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Improving That Smile

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“Many adults are worried about how their teeth and smile might affect their chances for employment or progression in this very competitive job market.”

“So does having straight white teeth guarantees you to be successful? Of course not, but it sure gives you an unfair advantage.”  [Previous Article – Behind Every Smile]

 

New technologies in dentistry have tremendously enhanced patient comfort and the predictability of treatments to improve your smile. The teeth form just one part of the equation; there are many supporting structures for example lips, muscle and bone that are involved.

I always believe in holistic dentistry. My philosophy is that the most important aspect is never about the procedure, the focus should be the patient.

 

The treatments commonly available to enhance the smile are:

  1. Whitening of teeth
  2. Dental Implants
  3. Ceramic Veneers and Crowns
  4. Aesthetic Braces and Invisalign
  5. Laser Gum Recontouring

 

1. Whitening of teeth has never been easier and safer. In-office or home whitening systems are continuously improving for comfort and efficiency.

Unfortunately some inadequately trained beauticians are performing this procedure without realising that whitening should only be done after a detailed check-up to make sure there are no active dental problems present like infection or decay, which will cause unnecessary pain and distress. The failure to mention that existing fillings cannot be whitened also leave many disappointed with the results at the beauty salons.

And since reputable whitening systems can only be officially sold to a dentist by law, we have to really ask ourselves what exactly are the beauticians using then? Should we be worried? Absolutely!

 

2. Titanium dental implants have been around for longer than most would imagine. The first one was placed in 1965, and technology has improved leaps and bounds over the years. Today, dental implants are the number one choice to replace missing teeth. Old school dentures have taken up a supporting role instead of a definitive solution.  With better reliability, techniques and aesthetics, we have successfully replaced teeth in areas that were previously deemed impossible. But like everything in life there are still situations where dental Implants are not appropriate. In Singapore, dental implants are gaining popularity partially due to the fact that some of the cost can be recovered under the Central Provident Fund’s Medisave scheme.

The dental Implant replaces a natural tooth using the original jaw bone for support. Currently titanium is deemed the ideal and safest material available due to the proven ability to integrate with bone and its long track record.

Many years of research and development is required to make an implant that will work in the harsh environment of the oral cavity. There are many extreme factors in play here, the Implant has to withstand every single type of diet from acidic, hard, sharp, sticky, cold and hot coupled with the fact that it is always bathed in saliva and millions of bacteria, plus having to cope with the constant repeating 90kg bite force round the clock. Sounds like every engineer’s nightmare to create something that will work consistently in this unforgiving setting.

I constantly offer my patients the choice of different Implants and most updated information; to me education is the key to making an informed decision.

I foresee in the next 20 years we can probably commercially grow new natural teeth in a lab and transfer it to the mouth. With the rapid advancements in genetic engineering the possibilities are endless.

 

3. The world was officially introduced to veneers when the TV show Extreme Makeover was aired in 2002. Dentists have been using ceramic crowns and veneers to correct and repair gaps, teeth discolouration, and broken teeth for many years. The introduction of new materials and techniques have been able to bring aesthetics to a level where is it challenging to differentiate between a crown and natural tooth.

Mild alignment problems are best treated with braces but due to the time requirement some patients are searching for quick fixes. Minor misalignment of the teeth can be treated with ceramic veneers and crowns, the results are dazzling and instantaneous but one must always be reminded of wear and tear issues.

I must emphasize that prudent planning is crucial to prevent irreversible teeth damage and avoidable pain.

 

4. For adults, aesthetic braces are the best way to upgrade your smile and conceal the process at the same time. There are numerous types of aesthetic braces with various elements: non-metallic braces, lingual braces (braces at the back of the teeth) and clear aligners.

Non-metallic Braces are made from either ceramic or crystal. Paired with white coated metal wires, it is mostly unnoticed unless you are up close and personal. Who wore it? – Tom Cruise

The Lingual braces system that we use is made from gold. It is one of the most advanced and comfortable systems by 3M due to the use of computerised planning and customisation of the braces. It is completely invisible unless you open your mouth really wide. Who wore it? – Prince William

Thanks to zealous marketing campaigns, Invisalign has become a household name for clear aligners. There are made of specialised plastic material and they are removable. Many patients are attracted to clear aligners as they are able to take them off for events and occasions. It is mostly inconspicuous to the general public. Who wore it? – Justin Bieber

 

5. Not everyone is born with perfectly even gums. Majority of us can pick up symmetry easily, which makes anyirregular gum line in the front teeth very obvious. With the development of laser in dentistry, we are able to recontour and level out the gums in a relatively simple procedure with minimal discomfort. It is definitely the easiest and fastest approach to improving your smile.

 

“A smile takes but a moment, but the memory of it lasts forever”  

So be sure to put the best one forward.

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