Cosmetic Dentistry FAQ by D. Ian Bell, DDS in Bellevue, WA
How long will it take to get a new smile?
A. This depends upon the condition of your teeth and what results you desire. Some procedures such as composite restorations can be completed in one visit. Other procedures such as veneers and crowns can take as few as two visits. More complex procedures like full arch reconstruction, implants, dentures and orthodontics can take several months or years.
Q. How long can I expect my new smile to last?
A. There are many factors that contribute to the longevity of dental treatment; most importantly how well you take care of your teeth! Certain procedures such as teeth whitening need regular maintenance to keep up the white shade, while other procedures such as veneers, crowns and implants can last for decades.
Q. What procedures will I need to achieve my ideal smile?
A. Again, this depends upon the condition of your mouth and your desired outcome. In some cases orthodontics is necessary to establish a good foundation on which to reconstruct the dentition. In other instances, for example, patients desiring a brighter smile may be able to simply bleach for a couple of weeks. In other situations crooked or stained teeth might be able to be restored with veneers or crowns in just a couple of visits. At your consultation we can discuss your options and work with you to achieve the results you desire.
Q. I'd like to have whiter teeth. What are my options?
A. Depending upon the color of your teeth, custom trays and at-home bleaching may be the best option. In some cases of severe discoloration it may be advantageous to consider veneers or crowns to achieve the desired results. Don't be fooled by claims of in-office bleaching results. The in-office procedure is more expensive, and most often patients find the procedure significantly painful and must use the take home bleach trays to obtain the desired level of teeth whitening.
Q. My front teeth are crooked and have a gap, and I don't want braces. Do I need to have orthodontics to improve my smile?
A. In general the best way to correct crooked teeth and misalignment is to have orthodontic treatment. In some cases, however, it is possible to improve the aesthetics of your smile and correct misaligned teeth or gaps with crowns or veneers. An examination of your teeth alignment and assessment of your bite will reveal the possibilities available to you.
Q. Does insurance cover cosmetic procedures?
A. If the procedures are replacing existing, failing dental work, insurance may cover part of the cost. Please keep in mind that your specific policy is an agreement between you and your insurance company. There is a wide range of reimbursement options available by different insurance companies. Your reimbursement depends upon the plan you and/or your employer elected. Per the industry standard, when you visit any dental office you are responsible for the amount that is not covered by your insurance. For procedures that are not covered we are pleased to offer financing through CareCredit®.
Which are better to fill the gap of a missing tooth: implants or bridges?
A. If you have missing teeth both options should be considered! Recent studies suggest that both options have comparable success rates, so it really depends upon the condition in your mouth and your overall health. If the teeth adjacent to the space have old, failing fillings a bridge might be the better option. On the other hand, implants are a superior choice if the adjacent teeth are healthy. Both options restore a natural looking smile, keep gums and bone healthy, keep teeth from drifting out of position and improve bite and speech.
Q. What is involved in getting a bridge or crown? And how many appointments will it take?
A. In general, it takes two appointments for crown and bridge procedures. During the first appointment the teeth are prepared for the crown or bridge, an impression is taken (and sent to our master ceramicist) and a temporary is fabricated to facilitate your normal function and protect the prepared teeth. At the second appointment the crown or bridge is seated with permanent cement. In some cases, for example with anterior teeth, it may take more than one seat appointment to attain the desired aesthetic result.
Q. Is it necessary to replace my existing silver-colored amalgam fillings with composite?
A. The ADA considers dental amalgam a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used to restore teeth for hundreds of millions of Americans. While there is some evidence that amalgam fillings release mercury into the body, the jury is still out as to how much harm this poses. If the fillings are in good shape and there are no cracks or fractures in your teeth there is no medical need to replace them. In some instances, however, patients choose to replace their fillings for cosmetic or health related reasons.