What The Heck Are Crowns, Veneers and Implants Anyway?
Dentistry has become a hot topic, as writers across the media spectrum are reaching into our mouths for story ideas. Apparently, the making of a beautiful smile makes good copy.
"And don't we all identify in some way with those people making big changes-on shows like "The Swan" and "Extreme Makeover"-even those getting new smiles?" says Dr. Bernard Lynch, at the Washington Center for Dentistry, in Washington, DC.
No wonder we need to boost our dental vocabulary, especially if we're thinking about delving into some smile improvement ourselves. So, here's a quick review:
"The Crown." Sometimes a front tooth is out of line, too short, too wide, too narrow or hopelessly too gray, too yellow or too brown.
"One solution is to pare down the unfavorable tooth and then cover it with a crown or cap," says Dr. Marc Doctors, also of the Washington Center for Dentistry. The new porcelain tooth fits perfectly over the minimized tooth, providing a sparkling, whiter, straighter version of its former self.
"The Veneer." Sometimes a tooth has fewer objectionable features, and the alignment, color and shape can be improved with a more delicate replacement option. Consider the veneer: a thin, fingernail-size shell of glistening porcelain that fits over the existing tooth that has been slightly re-contoured.
Veneers and crowns made with new, advanced, porcelain materials provide the opalescence, brightness and natural shape that improve a smile-naturally-while lasting for many, many years.
"This option provides a wonderful way to revitalize a smile and get an image that looks younger, healthier," says Dr. Daniel Deutsch, of the Washington Center for Dentistry.
"The Implant." No longer are patients denied a beautiful, natural smile because of missing teeth. Once fated to have removable appliances-or even dentures-these patients now have a happier alternative. Synthetic roots of new "teeth" literally are "implanted" into the gum and bone.
The new implanted root is made of metal, and in time, the gum and bone grow around it. And the portion of the implant that protrudes above the gum line gets a crown that looks just like a natural tooth. It's a miracle to those getting a second chance at teeth that feel-and look-like normal teeth.
"Patients need to know that their teeth can stay young for life," says Dr. Lynch. "Nowadays, dentistry really does have all the answers."