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As an adult, what are my options for teeth straightening?

Typically, we always recommend orthodontics or cosmetic braces as the ideal first option since it is the most conservative method to move your teeth into perfect position.  As an adult, the bone in your jaws is generally denser in quality, and though the movement that occurs is slower, our cases show stable, excellent results in a reasonable timeframe.  Sometimes if the tooth malalignment is minor, we can “visually” straighten the teeth with porcelain veneers and crowns, something we commonly refer to as “instant orthodontics”.  In cases where teeth have been previously heavily-filled and are darkly stained, patients will often select this option, since the colour and visual position of the teeth can be corrected at the same time.

Do you offer invisible braces?

Yes, we have three varieties of “invisible” or cosmetically-geared orthodontic solutions.

The first option, Invisalign, is a virtually-clear “suckdown” type of braces.  Like a bleaching tray, it comfortably fits over your teeth and must be worn for about 23 hours per day, except whilst eating and drinking.  The projected result is first shown to you on a computer, as well as an accurate timeline until completion of treatment.  You change the Invisalign brace every two weeks until the end of your treatment.  This option is not as efficient (not as fast) or accurate as the next two options.

The second option involves braces as you know them, except the tiny brackets that are bonded to your teeth are made from clear ceramic instead of metal, making them virtually invisible from a distance.  We also use coated wires to help camouflage the braces during your treatment.  We are able to move teeth more accurately and efficiently with this option than with Invisalign.

The last option for braces requires a mouth that belongs to a person who loves thorough oral hygiene.  Lingual orthodontics are braces in the conventional sense, but are bonded on the inside surface of the tooth, instead of the outside, where it is most obvious that you have braces.  The obvious problem with this system is the need for adequate space, especially tongue space, as well as mandatory excellent oral hygiene practices.  We are the first dental practice in New Zealand to offer  “In-Ovation lingual mini brackets”.

What is the difference between a veneer and a crown?

A porcelain veneer is often used by dental professionals as a cosmetic procedure to change the colour and/or shape of a particular tooth.  A veneer measures about 0.5mm thick, and is a thin, optically-beautiful, colour matched facing that is permanently bonded to the surface of your tooth.  As the eye looks for symmetry and balance, often there are one or a few teeth that are slightly out of alignment or slightly the wrong colour possibly due to past trauma.  Provided that there is healthy tooth structure (enamel) for bonding, one or more porcelain veneers are used as the restoration of choice.

Porcelain crowns are used when tooth support is required or when tooth colour needs to be blocked out.  Often, in the process of a dental reconstruction we find that there is inadequate tooth structure remaining after all the old filling material has been removed.  To support and preserve the remaining tooth structure, a crown surrounds and envelopes the tooth, also with the ability to simultaneously transform it, like a veneer.  The gold standard for a tooth that has had a root canal treatment completed is to have a crown supporting the remaining tooth structure.  This is due to the acquired brittleness of the tooth following removal of the pulp.  As the tooth typically darkens after a root canal, the crown serves to block out the dark colour and keep your tooth matching its neighbours in colour.With porcelain veneers and crowns, we are generally able to transform your tooth or entire smile in just two appointments.

What materials do you use for veneers?

We offer composite resin and porcelain veneers.  Composite veneers when placed by a true artist offer esthetic beauty rivalling or surpassing that of porcelain.  There is less tooth reduction with composite veneers; this conservative approach minimizing any irritation to the nerve.  Composite veneers are easily repaired and resurfaced in the mouth, allowing for simple maintenance long-term.  Composite veneers cost approximately half the price per tooth compared to porcelain veneers.

Porcelain veneers are optically beautiful shells of feldspathic porcelain, built by hand and fired to perfection in a ceramist’s porcelain furnace.  There is slightly greater tooth reduction necessary for porcelain veneers compared to composite veneers.  A minimum thickness is needed for resilience of the porcelain restoration, generally about 0.5mm.  Porcelain veneers are stronger than composite veneers, and the surface glaze lasts much longer than composite.  However, porcelain veneers cannot be repaired predictably long-term in the mouth, and large repairs are often completed with a new porcelain veneer.  Porcelain veneers do not stain as readily as composite veneers.  Approximately 85% of all our cosmetic rehabilitations involve porcelain restorations.

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