Most people are surprised when I tell them that I was born without a tooth. Specifically, I don’t have a #7 incisor. Also, my #10 incisor is deformed and sits back further than the others. Do you have any recommendations on dental treatments for me? When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have the money to do anything. Now, that I’m older I want to stop hiding my smile. Should I be looking for a cosmetic dentist at this point? I have been doing some research and am thinking that is the best option for me.
-Kara in California
Thank you for reaching out. Of course you are interested in getting these issues addressed. Everyone deserves to feel confident when they smile. From what you have described, I don’t believe there is any reason to believe that the teeth surrounding your missing tooth are not healthy. So, as long as that is the case, you are probably going to be happiest with a dental implant to replace that missing tooth. Dental implants look, feel and function just like natural teeth. They are a permanent solution to missing teeth.The implant post is surgically implanted into the bone and then a porcelain crown is placed over top of the implant.
Now, if for some reason the teeth that surround the missing tooth aren’t in good shape, you may be a candidate for a dental bridge. A bridge is less expensive than a dental implant. However, the two teeth that surround the missing tooth will be required to be ground down and prepared for porcelain crowns. This is because the surrounding teeth are what will support the false tooth that will fill the gap where your missing tooth currently sits. A bridge can still be an option for you, but it would be a shame to do such an invasive treatment on the surrounding healthy teeth.
For the tooth that is deformed, you have a couple options. A porcelain veneer may work for you. This cosmetic dentistry treatment is placed on the surface of the tooth. It will depend on the severity of the deformity as to whether or not the porcelain veneer will look right. The other option is a porcelain crown for the deformed tooth. The natural tooth is prepared by grinding it down to prepare it like a seat for the porcelain crown to fit over top of the tooth. Again, this all depends on the shape of your tooth. So it is difficult to give you specific recommendations without having seen you in person. But, the good news is that you have options.
The best case scenario for you would be to find the best cosmetic dentist in your area that also is skilled at dental implants. Both implant dentistry and cosmetic dentistry require extensive training beyond dental school. However, neither of them is considered a specialty area within dentistry. So, when you are looking for the right dentist, ask to have a consultation, learn more about their credentials and ask to see a portfolio of their work. Ask them each of them if they have treated patients in similar situations as yours to figure out the right dentist for you.
There will be some technical skill required to get the dental implant to match the porcelain veneer or crown perfectly. This is because it requires a thorough understanding of coloration and bonding techniques. Also, the veneer and crown are made much differently in the laboratory or ceramist. The bottom line is that an excellent dentist will be able to match them just right. But it is also important to realize that cosmetic dentistry is like an art. Less than 2% of dentists actually have the skill or passion for aesthetics to be considered a true cosmetic dentist. It may require you to meet with a several dentists and to get a second or even a third opinion before committing.
Thank you for reaching out with your questions. Hopefully, this information is helpful to you and will also help others who are looking to address similar dental issues.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Rick Lane, DDS.