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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry covers a wide array of procedures to enhance your smile. Cosmetic Dentistry can close gaps between your teeth, whiten stained teeth, resituate crowded teeth, fix your chipped tooth or teeth, make uneven teeth even, replace old fillings and even replace empty spaces caused by missing teeth or a missing tooth. In addition to improving your appearance, the results can transform self image, boost confidence and improve emotional well being. The effect on your life can be dramatic.
  • Discolored, Yellow, or Stained Teeth 
  • Missing Teeth
  • Crooked Teeth
  • Decaying Teeth & Cavities
  • Gaps & Spaces in Teeth
  • Dirty Teeth
2. Why get cosmetic dentistry?
According to a study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7% of all Americans believe a smile is an important social aspect. In fact, close to 75% of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person's chances for career success. Cosmetic dentistry can remedy:

3. Are you a good candidate for Cosmetic Dentistry?
The only person that can make that decision is you with the help of your dentist. Ask yourself: “Are you 100% happy with your smile?” If the answer is “No,” then you can make a change. It is easier than ever to enhance your smile!

4. What about my dental insurance? Will it cover this?
Unfortunately, most cosmetic dentistry is considered elective and not covered by insurance, even if the procedure is quite necessary to the patient. Our office is happy to check with your insurance company regarding benefits, but the procedure you need may or may not be covered depending on your plan. Please ask about payment plans and financing options through our practice. There is never any reason you should have to forego a procedure you feel is needed.

5. How natural will my teeth look? Will people notice I had this procedure done?
Every single case is unique and much depends on the type of procedure you are having done, but cosmetic dentists are specifically trained to achieve natural-looking results. Interestingly, one poll of patients showed that the top three questions/statements they hear after cosmetic dentistry are:
  1. Have you lost weight?
  2. You seem to be full of energy all of a sudden, have you been working out?
  3. Is that a new outfit?
As a result, a patient’s self confidence typically sky rockets, and they feel more outgoing and more social. They also show their new smile more, which helps them feel better and attract more positive attention from others. It really is incredible how much a new smile can change your life.

6. What is the difference between DDS and DMD, after the dentist’s name?
The acronyms stand for:
DDS - Doctor of Dental Surgery
DMD - Doctor of Dental Medicine
This designates the degree awarded to the dentist from the dental school upon graduation. There is no difference between the two, as both the DMD and DDS have the exact same education. Both degrees use the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation.

7. What is a crown?
Where damage to a person's teeth is extreme, and apparently beyond repair, a porcelain crown is used. A crown can provide structural support to misshapen or badly broken teeth, restore a healthy appearance to the teeth and remedy functional chewing problems. Many people have unexplained pain from filled back teeth, which is usually due to hairline cracks in the chewing part of the tooth. Placing crowns on these teeth relieves the pain and allows a return of full dental function for these teeth. In front teeth, older fillings can both weaken the teeth and cause "appearance" problems due to staining or chipping. Porcelain crowns and bridges are suitable in cases where porcelain veneers are not. In teeth with root canal fillings, crowns can prevent breakage. Crowns are a long-term solution that typically lasts up to 15 years.

8. How long does it take to receive a crown?
Fitting a crown requires at least two visits. The first visit is to remove decay, shape the tooth and fit it with a temporary crown made of an acrylic material. Temporaries should be as comfortable, natural and durable as possible so you can go about your normal routine during the restoration process. On the subsequent visit, we will remove the temporary crown, and then fit and adjust the final crown. Finally, we will cement the crown into place.

9. Why crowns instead of fillings?
This decision is based on the relative amount of strong, healthy tooth structure. After the old filling, decay and corrosion are cleaned out, if enough solid tooth is available then a filling can be used. However, if the remaining tooth is severely hollowed and "shell-like," it needs to be protected with a restoration that envelops the weakened tooth. This will help resist further cracking or fracture, which could then cause need for root canal, gum surgery or even tooth loss.

10. What is a bridge?
A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges), or they can be removable. Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments. If you're missing one or more teeth, fixed bridges can restore your dental health and appearance.

11. What exactly is a bridge or fixed partial denture?
A bridge (fixed partial denture) is a device, which fills the gap where teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges, as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability than their removable counterparts, and feel more natural.

12. Why do I need a bridge?
Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older. Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders. Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge. Missing teeth can cause speech disorders as they are used to make many of the sounds we use to speak clearly.

13. How is a bridge attached?
The attachment procedure usually takes several appointments to complete. At the first appointment your dentist will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by shaping a portion of the enamel and dentin.vSince the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed. Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.

14. What materials are used for a bridge?
Bridges are constructed from gold alloys, with bonded porcelain, or sometimes from bonded ceramic material.

15. How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.

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Shane R. McDowell, DMD, PA
7711 Cambridge Manor Place · Fort Myers, FL 33907
(239) 936-0597 • info@myfortmyersdentist.com
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