By Alexander Germanis
The link between physical appearance and health has been fairly well established. Feeling confident and being happy with one’s outward appearance can have dramatic positive effects on one’s health. Logically, then, the physical manifestation of happiness—a healthy smile—can both lead to and be reflective of a more healthy individual.
It may come as no surprise that “one of the best ways to improve your smile is through orthodontic treatment,” insists Dr. Emil Verban, DDS of Bloomington. But for those who need a little extra assistance beyond the regular cleanings and check-ups, dentists like Dr. Verban, bring cosmetic dentistry into play.
Many people are familiar with the cosmetic treatment of tooth whitening, a procedure that can often be done at home; but for those who desire a white smile beyond what can be achieved by a store-bought kit, teeth bleaching is an option.
“Bleaching is different from whitening,” explains Dr. Verban. “Bleaching is taking the shade of the tooth and making it whiter than it actually is. Whitening is just taking the superficial stain off.” So, no matter how often or how long one chooses to whiten one’s teeth, “they’re not going to get whiter than the natural shade.”
“You can’t predict the outcome because every tooth responds differently,” Dr. Verban says. He explains that whereas one person’s teeth may be able to whiten by three or four shades, another individual’s teeth might not whiten at all. “Some people have unrealistic expectations of how white they want their teeth and sometimes they simply can’t reach that level.”
There are other cosmetic options to improve one’s smile, though. Caps and veneers are both less temporary solutions to the quest for an improved smile and Dr. Verban cleverly illustrates the difference between the two.
“Think of the veneer as a false fingernail,” he says. “It just covers the front surface and it’s extremely thin, like a half a millimeter. It’s a wafer of porcelain in the color and shape of the tooth and it’s pressed—bonded to the surface. A cap surrounds the whole tooth, 360 degrees all the way around. It’s a little bit thicker and it’s used to replace more missing tooth structure than a veneer.”
Nevertheless, both are options for those whose teeth are in need of a restructuring. “A veneer can be used to slightly modify the shape, the color, the appearance,” he adds. “A minimal amount of tooth structure is removed prior to pressing on the veneer. You have to remove some tooth structure otherwise the tooth is going to appear to be too large.”
Teeth appearing too large is a problem some people have naturally. There’s a solution for those with “toothy smiles,” Dr. Verban insists. “We can shorten them [by] taking away tooth structure.” The problem with that is, much of the removed tooth structure is made up of the protective enamel. This exposes the dentin—the sensitive calcified tissue that makes up the bulk of the overall tooth. So, once the enamel is removed, a veneer or cap needs to be utilized in order to protect the now-exposed dentin.
For the opposite problem—a ‘gummy smile’—a clinical crown lengthening can change the appearance of the size of the teeth,” Dr. Verban says. “Teeth that are excessively small can be made to appear longer.” In this case, some of the gum tissue is removed and the teeth can then be lengthened with longer caps or veneers “to restore the proper balance and harmony to the tooth.”
Dentists’ ultimate goal is to improve the lives of their patients by improving their smiles. “It’s amazing, when you do these procedures, how people’s personalities can change,” Dr. Verban says. “There are marvelous things that can be done.”
For more information, you may contact Dr. Emil Verban, Jr., DDS at 309-662-8448 or visit www.mcleancountydental.com. McLean County Dental is located at 2103 E. Washington Street in Bloomington. Dr. Verban provides his patients both general dentistry expertise and the ability to provide specialized services such as cosmetic procedures and dental implants.