What is Dental Bonding?


Dental Bonding

If you care about the appearance of your teeth, you're in good company. Unfortunately, despite wishing for a knock-'em-dead smile, not everyone is born with perfect dentition. To make matters worse, a lifetime of smoking or drinking coffee may have toned those once-pearly whites down to an unsightly tan.

At times like these, many people call for cosmetic assistance. Although some of these treatments come with a high price tag, there is one method that's within the means of nearly everyone. It's dental bonding, and it comes in two separate varieties. These include:

  • Direct composite dental bonding. In this process, the dentist will use a composite that's either white or tinted to match the patient's natural teeth to repair cracks and chips. This substance can also fill cavities, build up teeth that have worn at the edges or close unsightly gaps or spaces between them. Alternatively, the dentist can apply dental bonding material as direct-process veneers. This minimally invasive procedure entails placing the composite material directly on the teeth and sculpting it to improve their shape and general appearance.
  • Adhesive dental bonding. Whereas direct composite bonding has to do with applying the resin directly to the tooth, adhesive dental bonding uses the material as a glue to attach crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays or porcelain veneers. This more invasive procedure entails first roughening the tooth's surface with a gentle acid solution, then removing it and applying a bonding agent. After this, the dentist will place the composite resin material, sculpting it until he has achieved the desired configuration. He will then cure the material with ultraviolet light and give it a final polishing to bring the restored surface up to an attractive sheen.

The Finer Points of Dental Bonding

Many people appreciate the availability of dental bonding not only for the excellence of its results but also for its relatively low cost. Unless several teeth must undergo treatment, your dentist can complete the procedure in only one office visit with little or no damage to the underlying teeth, thereby positioning the procedure favorably when compared to the placement of crowns and veneers. Furthermore, unless the teeth are decayed and require fillings, there is rarely any need for anesthesia.

On the minus side, the composite resin material is not as strong as the enamel on your natural teeth. It will eventually require repair or even full replacement, and that is especially likely to happen all the sooner in people who have a habit of chewing on pencils, pens or fingernails. Furthermore, the bonding material is also more apt than porcelain crowns to acquire stains. For this reason, many dental professionals prefer to use dental bonding only for smaller cosmetic adjustments on front teeth that are naturally subject to less in the way of biting stress.

A proper candidate for dental bonding is one whose teeth are chipped or cracked, stained or discolored, shorter than they should be or suffering from decay. The procedure also works well for protecting any part of a root that sits out in the open thanks to the action of receding gums. If your teeth have suffered considerable damage, however, a more robust restoration will likely serve you better and provide you with a more favorable result.

Prolonging the Life of Dental Bonding Restorations

Although composite dental bonding is not as strong as your natural enamel and won't last as long as veneers, it should be good for at least 10 years if you treat it well. That means:

  • Brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
  • Never chewing on ice, hard candy or your fingernails.
  • Wearing a night guard if you grind your teeth while sleeping.
  • Seeing your dentist at least twice a year.
  • Never using your teeth to open packaged foods.

      You also need to remember that composite resin will stain more easily than will porcelain crowns or veneers, and this is most likely to happen within the first two to three days after you've had the treatment. Therefore, it's important to refrain from smoking and drinking coffee or tea for at least that long, and to brush as often as possible with a whitening toothpaste for the life of your restoration.

      The Cost of Dental Bonding

      As with anything else, the final cost of a dental bonding procedure will vary in accordance with the severity of the situation, the number of teeth involved and the dentist who does the work. Overall, though, dental bonding is one of the most commonly performed and least expensive methods of dental restoration available today. If you would like to determine whether your teeth would benefit from having this procedure, call Dr. James White today for a consultation. He will be glad to discuss dental bonding with you and evaluate your chances for achieving a successful outcome.


Teeth Bleaching FAQs


Teeth Whitening

Many people today yearn for the youthful look of whiter teeth. However, prior to undergoing the procedure, you are sure to have some questions. Here are some of the most common.

Does Teeth Bleaching Do Any Harm?

It's a natural question to ask. How could something that makes such a difference in your dental appearance not be in some way damaging? The truth is that the tooth bleaching process is surprisingly harmless. Professional products used for bleaching teeth in the dental office have received the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association. That should assure you of their safety.

Although they appear to exist on the surface, most of the stains that discolor your teeth reside in the dentin directly beneath. The whitening products reach them by traveling through tiny tubules in the tooth enamel. The process may leave the teeth in a sensitized state, but this does not mean that they have suffered harm. After a few weeks, the natural organic materials in your saliva will remineralize those tubules, and by this time, any sensitivity will have disappeared.

Who Is a Candidate for Professional Teeth Bleaching?

As with any other cosmetic treatment, some individuals will find themselves to be better suited to bleaching than others. The ideal candidate will have teeth that despite having yellowed are still in good condition. They will preferably contain no fillings or other restorations, and the gums that surround them will be pink and healthy.

In other words, the teeth whitening procedure is best suited for the patient who:

  • Is over 16 years of age.
  • Does not suffer from dental caries, exposed roots, tooth decay or periodontal disease.
  • Is not allergic to any teeth bleaching products.
  • Has a mouthful of natural, non-sensitive teeth.
  • Is neither pregnant nor nursing.

The patient whose mouth contains implants, bridges, crowns or fillings cannot benefit from teeth bleaching. The same is true of anyone who is hoping for an unrealistic, snow-white result.

Obviously, not everyone is going to meet these standards. If you do, however, you might think of the teeth bleaching process as something akin to an instant face lift. That's because the lighter the teeth, the younger the look.

Does Teeth Whitening Work?

