Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What is cosmetic dentistry?

Q. What is cosmetic dentistry?
A. Cosmetic dentistry is the art and science of altering a person's existing tooth colour, form or alignment to achieve a condition that best matches an aesthetic norm.
Q. Is cosmetic dentistry a dental specialty?
A. No. There is no such dental specialty. Nevertheless, there is plenty of scope for the practice of cosmetic dentistry in the various dental specialties like prosthodontics and periodontology. However, cosmetic dentistry is very much an art. How good a cosmetic dentist one is depends a lot on his eye for aesthetics and his ability to improvise or think out of the box. Many tricks of the trade are not taught in dental school.
Q. What is intravenous sedation?
A. This is not a dental procedure and we will call in an anaesthetist to administer a drug through a vein in the patient's hand. The patient then goes into a deep sleep while the dental procedure is carried out. The patient recovers in minutes after the drug is stopped.
Q. What is your most common cosmetic procedure?
A. Our most common cosmetic procedure is bleaching or tooth whitening followed by crown repositioning or "instant orthodontics".
Q. What is your most common gum surgery procedure?
A. We often do gingivectomy to recontour red and puffy gums which almost cover up the teeth. We also do some crown lengthening procedures to expose teeth and eliminate gummy smiles. For more complex procedures, we call in our periodonic colleagues.
Q. Are implants the best way to replace missing teeth?
A. Like all treatment modalities, implants have their advantages and disadvantages. Unless your bone condition is ideal, implant supported crowns and bridges will not give a superior cosmetic result without extensive preconditioning surgery. If function is your main concern, implants will probably satisfy you better than other restorations. Restoring flattened jaw bones cosmetically with implant bridges can be a major challenge. The success rate for implants in the upper jaw is considerably lower than that for the lower jaw. The time taken for implant restoration is also relatively long. Of course, the costs are significantly higher than other forms of tooth replacement. Do remember that implants do not necessarily need to go with fixed restorations like crowns and bridges. Implant stabilised dentures may be a better option in some of the non-ideal cases.
Q. Can general practitioners do implants?
A. Implants are composed of the fixture (surgical) and the restoration (crown/bridge/denture). Traditionally, the fixture was done by the oral surgeon while the restoration was done by the prosthodontist. Nowadays, implant courses are available to all GPs. Our colleagues who are OMS (oral maxillofacial surgery) specialists agree that most dental implants can be placed by experienced GPs. At New Age Cosmetic Dentists, we have successfully handled simple to challenging surgical cases.
Q. Is implant dentistry part of cosmetic dentistry?
A. Unfortunately, many implant restoration cases are often not as ideally asesthetic as we want them to be. Aesthetic implant restorations often require a very lucky patient or very complex gum and bone grafting procedures.
Q. How safe am I from getting AIDS from the clinic ?
A. Contrary to what many people may think, HIV is not a hardy organism at all. Strong detergents are known to destroy it. However, we're not taking any chances, especially with spore-forming viruses like hepatitis B. We autoclave all our metal instruments at 132oC under steam pressure for 5 minutes. Instruments for invasive procedures are sealed in plastic envelopes during sterilisation. We cut them open when they are needed. Needles, gloves and other plastic instruments are used only once.
Q. Do you do braces?
A. Braces form an important component in cosmetic dentistry. Unfortunately, our centre is basically a one-man practice and Dr Chan does not have time to master orthodontics. However, we have teamed up with our orthodontic colleagues to be able to recommend practitioners who will suit our patients' budget or style.
Q. Do you treat children?
A. Our clinic does not specilaise in paedodontics. We are only able to treat co-operative children.
Q. Do you treat wheelchair bound patients?
A. We can handle most wheelchair bound patients who are able to co-operate. We do not charge extra fees.
Q. Do you follow special protocols for amalgam removal?
A. Even though we are a 100% amalgam free clinic, we do not believe in the amalgam toxicity to the same extent as some practices in the US. We simply remove our amalgams with high speed water spray and high vacuum suction. Some revolutionary practitioners in the US have insisted that the patient be "spacesuited" and given a separate air supply, followed by megadoses of "patented" detoxifying nutrients before and after treatment. We do not go to such extents.

Q. Why are my emails not replied?
A. There may be a lot of information on this site, but please note that we are a serious, hands-on, bricks and mortar business. This website is meant only to provide basic information and to serve communication purposes. We welcome serious enquiries pertaining to any specific problem that any patient or potential patient may have. We look forward to meeting the enquirer in person for examination and treatment planning. Please note that we are not just a free information centre. Our clinical duties take top priority and in the process of replying numerous emails, we may not have time to entertain enquirers who have no intention of visiting us. If you need much more general information than what you managed to find here, please check out the American Dental Association website, buy some dental books from or check out your local library.

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