Q: Why should a missing tooth be replaced?
A: The healthiest thing to do when a tooth is missing is to have it replaced. Otherwise, there is a risk of problems that may include:
- Difficulty biting and chewing
- Difficulty speaking
- Muscle pain
- Unattractive appearance
Q: What are dental implants?
A: Dental implants serve as the base for many tooth-replacement options, including bridges, dentures and individual artificial teeth. Implants are surgically implanted in the jaw to provide a comfortable, secure fit.
Q: What is involved in dental implantation?
A: In a series of one or two appointments, the post, or anchor, is implanted in the jaw. Once the bone and gums have healed, the replacement tooth, bridge or denture is fitted and installed. Dental implant surgery may be performed in an office or hospital with local or general anesthesia.
Q: What are veneers?
A: Veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells that are custom-fit and bonded to the front sides of teeth to close gaps, cover stains and discolorations, and correct chipped or misshapen teeth.
Q: Why are dental crowns used?
A: Dental crowns are used to strengthen and improve the shape, size or color of teeth. They can help to:
- Support broken or weak teeth or those with large fillings
- Provide a smooth, strong, contoured surface for stained, crooked or abnormal teeth
- Aid in the implantation of bridges and other implants
Q: What do dental bridges do?
A: Dental bridges, also called fixed partial dentures, are natural-looking tooth replacements which help maintain facial structure, reduce stress on the jaw and fill in gaps caused by missing teeth.
Q: Can dental bridges be removed for cleaning?
A: Removable dental bridges can be taken out and cleaned at home, but fixed dental bridges are implanted in the jaw and bonded to the teeth with crowns or caps and cannot be removed.
Q: What does in-office tooth whitening or bleaching involve?
In-office tooth bleaching, also called chair side bleaching, takes place over a series of one-hour appointments at a dentist’s office. First, the teeth are examined and cleaned to make sure there are no cavities, loose fillings, gum problems or other issues that may be affected by the bleaching process. Then the dentist makes a custom-fit mouth tray for the teeth.
Bleaching gel, which contains a hydrogen peroxide solution, is applied to the teeth in the tray. Often, another gel or rubber shield is fit over the gums to protect them. An ultraviolet light is then shone on the teeth to facilitate the process.
Q: What are whitening strips?
A: Whitening strips are designed to help whiten teeth quickly and easily. They are clear, thin, flexible strips coated with a peroxide bleaching gel, and can be bought without a prescription. They need to be worn for 30 minutes, twice a day, for about 21 days. More time may be necessary for teeth with significant staining. Results may last for up to one year.