Posted on: 14 April 2015
If you've recently chipped a tooth, you might be worried about a number of things. How will you afford the repairs, and what all will they entail? But modern dentistry has come a long way, and some of the fixes are a lot simpler than you think. Here are four of the more popular methods cosmetic dentists use to fix a chipped tooth and what you can expect from your treatment.
Enamel Shaping or Re-Contouring
If the chip is small and not very noticeable, your dentist may do a re-contouring. In this procedure, the same instrument that polishes your teeth is used to gently reshape the contour of the tooth. This might be the perfect solution for a chip with a jagged edge that rubs against the cheek or tongue, or to better match an adjoining tooth.
Dental re-contouring is usually quick and painless, and can be done for as little as $50 per tooth.
Dental bonding has several distinct advantages over other repairs. It typically costs less ($100-400 per tooth), is relatively easy to perform, and most patients don't feel a thing.
For most dental bonding procedures, the tooth needs to be prepared by creating small grooves to which the bonding material will adhere. Next, a thin layer of liquid is applied to prep the surface. The soft white resin is applied, molded to the perfect shape, and hardened with either a UV light or a laser. Final steps are smoothing, shaping, and polishing the surface to match the surrounding teeth. The entire process takes about 30 minutes to an hour per tooth. When properly cared for, a dental bonding can last up to ten years.
The main disadvantages of dental bonding is that the material can take up stains a little easier than crowns, and they tend to lack the strength you find in crowns and veneers. Your dentist will be able to tell you if a dental bonding procedure is your best route.
A veneer is a thin covering of porcelain or resin that is often used to repair a chipped front tooth. While you shouldn't feel a thing, many cosmetic dentists will give you a numbing agent just to be on the safe side.
During the procedure, the dentist will use an instrument to remove a thin layer of enamel and then take an impression of your tooth so that the veneer can be custom made in a laboratory. Once the veneer is ready, the dentist will prepare the surface of the tooth in much the same way it would be prepped for a dental bonding: by etching the surface for greater adhesiveness. The veneer is then attached to the tooth with a special type of cement and quickly hardened with a light.
Depending on what kind of veneer is placed, most patients can expect to pay anywhere from $250 for a composite resin veneer, up to $2,500 for a porcelain. There will be variations in cost with geographic location, and many dentists will allow you to make payments if your insurance doesn't cover the cost. Although the porcelain veneers are more expensive, they should last anywhere from 10-15 years.
A crown is very similar to a veneer in that it is a covering for your tooth. It can be porcelain, resin, metal, or ceramic. Which one you choose will depend on several variables. A porcelain or resin crown is less noticeable because the color blends in with your surrounding teeth, but it might not last as long as its metal counterpart. In general, most crowns that are well cared for should last anywhere from 5-15 years.
To prepare for your crown, your dentist will first numb the area then gently file the surface of the tooth in order to make room for the crown. An impression is then taken so that a permanent crown can be custom made. From there, a temporary crown is cemented in place until the permanent one arrives, usually several weeks later. A return visit is required for the placement of the permanent crown.
Crowns generally cost around $600-$1,500 per tooth. But as usual, you should check with your insurance about whether or not the procedure is at least partially covered.
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