Gaps in your teeth? Fashion Trend or Cause for Concern? San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L Loev, DMD Gives you Options.
We have all seen famous stars such as Elton John, Madonna and Lauren Hutton flaunting their trademark tooth gaps but should you? Spacing between two teeth is called a diastema. Just because stars have decided to retain these gaps does it mean you should too? That depends… If you just love the look, can commit to flossing multiple times per day (plaque loves to hide out in the spaces between teeth) and the rest of your teeth aren’t crowded then maybe you should keep the gap. Otherwise, treating it isn’t just a cosmetic decision but also a dental health one. Did you know that about 25% of American adults have a gap somewhere between their front teeth? Why? Well, there is are many reasons for diastema including missing teeth, oversized labial frenum (the piece of membrane that connects the lip to the gums. You can feel it with your tongue) periodontal disease, thumb sucking, abnormal oral growths, or even a suspect swallowing reflex.
When we are young and still have baby teeth we don’t worry much about gaps in teeth. Gaps in baby teeth are not much of a concern says San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, but as we age these gaps in adult teeth may need to be corrected so that surrounding teeth do not become too crowded and prone to gum disease. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that almost 48% of adults over 30 in the US suffer from some form of periodontal disease. So, what are your dental solutions?
Dental bonding is the quickest and generally least expensive treatment option. As long as spacing between teeth isn’t too large using composite resin (a light activated special type of plastic/resin) is a great solution for diastema. Tooth-colored composite resin is applied to both teeth that are creating the space. The resin is then hardened using a special light to cure or adhere it to the teeth. Finally the cured resin is polished and smoothed to look natural and take care of any sharp or rigid edges. Start to finish this procedure can take as little as 30-60 minutes and make a dramatic change both dentally and esthetically.
Dental bonding is a great way to temporarily camouflage those unwanted and unhealthy gaps. Yes, we did say temporarily. The catch with composite resin is that it is plastic which means that it is porous and can stain, it is also contending with the hardest surface in the body, tooth enamel every day. Wearing a bite guard if you are aware of clenching and grinding and avoiding habits such as nail biting and chewing on hard objects are good tips to increasing the longevity of the resin. Because of the staining tendency of resin try rinsing or brushing after drinking wine and coffee and be aware that smoking can cause discoloration. It is estimated that depending on personal habits dental bonding can last from a few months to a few years. On average, the per-tooth cost of dental bonding ranges from $300 to $700. In some cases insurance will participate in a portion of the cost of this treatment. However, it is most commonly considered cosmetic.
Dental Porcelain Veneers
One of the easiest way to explain porcelain veneers is to compare them to fake finger nails. In the case of fingernails the nail is prepared by gently filing down the top surface and then applying a thin shell of plastic. Porcelain veneers are of course a bit more complex but they are based on the same concept. A dental impression is taken of your teeth and then your teeth are filed down gently to obtain the most optimum shape for restoration. Usually a temporary veneer made of plastic is placed on the prepared surface to allow time for an expert dental laboratory to fabricate a custom porcelain shell/veneer with just the right color, shading and translucency. After “test-driving” your temporary veneers for a couple of weeks it is gently removed and your permanent, strong porcelain veneer adhered using a special bonding resin. As with the dental bonding, this resin is activated using a special light that turns it from a soft malleable substance to a solid, hard one. Veneers are a long lasting, high quality diastema fix and can make your smile look great. Two or three visits may be necessary for this procedure. While a fairly quick, almost permanent fix to unwanted spacing it is important to note that 1) The veneer process can take 2-3 visits 2) In most cases once you have had veneers on your teeth you can no longer have “naked” teeth. In some rare cases little to no tooth reduction (no-prep) is required prior to veneer placement but for the most part enough enamel is removed that either a veneer or crown will be required to seal the tooth from there on out. 3) Porcelain veneers are very strong but for those who clench or grind their teeth a night guard or bite guard is generally suggested
Today, porcelain veneers so closely match natural teeth that they are nearly undetectable. “From nature only better says Dr. Loev, unlike natural teeth, veneers should not stain or discolor. Once the shades are chosen for a veneer it will not change so we often suggest that patients bleach their teeth prior to moving forward with veneers so that can truly optimize their final smile result.”
The cost of porcelain veneers is impacted by a variety of factors, such as number of teeth to be treated and geographic location. Based on recent research you can estimate having to spend roughly $925 to $2,750 per tooth. Traditional porcelain veneers last on average between 10 to 15 years. As with dental bonding, sometimes dental insurance will participate to an extent on the cost of veneers but they generally consider the treatment cosmetic.
Invisalign® is a fantastic treatment for gaps in teeth. Some diastema are caused by a misalignment between the jaw and mouth; which can cause multiple spaces and crowding. While dental bonding and veneers are fantastic quick solutions for spaced and/or crowded teeth sometimes the spacing is too wide to be treated using these methods. In addition, sometimes the underlying causes of the spacing is something that is best treated orthodontically. Many adults cringe at the idea of braces. Invisalign® is a fantastic solution for those who aren’t good candidates for veneers or bonding or those looking for a permanent non-invasive solution that does not included metal brackets and wires. Most Invisalign® treatment takes an average of 9 months but can last anywhere from 6 months to a few years. For patient’s fortunate enough to have adult orthodontic coverage under their dental plans, Invisalign® is often covered in part by their plans; which reduces out of pocket expenses often by half. Invisalign® ranges in cost based on complexity, length of treatment and whether adjunct procedures are required. Price also varies by geographic location but can range from $1000-8500. It is important to note that to maintain proper spacing after treatment a retainer or fixed retention device will be required.
If you want to eliminate spacing and/or crowding because it bothers you esthetically or because of the clinical risk but are worried about the expense or not having insurance, don’t be. “We want all patients to have healthy, dream smiles says San Francisco Dentist Dr. Loev. To facilitate this we have teamed will multiple healthcare financing companies so that we have a program for almost everybody. From extended payment plans with low-interest rates, payment plans with no interest at all and generous cash discounts we want to make smiling easy.” Many experienced dentist feel as Dr. Loev does and have payment programs in place to make saying yes to treatment easier. Ask your dentist about what treatment option is best for you and how they can help you afford it on almost any budget.
Do you want to make a change but don’t know where to start? See if your dentist offers complimentary smile consultations. If your dentist doesn’t offer them or if you don’t have a dentist we would love the chance to earn your trust. We do everything in our power to ensure that your treatments and care reflect your individual wants and needs because your time and health are very important to us.
Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been practicing dentistry in his Downtown San Francisco dental office for over 40 years. He has surrounded himself with an amazing team of individuals who are committed to patient care and service. Call them today at 415-392-2072 to set-up a complimentary cosmetic consultation or even just a new patient visit if you are in need/want of a new dentist.