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Cosmetic, Preventative and Restorative Dentistry Explained

Dentistry is about much more than visiting your dentist for a routine check-up. Dental care is multi-faceted and encompasses three distinct levels: preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Each of these different approaches is unique and aims to care for the teeth in a different way. But what exactly is the difference between these types of treatment?

Preventative Dentistry
Preventative dentistry is about caring for the teeth in order to keep them healthy and to prevent the need for future corrective dental procedures. Preventative care involves maintaining good oral health in the form of daily brushing and flossing as well as regular dental check-ups and professional cleans. This helps to minimise the risk of developing cavities, gingivitis, enamel loss and periodontitis, which require restorative dental treatment.

It is important to take responsibility for your own dental health by engaging in good oral health practices and combining this with regular visits to the dentist. This is the most effective form of preventative dentistry.

Restorative Dentistry
Dental procedures are sometimes required to treat decay or damage in the mouth. This is known as restorative dentistry. This branch of dentistry is different to preventative dentistry in that it seeks to correct dental problems that are already in existence. The aim of restorative dentistry is to restore the appearance and function of teeth.

Some of the common reasons for which patients seek out restorative treatments include tooth decay, chipped or cracked teeth, missing teeth, discolouration, misaligned teeth and gaps in teeth. There are many treatment options to correct these problems and your dentist may recommend fillings, crowns and bridges, dental implants or dentures, among many other possibilities.

Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic dentistry generally refers to any kind of dental work that improves the appearance of a person’s teeth without being an essential procedure. The primary aim of cosmetic dentistry is to improve the aesthetics of a person’s teeth, gums or bite. It deals specifically with the overall appearance of the smile including the colour of the teeth, alignment, position, shape and size and also the appearance of gums.

There are a variety of cosmetic procedures available that are appealing to many people. The most popular procedure is tooth whitening in which teeth are bleached to remove stains and appear brighter. Other common procedures include tooth reshaping in which parts of the enamel are removed to improve the appearance of a tooth, gum lifting and veneers.

Accelerated Orthodontics: Straighten Your Teeth Fast

For someone with crooked teeth, having braces fitted is the solution. Whilst many people have braces fitted in their teen years, adults may also choose to get braces to correct their teeth. The median length of time that braces are fitted for is between two and four years, which for most adults, is a very long period of time. Fortunately, advancements in orthodontic procedures have meant that with accelerated orthodontics, this time span is reduced to under a year, with most people only needing to wear braces for between three and eight months.

What is accelerated orthodontics?

Accelerated orthodontics is a type of orthodontics in which braces are fitted in combination with a minor surgical procedure. This surgery is what lessens the time needed for the braces to work in straightening the teeth.

What does the procedure involve?

Before the braces are fitted, the orthodontist will perform a procedure in which the gums and bones are shaved and reformed to allow the teeth to align into the correct position more quickly.

Accelerated Orthodontics Pros:

  • The most obvious benefit of accelerated orthodontics is the shortened amount of time that is needed to correct the alignment of teeth. For adults with professional careers, this can be a particularly attractive benefit.
  • Any type of braces can be used.
  • Correcting misalignment has been shown to drastically boost self-confidence in people.

Accelerated Orthodontics Cons:

  • The surgical procedure can add an extra layer of discomfort, especially immediately afterwards.
  • It is a very expensive procedure and one that is not commonly covered by most insurance companies.
  • Because the procedure is fast-tracked, your teeth will shift much more quickly than they would with regular braces fitted. This means that you will need to make very frequent visits to the orthodontist to regularly have your braces tightened.
  • Because accelerated orthodontics is such a new field, there isn’t much research relating to the long-term effects of the procedure and whether the teeth will remain aligned. However, at this stage, all indications point in the direction that the accelerated orthodontics procedure is just as effective as having traditional braces fitted for an extended period of time.
  • Accelerated orthodontics is not possible for everyone. If your teeth are severely misaligned, unfortunately traditional orthodontics are the only option.

For more information about the procedure, make an appointment with your dentist or orthopaedist to discuss the procedure in detail.

Getting Braces: What to Expect

If you have crooked or misaligned teeth (either an overbite or an underbite), there are a variety of different treatments that can help to straighten your teeth. It is important to correct an abnormal bite because, if left unattended to, it may cause one or more of the following conditions:

  • tooth decay
  • gum disease
  • tooth loss
  • affected speech and/or chewing
  • jaw problems
  • abnormal wear of enamel

One of the most common treatments for misaligned teeth is to have braces fitted.

Dentist or orthodontist?

Most general dentists can do basic realignment, but an orthodontist specialises in correcting irregularities in teeth. Your dentist will inform you as to whether he or she can correct your misaligned teeth or whether you need to see an orthodontist.

What’s the best age to get braces?

There is no ‘best’ age to have braces fitted. For children, the ideal time is somewhere between the ages of 10-14 when a child’s mouth and head are still growing. The ideal age for braces depends entirely on a child’s growth. Braces can also be effective in both older teenagers and adults.

The process

During an oral examination, impressions of your teeth will be made and photographs of both your face and inside your mouth will be taken. X-rays of your mouth and head will also be ordered. Once all of this information has been analysed, a treatment plan will be discussed with you.

How are braces fitted?

Initially, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned and dried. The next step involves applying bonding glue to your teeth, which allows the braces to stick to them. Brackets will then be adhered directly onto your teeth and an archwire will then be threaded through them to join them. Finally, elastic bands will secure the braces.

How long will I have to wear braces for?

The period of time you will have to wear your braces for really depends on how much adjustment is required. In general, it takes anywhere between 12 to 24 months for your teeth to be realigned.

Will braces be painful?

Given the fact that your teeth are being gently realigned, it is common to feel some mild pain or discomfort. This occurs most commonly when your braces are tightened during visits to your orthodontist. Some over-the-counter pain medications can help ease the pain. If you experience a lot of discomfort, talk to your orthodontist about it and he or she may be able to make some changes in how your braces are adjusted.

FAQ’s – adult orthodontics.


What is adult orthodontics?

Adult orthodontics is the process of correcting crooked teeth to produce a straight, confident and beautiful smile.

How is adult orthodontics different from children’s orthodontics?

On adult orthodontics we mainly concentrate on the appearance of the front teeth, and would tend to accept the position of the back teeth. With children’s orthodontics, it may well be necessary to move some of the back teeth as well as some of the front teeth to achieve a stable smile. This can be achieved in adults without having to move the back teeth. (more…)

Invisalign: Small things make a big difference

Although mild to moderate alignment problems may not be associated with significant health concerns, having even just one or two crooked teeth can really affect your self-confidence.

Subtle straightening solutions
Invisalign is an ‘invisible’ orthodontic solution that is particularly effective for subtle straightening and tackling minor crowding or spacing problems.


Types of braces

Many of us pass up the opportunity of braces in our self-conscious teenage years only to regret that decision as we grow older. If you’re self-conscious about your smile and are considering what orthodontic options might be open to you, this article explains the different types of braces currently available.

Traditional metal braces
The traditional metal braces that your dentist possibly discussed with you when you were younger are still the most commonly used. Why is this? They are exceptionally strong and can withstand most types of treatment. They are also typically the least expensive of all braces.


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