Category Archives: Cosmetic Dentistry

A Smile Makeover Depends on Balancing Technique with Beauty

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“Redesigning” a smile is a lot like remodeling a house: the technicalities of construction must blend seamlessly with what is perceived as elegant and beautiful. The first aspect — the proper materials and techniques to achieve a sound restoration — is absolutely crucial. But the aesthetic is just as important for assuring the final restoration evokes beauty and style.

Balancing these two aspects of a smile makeover requires thoughtful intent and planning. What may be pleasing aesthetically may not be technically feasible; but what may be technically sound may not have that sought-after “curb appeal.”

You and your dentist must work together to achieve the successful blending of these two aspects. That’s why it’s important for you to have full confidence in your dentist: that he or she is both technically skilled and experienced in cosmetic procedures and artistically aware of what will look best aesthetically.

The first step in your makeover is a thorough dental examination to determine the overall state of your oral health. With this “bigger picture,” your dentist will have a better understanding of what’s possible and practical for you and your situation. The exam may also reveal problems that should be treated first before any cosmetic work.

From there, you must communicate clearly to your dentist what you perceive as wrong with your smile and what you would like to have changed. While there are general principles of beauty best followed, your dental work could hypothetically take different paths depending on your desires and expectations. You might prefer a more “sexy” look or one that’s “sophisticated.” Or perhaps you only want subtle changes that still retain features expressing your individuality.

Ultimately, though, your expectations must line up with reality. Much like your house contractor, your dentist will advise you on what’s both practical and possible. And with their experience in smile enhancement, they can also help you determine what will look most attractive given your facial structure and features.

With this preliminary planning, you can be confident as the work proceeds that the end of the project will be both exciting and satisfying. And just as with your newly renovated home, you’ll be more than happy to share your smile with others.

If you would like more information on enhancing your smile through cosmetic dentistry, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry.”

Benefits of Seeing a Prosthodontist

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What do architects and prosthodontists have in common? An architect designs buildings with both function and aesthetics in mind; a prosthodontist designs tooth restorations for optimal function and aesthetic appeal. In fact, prosthodontists are sometimes called “smile architects,” and are able to restore damaged or missing tooth and jaw structures with dentures, crowns, bridges, veneers, and other techniques.

Prosthodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.  This specialty focuses on using oral prosthetics (artificial teeth, for example) to restore your smile in the most aesthetically pleasing way. The benefits of seeing a prosthodontist include:

Extensive training
After graduating from dental school, prosthodontists complete an additional 3-year program that provides in-depth training and clinical practice. Their training includes cosmetic dental procedures; diagnosis and treatment of TMJ/TMD (jaw-joint disorders) and sleep disorders; and facial reconstruction due to oral cancer, an accident or a deformity from birth.

Large-scale experience
Prosthodontists limit their practice to the restoration of teeth, gums and associated oral structures, and have extensive clinical experience in this area. Like other specialists, a prosthodontist is more likely to be familiar with state-of-the-art techniques and technology in this rapidly advancing field. Further, prosthodontists are in close communication with dental laboratory technicians to coordinate the best custom restoration for each patient.

Team leadership
Some oral health problems require multi-step procedures carried out by a team of dental professionals, including oral surgeons, periodontists, general dentists, laboratory technicians and dental hygienists. A prosthodontist is often the point person who devises an overall treatment plan and coordinates the sequence of procedures with the various health professionals.

Attention to aesthetics
In prosthodontics, oral function and cosmetic dentistry go hand in hand. Prosthodontists have a deep understanding of what goes into a beautiful, functional smile—and their clinical training and experience can help you get the best results from dental treatment.

Prosthodontists have special expertise in the treatment of missing or damaged teeth, complex problems that require full-mouth reconstruction, and many other restorative dental procedures. If you have any questions about the specialty, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation.

Transform Your Smile with Porcelain Veneers

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You have a problem with your teeth. Functionally, there’s nothing wrong with them — but it’s another story when you look in the mirror: discoloration, wearing or maybe a slight gap between them.

Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for a smile you’re not happy with. Less costly than crowns or bridgework, porcelain veneers can nonetheless correct many mild to moderate cosmetic problems with teeth and transform them into an attractive smile.

Like the name implies, a veneer is made of thin layers of dental material custom-designed and bonded to the outside of a tooth. Veneers can correct problems with color, tooth shape and size, and mild misalignments or spacing. It’s akin to installing new siding on a house.

To begin your journey with veneers, we must first examine your teeth to fully assess your dental needs and ensure you have no issues that could prevent applying them. Then, we prepare your teeth: although not to the extent as for a crown or bridge, we must remove a small amount of tooth material so the veneer will appear natural and not bulky.

We then make an impression mold of your prepared teeth that a dental technician will use to create your veneers. During this process they build up layer after layer of liquid porcelain until they achieve the right thickness, shape and color to match your teeth.

In the meantime, we can fit you with a temporary set of veneers made of acrylic plastic so you can chew, speak and smile normally. These provisional veneers also give you and your friends and family a chance to see what your new smile will look like.

When your veneers are ready, we’ll create micro-etches in your teeth that will help keep the veneer secure after we’ve bonded them. Once bonded, the veneer will feel like an inseparable part of the tooth and look it too. No one except you and us need know you’re wearing veneers.

If you take care of them — keeping up daily hygiene habits, not biting into hard surfaces, and visiting us regularly for checkups — your veneers can last for many years. And so will that beautiful, new smile.

If you would like more information on porcelain veneers, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers.”

Dental Porcelain is a Great Option for Creating a Natural Appearance

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The mark of a great dental restoration is that you can’t see it. It’s there in plain sight, but others observing your new and improved smile can’t tell the difference between the restoration and your natural teeth. Everything looks, well, natural.

That’s the great advantage of dental porcelain. A dental technician with technical skill and artistic flair can form this inorganic, ceramic material into a life-like replica of your tooth, with a shape and color that blends in with the rest of your teeth. And because of its strength properties, porcelain restorations can hold up to the normal chewing and biting forces in your mouth, as long as you use prudence when biting down on hard substances.

Porcelain is also highly adaptable to different kinds of restorations. For natural teeth still viable but no longer attractive, porcelain can be the main ingredient in two very popular and effective restorations, the veneer and the crown. Although the porcelain material is the same for both, their construction and application are quite different.

Veneers are very thin laminated layers of dental porcelain custom-colored and shaped for bonding to the outer visible portion of a tooth. They’re a great solution for relatively decay-free teeth that have minor to moderate defects like chipping, slight misalignment or heavy staining. They often require some permanent removal of tooth enamel to ensure their appearance isn’t too bulky, but causes minimal impact to the tooth.

Crowns, on the other hand, are complete tooth replicas that are bonded in place over an existing tooth like a cap. They’re a good choice for teeth in which the root and inner layers are still viable, but the tooth has been significantly damaged by decay or trauma. They’re also useful as a protective cover for teeth that have undergone root canal treatment. But unlike the minimal impact of veneers, crowns require significant tooth alterations to accommodate them.

In either case, though, the end result is much the same: both crowns and veneers can be fashioned to precisely mimic the shape, color and texture of natural teeth. In skillful hands, these porcelain restorations can transform your smile for the better
and no one but you and your dentist will ever need to know.

If you would like more information on porcelain restorations, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”

David Copperfield on the Magic of Cosmetic Dentistry

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If you could seem to levitate, walk through walls, or make the Statue of Liberty disappear… would it really matter whether or not you had a bright, shiny smile? According to David Copperfield, who has performed all of these illusions (and many more), the answer is: Yes, absolutely! In a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the renowned magician talked about how a smile affects the way you’re seen by others — and the way you see yourself.

“Whether you’re in a job interview, or on stage, or just walking down the street, it can influence how people react to you, when they see you‘re happy,” he said. “And a smile is a beacon of that.”

