Dental implants have quickly become the restoration of choice for two basic reasons: they effectively restore the lost function of missing teeth and simultaneously rejuvenate the smile with their life-like appearance.
Achieving a life-like appearance, however, isn’t always a simple matter. A restoration in what we dentists call the “Smile Zone” (the upper front area that displays both teeth and the gum line when you smile) requires careful planning and technique to ensure they appear as life-like as possible.
Our first concern is whether there’s enough bone to fully anchor an implant. Bone is a living, dynamic tissue that goes through cycles of dissolving (resorption) and growth. The normal forces of biting and chewing transmit through healthy teeth and stimulate growth in the bone. When the teeth are missing and no longer transmit this pressure, the bone will eventually resorb only and not grow.
Adjacent teeth could also be affected with bone loss if the extraction was difficult and a bone graft was not placed into the extraction socket to preserve bone. This not only puts adjacent teeth at risk of gum and bone loss but can also have implications for the final smile appearance. This bone also supports the triangular tissue between teeth known as papillae which give teeth their arched appearance. If the bone isn’t adequate, there’s less hope that the papillae will regenerate.
With these concerns it’s very important to consider how the implant and crown emerges from the gums in the Smile Zone. Recent developments in implant design are helping in this regard. The design change of the top of the implant re-orients the gum tissues in relation to the implant from vertical to horizontal, which dentists call “platform switching.” This provides greater stabilization where bone mass is limited, and helps create a more aesthetically pleasing result. There are also other techniques, such as surgical tissue grafting of the papillae that can further enhance the final appearance.
Although creating a natural, life-like appearance in the Smile Zone is difficult, it’s not impossible. It’s important first to undergo a complete dental examination and profile, where we can advise you on your best options to achieve a beautiful smile.
If you would like more information on the relation of implants to the aesthetics of your smile, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implant Aesthetics.”
On his way to the top of the urban contemporary charts, the musician, actor and entrepreneur known as 50 Cent (born Curtis James Jackson III) earned his street credibility the hard way; his rise from youthful poverty to present-day stardom is chronicled in many of his rhymes. So when it came time for the rapper to have cosmetic work performed on his teeth, he insisted on doing it in his own way.
“I told [the dentist] to leave [my front teeth] a little bigger than the other ones, because I need to still see me when I look in the mirror,” he told his co-host on the New York radio station Power 105.1. “Don't give me no whole ’noter guy — I like me!”
We understand how 50 Cent feels — in fact, we think it's a perfectly reasonable request.
Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in recent years, as we strive to meet the increasing expectations of our patients. We realize that different people have different perceptions of what makes a smile attractive — and that in dental aesthetics, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. That's why, before we begin cosmetic work, we want to hear what you like and don't like about your smile as it is now. In addition, we can also perform what is called a “smile analysis.”
This procedure doesn't cause any discomfort — but it's a crucial part of cosmetic enhancement. In doing the analysis, we look at the various parts of an individual's smile: the spacing, size and alignment of the teeth; the health and position of the gum line; the relationship of the upper and lower jaws; and the relative shape and size of the face. All of these features combine to make a person's smile unique. By looking at them closely, we can help determine the best way for you to improve your smile.
But how can you tell if the cosmetic changes you're contemplating will end up being just right for you? Fortunately, with today's technology, it's easier than ever. Computer imaging offers a chance to visualize the final outcome before we start working on your teeth; it's even possible to offer previews of different treatment options. If you want to go a bit further, we may be able to show you a full-scale model of your new smile.
In some situations, we can even perform a provisional restoration — that is, a trial version of the new smile, made with less permanent materials. If the “temporary” smile looks, feels, and functions just right, then the permanent one will too. If not, it's still possible to make changes that will make it work even better.
Whether you're thinking about having teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding, porcelain veneers, or dental implants to improve your smile, you probably have a picture in your mind of how the end result should look. Will your teeth be perfectly even and “Hollywood white” — or more “natural,” with slight variations in size, spacing and color allowed? Either way, we can help you get the smile you've always wanted.
If you would like more information about smile makeovers and options in cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry.”