Do you struggle with bad teeth? Maybe they’re discolored, misshapen, or chipped, or maybe some of them are missing altogether. Whatever the situation, the important thing to understand is that you do have options. From porcelain veneers to bridges to dental implants, there’s a solution for every oral imperfection.
Possible solutions: Dental implants, implant-supported dentures, snap-in dentures
If you have a missing tooth, or if one or more of your natural teeth are too damaged to save, you may be an excellent candidate for dental implants. The implant procedure is generally completed over three appointments.
The first appointment is the post placement, where the implant post is drilled into the bone. It generally takes about 4 to 6 months for the post to fuse to the bone. Then the dentist completes the second phase of the procedure, the abutment placement. The abutment is connected to the post and responsible for holding the crown (the actual tooth) in place. Then, after another short healing process (as little as 2 weeks), the crown is placed. With proper care, dental implants should last a lifetime.
If you’re not a good candidate for implant dentistry, or if you have concerns about the cost or invasiveness of tooth replacement, other options are available for missing teeth as well. There are even state-of-the-art dentures that snap into the bone, providing the stability and natural appearance of implants but with less surgery required. Your dentist can help you to determine the best option for your needs.
Possible solutions: Bone graft, sinus lift, zygomatic implants
If your underlying bone has deteriorated to the point where it’s unable to support a dental implant, you may still be a candidate for implants. Bone loss can also contribute to problems like tooth misalignment, tooth crowding, and a general sunken appearance of the face.
Dentists and oral surgeons are now using an array of state-of-the-art treatments like bone grafts, sinus lifts, and zygomatic implants to provide support for patients who once had limited options.
With a bone graft, the surgeon combines the existing bone with bone matter from another part of the body, often the tibia, hip, or other parts of the jaw. All of the bone matter fuses together to provide strength and reinforcement to the jawbone. Some types of bone grafts are over 99% successful, so they’re often a preferred course of action for dental surgeons. A sinus lift is a type of bone graft that seeks to grow bone in the floor of the sinus (i.e. above the upper teeth).
Zygomatic implants are a relatively new solution. Like sinus lifts, they’re intended for the upper jaw. But rather than connecting to the jaw bone, zygomatic implants use extra-long posts that connect to the cheekbone for greater support. They have about a 96.7% success rate after 12 years, and they can completely eliminate the need for bone grafting.
Possible solutions: Porcelain veneers, Invisalign, braces
Crooked teeth can occur for numerous reasons: heredity, tooth crowding, physical trauma, or unhealthy chewing behaviors, just to name a few examples. But regardless of the cause, you may be able to correct or conceal the problem using porcelain veneers or Invisalign.
Invisalign may be your best corrective solution if you have a tooth gap or other common misalignment issue. Invisalign is a brand of custom-made, virtually invisible braces that are created based on computer-generated images of your teeth. Whereas traditional braces are fused to the teeth and can take 2 years or more to work properly, Invisalign treatments are comfortable, removable, and often capable of working in as little as 12 to 18 months—sometimes less, depending on the patient. Invisalign aligners consist of several molds that gradually reposition your teeth as needed, and the results are incredible.
If you’re seeking a more cosmetic solution to misaligned or crooked teeth, porcelain veneers may be the way to go. A porcelain veneer is a thin shell that’s cemented over the natural tooth, covering imperfections and leaving you with a bright, beautiful smile. I
n most cases, porcelain veneers can be placed in three appointments: first is the assessment and consultation, then the preparation appointment (where the dentist shaves a very thin layer of enamel from the tooth to make room for the veneer), and finally the placement of the veneer itself. The veneer is fused to the natural tooth under a special light using bonding cement. With proper care, a high-quality porcelain veneer can last 15 to 20 years.
Possible solutions: Root canal, fillings, porcelain crowns, inlays and onlays
Tooth decay isn’t just unsightly; it can contribute to much more serious oral health problems down the line. That’s why it’s so important to get it taken care of right away.
For moderate to severe gum disease involving inflammation or infection at the root of the tooth, a root canal may be warranted. During this type of procedure, an endodontist will carefully remove the pulp from inside the tooth, and then clean and disinfect the area before placing a filling in the vacant space.