As a veteran performer with a decades-long career, Copperfield understands the importance of a great-looking smile — not only to those who see you, but to your own self-esteem. “It’s not just appearance, it’s how you feel about yourself,” he noted.

Although he makes it look easy, Copperfield explained that it takes plenty of work behind the scenes to make the illusions appear natural. And at various times, when his dazzling smile has needed some touching up, the masterful magician hasn’t hesitated to take advantage of a different kind of magic: the kind offered by cosmetic dentistry.

What kinds of “magic tricks” can dentists do? Cosmetic procedures range from easy and effective teeth whitening to cosmetic bonding, which can repair small chips or cracks with tooth-colored resin. A smile that is crooked can be straightened with traditional or colorless braces, or by using clear plastic aligners that fit right over the teeth and are nearly invisible. Teeth that are more seriously stained or damaged can be restored with crowns or veneers. And teeth that have “disappeared” can be replaced with modern dental implants or traditional bridgework.

But the best thing about these “tricks” is that they aren’t illusions: Dentists work hard to preserve and restore your natural teeth whenever it is possible, and offer natural looking, long lasting replacements when it isn’t. That means, with proper oral hygiene care and routine office visits, a great-looking smile can be yours for life. And that’s not “magic”… it’s reality!

If you have questions about cosmetic dentistry, or would like to talk about having a “smile makeover,” contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Cosmetic Dentistry” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”

New Year, New Smile

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In the winter months, when the daylight hours grow few, we celebrate the season with holiday lights and good cheer. This season of hope and renewal also gives us a chance to think about the future — to take stock of where we’ve been, and even plan for some changes in the new year.

Deciding to improve your overall health is one great way to start off the year. Of course, we know many resolutions that begin with crash diets and extreme fitness programs won’t be kept up for very long. But if there were one permanent change you could make, which would both enhance your appearance and improve your health… would you do it? If you are missing teeth — or if you’re wearing dentures that aren’t working the way you’d like — then perhaps we can offer a suggestion: Consider dental implants.

Besides being an obvious blemish on your appearance, missing teeth also create problems you can’t see. For one, it’s harder to eat a proper, balanced diet if you have trouble chewing certain foods, potentially leading to serious nutritional problems. For another, when teeth are lost, the bone in your jaw that used to surround them begins to deteriorate. This can cause you to have a prematurely aged look, and make you appear unhappy even when you’re not.

Unfortunately, dentures don’t solve these problems — in fact, they tend to compound them. Many denture wearers report they have problems eating; some even say they eat better without dentures. And dentures don’t stop bone loss; in many cases, especially when they don’t fit correctly, they actually accelerate it.

But there’s really no reason you have to get by with missing teeth. Since they were introduced some three decades ago, dental implants have offered people a better way to replace lost teeth. With implants, you can eat your favorite foods again, smile with complete assurance, and stop worrying about dentures that may fit poorly or slip out at the wrong times.

Fixed solidly in your jaw in a minor surgical procedure, dental implants function just like your natural teeth. Their natural look and “feel” makes it easy to forget they aren’t the teeth you were born with. Best of all, they can last the rest of your life… unlike bridges or dentures. Because they offer a permanent solution, implants can be quite cost-effective in the long run. But the way they can restore your confidence and make you feel good about yourself isn’t something you can put a price on.

So if you have ever thought about making a New Year’s resolution that will really improve your health and well-being — consider dental implants. Just contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can learn more in Dear Doctor magazine’s in-depth guide, “Dental Implants.”

Porcelain Veneers Could Change Your Appearance for the Better

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We now have an amazing repertoire in dentistry to restore the look and function of damaged or missing teeth. From tooth-colored crowns to life-like dental implants, we can turn an embarrassing smile into one you’re confident to show the world.

But what if your teeth are visually unappealing but structurally sound? Perhaps they’re slightly irregular or discolored — do you still need the “heavy artillery” in our arsenal of restoration options?

