Do you have a gap between your teeth? Some people, like celebrities David Letterman and Lara Stone, have chosen to keep the gaps between their teeth, but many would prefer their teeth to be evenly spaced and shaped. Here are three options the restorative and cosmetic dentists at New Hampshire Center for Comprehensive Dentistry use to close the gap and achieve a beautiful smile:
- Tooth Bonding
- Porcelain Veneers
- Invisalign Braces
Composite bonding offers a relatively easy method of closing small gaps between teeth. With bonding, a tooth-colored material called composite resin is bonded to the teeth to change their shape and color. How long the bonding lasts varies between patients, averaging three to seven years. Since the composite resin is micro-mechanically bonded to the tooth, it’s very secure. We can match a wide range of tooth colors and the end result blends in perfectly when the proper shade is selected.
Bonding is relatively easy to repair or replace when the resin becomes chipped or stained. Anesthetic may or may not be needed, and the whole procedure is done in one appointment. When compared to the other methods, bonding is probably the easiest and quickest option, but the material stains more easily and wears more quickly than porcelain or natural teeth.
Porcelain veneers can often be used to close wider gaps and they are especially useful when the spacing or shape of several front teeth is uneven. Veneers are fingernail-thin shells that are placed on the front surface of your teeth to improve their appearance.
There are several types of porcelain veneers, some as thin as a contact lens, that can transform your smile and cover stains, chips or misaligned teeth. Unlike crowns, veneers usually require less tooth preparation and removal of natural tooth structure.
Porcelain veneers last an average of four to twelve years, longer than composite resin. Although they are thin, they are quite strong and durable, and like bonding, are very secure. The custom-mixed color of porcelain is quite beautiful and matches the translucency of natural teeth very well.
Porcelain veneers can crack and chip, and while they’re not easy to repair, they can be replaced. It can take up to six veneers to create even spacing and proportional shapes on your most visible “smile” teeth, so veneers may have a higher cost than bonding. And if you choose porcelain veneers, you’ll probably benefit wearing a night guard, especially if you clench or grind your teeth, because porcelain is very hard and can cause wear against your natural teeth opposite the veneer.
Sometimes you’ll have better results with a full-coverage dental crown rather than bonding or veneers. Dental crowns cover your whole tooth and like veneers, last much longer than bonding. Crowns for your front “smile” teeth are precisely matched to enhance your face and other teeth so that your smile is naturally beautiful.
Dental crowns can be made of different materials, with the decision based on esthetics, function and longevity. Like veneers, you may have the best results by using crowns across all of your smile teeth, and usually all done at the same time. Using a night guard after cosmetic crown treatment will aid in protecting both the crowns and your natural teeth below the restorations.
You can also close the gap between your teeth by using braces to move your teeth into their correct position. Braces are an excellent choice when your teeth are healthy and attractively shaped, but widely spaced or crooked. Braces help your teeth come together properly by eliminating the gaps and correctly aligning the teeth. This way your teeth are in harmony with your smile.
Many people find that they are good candidates for the Invisalign® orthodontic system. Invisalign® “invisible” braces use a series of clear aligners that gradually move your teeth into proper position. Treatment can take anywhere from eight to eighteen months, and unlike metal braces, most people will not even know that you’re straightening your teeth. The clear aligners can also be removed for eating, brushing and flossing, which makes keeping your teeth clean easier and more convenient.
Although using braces to move your teeth takes time, it can also be the most beneficial. Straighter teeth are healthier teeth, with fewer areas between teeth that can trap food, spaces that are easier to floss, and generally lead to healthier gums. No tooth structure is lost, as in veneers. It’s a permanent solution, unlike bonding and veneers, which have to be repaired or replaced periodically. And although traditional braces don’t have the advantage of improving tooth color, the Invisalign® aligners can double as whitening trays, so people often combine orthodontics with teeth whitening.
If the gaps between your teeth are something you’d rather change, we’ll be happy to talk with you, evaluate your particular situation and help you choose the best treatment option for you. Contact one of our restorative and cosmetic dentists for your consultation today.