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Millions of Americans suffer tooth loss, mostly due to tooth decay, gum disease, or injury. Dental implants -- replacement tooth roots which are made of titanium -- provide a strong foundation for the attachment of permanent or removable artificial teeth (crowns). Instead of individual crowns, some patients may have attachments on their implant that support a removable denture.
Bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin is applied and hardened with a special light, ultimately "bonding" the material to the tooth to improve a person's smile. Among the easiest and least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures, bonding can repair chipped or cracked teeth, close gaps or change the shape of teeth.
A crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that's placed over a weak or damaged tooth to improve its shape, size, strength, or appearance. Most crowns last five to 15 years and can be made of metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic. Before a crown is seated, the existing tooth is filed down; then the crown is cemented over it, fully encasing the tooth.
Veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells that cover the front surface of teeth. Bonded to the front of the teeth, changing their color, shape, size or length, veneers can be made from porcelain or resin composite. Veneers offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth's color or shape compared to crowns, but the process is not reversible.
A fixed (permanent) bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth either side of the gap, and attaching artificial teeth to them. The "bridge" is then cemented into place.
Gum reshaping can improve a "gummy" smile in which teeth appear too short, or where the gum line appears uneven. A small amount of gum tissue is removed and contoured to expose more of the teeth. This procedure can be done to one tooth to even the gum line, or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.