Not at all — dental veneers that provide amazing aesthetic results with minimal tooth preparation may be an appropriate restoration choice for you. As the name implies, veneers are a thin layer of dental material (usually porcelain) that’s permanently bonded to the outside of a tooth. Veneers can be shaped to resemble natural teeth — especially effective for changing the appearance of small or slightly misshapen teeth — and can be customized to match an individual patient’s tooth color.

Veneered teeth require very little preparation compared to other restorations; still, most veneer applications do require some permanent enamel removal so that the applied veneers appear natural. In recent years, however, changes in veneer design and materials have made it possible for some patients to receive veneers without some tooth prep.

If taken care of properly, veneers can last anywhere from seven to twenty years (in some cases, more). While their material composition and the bonding process can withstand normal biting forces, wearers need to keep in mind porcelain is a form of glass — excessive twisting or pressures from excessive grinding habits could cause them to shatter.

And because veneers are made of an inert, non-living material, they can’t adapt to any changes that may occur biologically to your teeth and gums and may need to be updated at some point in the future. The good news is that a loosened veneer can often be repaired.

If you’d like to know if you’re a good candidate for this cost-effective, minimally invasive option, visit us for an examination. Balancing all the factors, porcelain veneers just may be your answer to achieving a better smile.

If you would like more information on porcelain veneers, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers.”

For Michael Buble, the Show Must Go On… Even Without the Tooth

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What happens if you’re right in the middle of a song, in front of an arena full of fans… and you knock out a tooth with your microphone? If you’re Michael Buble, you don’t stop the show — you just keep right on singing.

The Canadian song stylist was recently performing at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia, when an ill-timed encounter with the mike resulted in the loss of one of his teeth. But he didn’t let on to his dental dilemma, and finished the concert without a pause. The next day, Buble revealed the injury to his fans on his Instagram page, with a picture of himself in the dentist’s chair, and a note: “Don’t worry, I’m at the dentist getting fixed up for my final show tonight.”

Buble’s not the only singer who has had a close encounter with a mike: Country chanteuse Taylor Swift and pop star Demi Lovato, among others, have injured their teeth on stage. Fortunately, contemporary dentistry can take care of problems like this quickly and painlessly. So when you’ve got to get back before the public eye, what’s the best (and speediest) way to fix a chipped or broken tooth?

It depends on exactly what’s wrong. If it’s a small chip, cosmetic bonding might be the answer. Bonding uses special tooth-colored resins that mimic the natural shade and luster of your teeth. The whole procedure is done right here in the dental office, usually in just one visit. However, bonding isn’t as long-lasting as some other tooth-restoration methods, and it can’t fix large chips or breaks.

If a tooth’s roots are intact, a crown (or cap) can be used to replace the entire visible part. The damaged tooth is fitted for a custom-fabricated replacement, which is usually made in a dental laboratory and then attached at a subsequent visit (though it can sometimes be fabricated with high-tech machinery right in the office).

If the roots aren’t viable, you may have the option of a bridge or a dental implant. With a fixed bridge, the prosthetic tooth is supported by crowns that are placed on healthy teeth on either side of the gap. The bridge itself is a one-piece unit consisting of the replacement tooth plus the adjacent crowns.

In contrast, a high-tech dental implant is a replacement tooth that’s supported not by your other teeth, but by a screw-like post of titanium metal, which is inserted into the jaw in a minor surgical procedure. Dental implants have the highest success rate of any tooth-replacement method (over 95 percent); they help preserve the quality of bone on the jaw; and they don’t result in weakening the adjacent, healthy teeth — which makes implants the treatment of choice for many people.

So whether you’re crooning for ten thousand adoring fans or just singing in the shower, there’s no reason to let a broken tooth stop the show: Talk to us about your tooth-restoration options! If you would like additional information, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Repairing Chipped Teeth” and “Dental Implants vs. Bridgework.”