In some cases, a dentist may recommend a porcelain inlay or onlay. This type of treatment restores a decaying tooth by filling the decayed area with a porcelain material that’s matched to the color of the tooth. As with a root canal, the dentist first needs to clean and restore the infected, decaying area of the tooth. Porcelain inlays and onlays offer the added benefit of a porcelain restoration that’s durable, stain-resistant, and capable of blending seamlessly with the rest of the tooth.
If the decay has weakened or withered much of the tooth, the dentist may instead recommend a porcelain crown to support the remaining tooth structure. A crown is similar to a veneer, but it fits over the entire tooth rather than just covering the front of it. It can provide structural support while also concealing any cosmetic imperfections. If crowns are required for multiple teeth in a row, the dentist may create a dental bridge, which consists of multiple connected crowns.
Possible solutions: Porcelain veneers, crowns and bridges, dental implants
Misshapen teeth may include malformed teeth, chipped teeth, or cracked teeth. While the causes can range from genetic disorders to physical trauma, the solutions are largely the same. If the issue is strictly cosmetic and the tooth is otherwise healthy, porcelain veneers are generally the way to go. If the issue is structural as well as cosmetic, your dentist may recommend a crown or bridge to treat the issue.
In especially severe cases, another course of action may be to extract the misshapen tooth and replace it with an implant. This may be recommended if the teeth are difficult to restore through conventional means (such as for severely conical teeth) or if the teeth are damaged or decayed to the point where they’ll ultimately require extraction anyway.
With the proper examinations, your dentist can determine which course of treatment would be the most effective, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing.
Possible solutions: Teeth whitening, porcelain veneers
In some cases, a professional teeth whitening solution may be sufficient to address tooth discoloration. For example, the Zoom! teeth whitening system has proven effective for treating significant discoloration even when over-the-counter solutions fail.
With the Zoom! system, a special whitening gel is applied to the teeth. The gel is then activated beneath the Zoom! lamp. When the treatment is over, you receive custom at-home trays and a whitening solution so that you can continue to achieve and maintain results on your own.
If teeth whitening is unsuccessful, or if the problem is limited to one or two specific teeth, the dentist may recommend porcelain veneers. Veneers are custom-designed to match the look and color of surrounding teeth, so they can provide a convenient cosmetic solution for tooth discoloration.
Overbite or Underbite
Possible solutions: Invisalign, jaw alignment surgery
In some cases, braces or Invisalign can treat an overbite or underbite by realigning the teeth, thus eliminating any unwanted protrusions. Because overbite and underbite are both types of malocclusion (tooth misalignment), this course of treatment can be highly effective for certain patients.
After the braces or Invisalign treatment has concluded, the dentist may recommend the use of a retainer to keep the teeth in alignment and help you to naturally adjust your bite. Over time, the proper alignment will feel natural and the retainer will no longer be required.
In other cases, a dentist might recommend jaw alignment surgery to correct the malocclusion and ensure that the upper and lower jaw align properly. Depending on the type and severity of the malocclusion, other less invasive solutions—like veneers—may be recommended.
Possible solutions: Gum contouring, therapeutic Botox, porcelain veneers
A gummy smile can have multiple causes. If the problem results from excess gum tissue, a dentist can use a laser scalpel and local anesthetic to reshape the gum and make it less prominent—a process known as gum contouring. It’s a simple outpatient procedure that can usually be completed in a single visit.
Dentists most commonly recommend therapeutic Botox for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome and bruxism (tooth grinding), but it can also help to reduce the appearance of a gummy smile. Because Botox relaxes the muscles around the mouth and lips, it may prevent the lip from rising too high above the gum line when you smile.
In some cases, the dentist may even be able to use porcelain veneers to make the teeth more prominent and the gum less prominent. Whereas Botox treatments are only good for about 4 to 6 months on average, porcelain veneers may last up to 20 years with proper care.
Dental Care Solutions Are Available for Bad Teeth
Whatever your cosmetic or dental health issue happens to be, solutions are available. Your dentist can examine your teeth and gums and help you to understand the options available for your situation. In some cases, you may benefit from multiple procedures (such as Invisalign followed by porcelain veneers). This is known as a smile makeover.
A new smile can work wonders for your confidence, and it can give you a new lease on life. So whether you’re struggling with crooked teeth, stained teeth, damaged teeth, or even missing teeth, now is the perfect time to get the beautiful smile you’ve been dreaming about.