It seems today that every dentist is a cosmetic dentist. This represents a fairly recent phenomenon. Since cosmetic dentistry is not a specialty recognized by the American Dental Association, how does one determine who's good, and who's not?
Below are four criteria that I would recommend using in your selection of a cosmetic dentist:
- EDUCATION: There are many continuing education courses offered in cosmetic dentistry, and most of them are quite good. A cosmetic dentist must be dedicated to expanding his learning and increasing his knowledge through regular participation in these courses. This is a critical component of a cosmetic dentist's development of his or her own philosophy and technical expertise.
- EXPERIENCE: While education is extremely important, it is of little relevance if not used in practice. The more cases a cosmetic dentist completes, the more capable that professional becomes in visualizing results, anticipating challenges, and knowing which techniques will produce the optimum result for the client. Cosmetic dentistry is extremely technical, and a clinician's skill set develops over time.
- LAB SUPPORT: Most cosmetic dental cases involve the fabrication of a porcelain crown and/ or veneer. These items are made in a dental laboratory by specially trained personnel. This dental laboratory technician, or ceramist, is responsible for translating the cosmetic dentist's specific information on your case into a well-crafted and natural-looking product. In this sense, the ceramist is a true artist. In order to achieve a high level of proficiency, this individual must have benefited from the experiences of completing many cases. Ideally, the cosmetic dentist should have the same highly skilled ceramist complete all of his or her cases. This scenario would result in consistently beautiful results. In order to achieve this, the cosmetic dentist must have an established relationship with a high-quality dental laboratory.
- REFERENCES: A cosmetic dentist should be able to provide a list of clients on whom he or she has completed cosmetic procedures. This is the best way for a potential client to gauge the patient's experience with their cosmetic dentist and their degree of satisfaction with the final product.
Hopefully, these guidelines will help in the process of selecting the cosmetic dentist who is right for you
For years, whenever you needed a dental crown (cap), your dentist had to make molds of your teeth which required taking an impression of your teeth. A tray filled with a goopy, putty-like material was used so that a three-dimensional model of the prepared tooth could be created. Using this mold, a dental lab could custom-craft the new crown.
However, as we journey further into the technology-driven 21st century, this traditional methodology is being replaced with virtual models — made using small, handheld “wands” that employ a digital camera and some reflective dust.
Here's how it works
The initial phase of restoration, preparing the tooth surface, remains virtually the same. First, any dental decay must be removed, and the remaining tooth must be shaped so that a crown or filling can be fitted properly. This will allow the tooth to be restored to its original shape, look, and function. Next, the area is lightly dusted with a reflective material (not a goopy impression material) so that multiple images of your tooth's surface can be recorded with a small scanning wand. Later, the computer component is connected to the scanning wand and these separate images are combined into a computer-generated 3D image.
This remarkable tool uses blue wavelength light to precisely capture the unique nooks and crannies of your tooth's surface and make a highly accurate 3D digital model. It makes it possible to instantaneously examine your tooth, and your bite. It's possible to identify any additional prep work required for new crowns, veneers and fillings right then and there; to implement any needed changes; and to rescan the tooth to create a new series of images and 3D model.
Once the image capture and prep work are satisfactory, your images are sent on to the lab for fabrication. This technique makes it possible to create a crown or a filling that can often be completed during a single office visit.
How this technology benefits you
- Finally, you can say goodbye to the goop, gagging, discomfort, and anxiety you've experienced in the past with traditional dental impression materials!
- It enables the immediate assessment of whether or not your tooth has been properly prepared for restoration.
- This technology is ideal for fabricating restorations such as new crowns, veneers and fillings for teeth — often possible in one office visit.
- It takes less time than traditional dental impressions.