Veneers are a Versatile Means to Achieving a Confident Smile

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Nothing says confidence like a bright, beautiful smile. But problems with your teeth’s appearance — discoloration, abnormal shapes, or gaps — may be giving you reasons not to smile. If so, you may be a candidate for porcelain veneers.

A veneer is a thin covering of porcelain or other dental material permanently attached to the face of a tooth to improve its appearance. Veneers help resolve a variety of aesthetic issues: their life-like color can brighten dull, stained teeth; they can “lengthen” shortened teeth caused by wear or normalize congenitally misshapen teeth; they’re also helpful in reducing small gaps or used in conjunction with orthodontics for more serious misalignments.

The first step to a better smile with veneers is to assess your teeth’s current condition and develop a treatment plan. Your input is extremely important at this stage — what changes you believe would improve your smile. We would also offer valuable insight, based on our knowledge and experience, into what is realistically possible and aesthetically appealing regarding porcelain veneers.

Once you have decided to go forward, the next step is to prepare the teeth for attaching the veneers. Depending on their size and location, this preparation can range from no tooth structure removal to a relatively small amount of structure. If the latter is needed, we remove only what’s necessary to achieve the aesthetic result since structural reduction isn’t reversible.

After preparing an impression of your teeth, we would send it and other instructions to a dental technician to create the permanent veneers. In the meantime, we’ll install a temporary set for you to wear while the permanent set is under construction.

Once we attach the permanent veneers, they will adhere so securely a drill or laser would be needed to remove them. We achieve this attachment by creating microscopic pores on the face of the teeth and the inside of the veneer with a mild acid solution. The bonding cement seeps into these pores and creates a strong bond that virtually unites the tooth and veneer into one.

Although your new veneers are made to last, you’ll need to maintain them like your other teeth, with a little added caution when biting and chewing. All in all, though, you’ll be able to smile again with confidence — for many years to come.

If you would like more information on porcelain veneers, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Award-Winning Smile

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She received an academy award for best supporting actress in Chicago (2002); she regularly stars in big Hollywood films like Oceans Twelve and Side Effects. And she’s been named one of People magazine’s “most beautiful people” of the year… a total of five times so far. According to big-screen heartthrob Antonio Banderas, “She has one of the most beautiful close-ups in cinematography today.”

So would it surprise you to learn that Catherine Zeta-Jones had a little help from cosmetic dentistry along the way? In her childhood, the actress said, “I was teased because I had a really flat-looking nose, and before I got braces, my teeth used to stick out a bit.” According to press reports, she has also had various dental treatments to make her teeth look whiter and more even.

Because she’s been in the spotlight since a young age, Zeta-Jones had her cosmetic dental treatments performed over a number of years. But if you’re unhappy with your smile right now, there’s no need to wait: Getting a complete “smile makeover” starts with a consultation at our office. How does it work?

We begin with a thorough dental exam to check for any underlying issues, and some basic questions, including: What do you (and don’t you) like about your smile? Are your teeth as even and as white as you’d like them to be? Is your smile too “gummy”, or do the teeth seem too large or small in proportion to your facial features? Do gaps, chips or cracked teeth detract from your appearance?

Next, working together with you, we can develop a plan to correct any perceived problems in your smile. We’ve already mentioned two of the most common ways to enhance a smile that’s less than perfect: orthodontics for straightening crooked teeth, and whitening treatments for a more brilliant smile. If your teeth are otherwise healthy, both treatments can be performed at any time — in fact, more and more of today’s orthodontic patients are adults.

Other treatments that are often used include cosmetic bonding to repair small to moderate chips or cracks in teeth; crowns (caps) to restore teeth with more extensive structural damage; and veneers to remedy a number of defects — including discoloration, small irregularities in tooth spacing, and even teeth that appear too long or too short. Plus, we have even more procedures designed to remedy specific dental issues.

Will having a better smile get you on the “most beautiful people” list? We can’t say for sure. But we think you’ll feel better about yourself… and people will notice.

If you would like more information on smile makeovers, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor articles “The Impact of a Smile Makeover” and “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”