Posts for: December, 2013

By R. Tracy Durrett, D.D.S.
December 24, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crown  
ConsideralltheCostFactorsWhenDecidingonaCrownRestoration

A crown restoration is a fabricated replica of a natural tooth. The mechanics and methods to prepare the tooth and attach the new crown are standard procedures in dentistry. But the crowns themselves — their individual shape, color and material from which they’re constructed — can differ greatly depending on each patient’s individual needs and desires. All these factors can have a bearing on cost — not to mention the process a dentist may employ to produce a custom crown.

Crowns are usually fashioned by a dental laboratory technician using castings of the patient’s mouth prepared by the dentist. These professionals should be considered artists as well as scientists. And, like artists with certain areas of strength and expertise, individual technicians may also develop high practical skill for a particular type of tooth replacement; it’s not uncommon for a dentist to use a different dental technician for a particular type and size of tooth to be restored. This could prove to be a factor in the final cost.

The efforts to create the best color in the crown can also affect cost. While we think of teeth as uniformly “pearly white,” there really are variations and gradations in normal tooth color (even within the same tooth). Again, a bit of artistry is important here, as the dentist communicates with the technician on not only the color but also the subtle hue gradations along the length of the crown. Your input as a patient is also valuable in determining color — you must be satisfied with the final product. Fortunately, it’s now possible to take a “test drive” of your potentially new look with a provisional crown that will allow you to see just how your permanent crown (which will be made of longer-lasting, higher quality materials) will appear.

These factors, as well as the limitations you may face by your insurance coverage, can greatly influence the final cost of treatment. As your dentist, we will consult and work with you to find the best crown restoration option that will fit both your dental needs and your financial ability.

If you would like more information on your options for crowns and other restorations, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Value of Quality Care.”


By R. Tracy Durrett, D.D.S.
December 10, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
PadmaLakshmisSmileARecipeforBeauty

Before she began hosting the long-running TV competition Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi was a well-known model and successful cookbook author. (Appropriately, she is said to have been “discovered” by a modeling agent while sitting in a café in Madrid.) Yet the Indian-born beauty's striking look — at once exotic and familiar — doesn't come from any cookie-cutter mold.

So when Lakshmi had cosmetic work done on her teeth, early in her career, her dentist didn't use a cookie-cutter approach either: Instead, her smile was carefully designed, using small amounts of bonding material to brighten her teeth and to bring their shape and spacing into harmony with her facial features.

Dentistry by Design
What exactly is smile design — and what could it do for you? Essentially, it's the process of evaluating your smile in concert with the appearance of your entire face, and visualizing the changes — some dramatic and some subtle — that will make it really shine. Some aspects we consider include the face's shape, the proportion or “balance” of facial features, the complexion, eye and lip color and form, and the overall dimensions of the smile.

Based on dental aesthetics and clinical experience, we will probably have a number of suggestions to make on how you can improve your smile. Your input will also be very important; while some individuals prefer perfectly even teeth and a sparkling “Hollywood white” smile, others are looking for a result that's more in keeping with a “natural” look: slight irregularities in tooth shape, spacing, and even color.

There's no right or wrong answer here: Having a “perfect” smile means what's perfect for you, so it's very important for dentists and patients to communicate openly during the smile design process. But sometimes, words alone just aren't enough to convey the subtle dimensions of beauty.

The Trial Smile
Fortunately, it's now possible to preview your “perfect” smile using a number of different techniques. Advances in computer imaging make this the first step in previewing your new smile — you can see the changes before a single tooth is touched! Still, many people find that having a more concrete picture is helpful. The next step is to make a 3-D mock-up the proposed dental work on an actual model of your mouth. That way, you can see a physical representation of the final results — and even turn it around and hold it in your hands.

There's still one more way to really experience the difference cosmetic treatments can make without committing to a permanent change: the provisional restoration. Here, tooth-colored bonding material and other techniques are used to actually create the new smile — temporarily. This gives you time to “live with it,” and see if the proposed changes work for you. If everything goes well with the provisional work, the permanent restoration is guaranteed to please.

So if you want holiday treats, get out the cookie cutter — but if you're looking for a smile that's uniquely yours, and one that enhances your own individual appearance… call our office and ask about a smile design consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design” and “Beautiful Smiles by Design.”