As you may have surmised from the answer to the previous questions, it is not possible to whiten crowns or veneers. Any treatment that lightens natural teeth while leaving restorations in their original state will lead to a peculiar and likely unwanted result. Bleaching does work on natural teeth, but the extent to which it does this will vary from one person to another.

Keep in mind that while whitening products such as those sold over the counter will remove stains on the outer enamel, they do nothing for the peskier stains that show through from their home in the underlying dentin. Only the bleaching process will accomplish this. Depending on your suitability for the procedure, you can expect to emerge from the process with your teeth between three and eight shades lighter than before.

Will All Teeth Bleach to the Same Degree?

The extent to which any one tooth will whiten depends on the thickness of its enamel. The heftier it is, the better the result. Furthermore, teeth that have suffered a deeper discoloration will lighten to a lesser extent, while those that already enjoy a high degree of whiteness may not have much further to go.

Another problem will arise in cases where the gumline has receded, exposing the darker surface of the root. There are also certain types of discoloration that respond to teeth bleaching less readily, and these will require specialized treatment.

What Will Be the Long-Term Result?

Nothing lasts forever, and the same can be said of teeth bleaching. In most cases, you can expect that professionally bleached teeth will stay that way for the next two or three years. After that, they are likely to darken gradually back toward their original color. Much depends on your diet and whether you are a smoker. Eventually, however, you may reach the point of needing another bleaching treatment.

What Is the Bottom Line on Teeth Bleaching?

When it comes to whitening your teeth, bleaching is always the preferred method. There are other ways to arrive at the same result, but these will involve the use of bonding materials and cause damage to healthy tooth enamel while bleaching procedures leave it intact.

Dr. James White believes in providing patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their dental treatment. If you have any questions about the teeth bleaching process, please contact our offices today.




What Is Root Canal?


Teeth are not supposed to hurt. When they do, the type of pain you experience will often point right to the specific problem. This is particularly true of teeth in need of root canal treatment for which an infection or inflammation in the pulp is always the underlying cause. 

Numerous things can cause the trouble. Teeth that have undergone numerous dental procedures are frequently at risk, as are those that are chipped, cracked, or deeply decayed. An injury can damage the pulp as well, and this can be the case even in teeth for which no obvious cracks or chips exist to tell the tale. 

A tooth in need of root canal will usually present the sufferer with at least one of the following symptoms: 

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold substances.
  • Tenderness
  • Discomfort when chewing.
  • Swelling of the jaw and possibly the lymph nodes.
  • A discharge of pus into the mouth.
  • Pain that is often severe.

In rare cases, a tooth in need of root canal treatment will exhibit no symptoms whatsoever. Nevertheless, the lack of discomfort does not mean that the trouble will resolve itself or that it is something that you can safely ignore. If left untreated, abscessed teeth can be dangerous. In fact, as recently as two centuries ago, they ranked fifth among the commonest causes of death. Needless to say, extractions were also prevalent during that time. Thanks to modern endodontic treatment, today's sufferers can expect a far rosier outcome.  

How Root Canal Treatment Can Save a Tooth

Somewhat more complicated than getting a dental filling, root canal treatment consists of several steps. The dentist will begin by carefully examining the tooth, probably consulting an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. If the trouble is truly on the inside, he will administer a local or general an anesthetic before performing the following steps.

1. To start, your dentist will isolate the tooth by placing a protective rubber sheet around it. This will ensure that the area remains dry and free of further contamination.

2. He will then open the crown of the tooth to access the pulp, placing the entry point on the biting surface if the tooth is a molar or on the back for a canine or incisor. If he encounters any existing decay, he'll remove it at this point. 

3. Once he has accessed the affected tooth's interior, the dentist must determine how many canals it truly contains. The count may vary from one person to another. Incisors and canines will usually contain only one canal, but premolars sometimes have two and molars could incorporate three, four or even more. A surgical microscope may assist in examining the floor of the pulp chamber to discover any smaller canals that might otherwise remain unseen. 

4. It will now be time to clean and flush the pulp chamber. This involves removing both live and dead nerve tissue, bacteria, debris and toxins as well as the pulp itself. At this time, the dentist will also reshape the canals, enlarging and flaring them in preparation for receipt of the filling material. 

5. Once he has cleaned and properly shaped the interior spaces of the tooth, your dentist may choose to insert medication to assist in killing any remaining bacteria. He will either leave the tooth open to drain or place a temporary filling, and if the infection has spread into the bone or surrounding tissue, he may prescribe a course of antibiotics. 

6. At the next appointment, he will fill the tooth's interior with a rubber-like biomedical material known as gutta percha along with an adhesive cement to hold it all in place. Since the tooth no longer contains a nerve, this step should cause no discomfort.

Restoring the Tooth After Root Canal

Teeth that have undergone root canal treatment have not usually been in the best of shape to begin with. They may already contain large fillings or suffer from general weakness due to extensive decay. Overall, most will require some sort of restoration following the procedure, and this will consist of the placement of an attractive gold or porcelain crown. Sometimes a post will be inserted first for support if the underlying structure should require it.

Following the root canal treatment and restoration, your newly crowned tooth should not only present an attractive cosmetic appearance but also work just like a natural tooth. You may experience some sensitivity for a few days after the procedure, but discomfort will rarely continue beyond that length of time.

While most teeth respond well to root canal treatment, some few will not. This can be the case if the tooth's root has suffered a fracture, its canals are inaccessible or the surrounding bone has receded to the point at which it can no longer offer sufficient support. If the problem is caught in time, however, nearly every tooth can enjoy a new lease on life.

If you are experiencing dental pain, don't sit and hope that the problem will resolve itself. If it's dental in nature, the odds are overwhelming that it won't. Luckily, root canal treatment could save that troublesome tooth, so call Dr. White today for an evaluation.