Smile for summer season

With summer finally moving into high gear, the desire to climb any mountain and eat every strawberry in the world is huge. Equally big is the urge to share stories along with your smile and to shine through the marathon of festivities. This is why a lovely and well-groomed smile is very important.

The team at CLINIC | DPC, Lithuania’s largest chain of dental clinics, is prepared to help you celebrate summer. We invited Aistė Bingelytė, one of the dentists at the clinic, to answer a few relevant questions about the importance of dental hygiene, aesthetic fillings and prostheses.

– Summer is moving into high gear, and the season for various gatherings and festivities is upon us. Naturally, people are socialising more often and they want to smile more… What is the first thing you would recommend to a patient whose greatest expectation is to have a lovely smile this summer?

– It all starts with cleanliness. That is why following an oral hygiene routine, cleaning your teeth twice per day with a brush and toothpaste, as well as flossing or using a special brush is essential. On top of this, you can use mouthwash. An oral irrigator is another excellent device when it comes to keeping your mouth clean. It generates a strong stream of water that can be used to remove plaque and food debris between the teeth and in other hard-to-reach places. It is also very important to see your dentist twice a year. The dentist will perform a health check on your teeth and will administer the necessary treatment. In the case of plaque, an oral hygienist is the best practitioner to visit. They will remove all the plaque and polish your teeth. If necessary, a teeth whitening procedure can be completed in a single visit. If the teeth are afflicted with decay and have old, discoloured fillings, a filling or a prosthetic procedure may be required. But with modern technologies, everything can be done in no time. Therefore, even if a large amount of work needs to be done, you can still have a lovely smile this summer.

– Your specialty is aesthetic fillings. Could you tell us more about an aesthetic filling, its purpose and its advantages?

– An aesthetic filling reconstructs the tooth’s appearance with filling materials. Usually, a filling is used to cover the entire front surface of the tooth. But with this type of filling procedure, the possibilities are virtually limitless: we can change the colour, shape or even the position of the tooth. Before applying the filling, we abrade the tooth to a minimal degree, or simply roughen the surface of the enamel depending on the type of damage and the location of the tooth. Protruding teeth that need ‘straightening’ will require extra abrasion. In such cases, we apply an adhesive onto the surface of the tooth and use various spatulas and brushes to coat the tooth with the filling. The final step is the polishing. This procedure is usually followed by a second appointment, when the final polishing and trimming is performed. After that, further polishing needs to be done once a year to maintain the good appearance of the filling for a long period of time. An aesthetic filling requires a lot of care and attention, and it is a time-consuming operation. It takes about one hour to fill one tooth, with the polishing included. The advantages of these types of filling procedures are that the teeth are typically restored in a single visit, and they cost less than prostheses. However, the downsides are that with time, the fillings lose their shine and discolouration as well as erosion may occur. An aesthetic filling is not an option if the tooth is heavily afflicted by decay and the remaining healthy walls are thin, or if the patient has very poor oral hygiene. Also, with very crooked teeth, the filling does not always help in making them straight – in this case, I would first recommend orthodontic treatment. Sometimes, patients want to have an aesthetic filling procedure even if their teeth are healthy and straight. However, you should bear in mind that a filling is still an intervention, and if the teeth are healthy and quite lovely to look at, a mere whitening procedure could suffice. In any case, the dentist will help choose the treatment that is right for you.

– I have heard a few things, but not a great deal, about tooth reconstruction with a laminate veneer. Could you tell us more about this? What is it, what material is the veneer made from, when is this procedure recommended, what are its advantages and counter-indications?

– Laminate veneers are super-thin ceramic plates, also known as micro-prosthetics, that are glued to the surface of the teeth with dental cement. In essence, they look like an aesthetic filling, only it is a ceramic veneer rather than a filling that covers the surface of the tooth. The veneer is usually made from lithium disilicate, which is both transparent and strong. Laminated teeth have a very natural look. The advantages of this treatment are that there is no discolouration, the teeth do not lose their shine, and the veneer is strong and settles on the surface of the tooth precisely. The downside is that it costs more. Teeth are usually reconstructed with a laminate veneer when the dental aesthetic procedure is not an option due to an abundance of old, discoloured fillings, darker and unshapely teeth or tooth gaps. The veneer will not be used with dead teeth or teeth heavily afflicted by decay, or when the remaining tooth walls are very thin – such cases will most likely require a dental crown prosthesis. We also cannot use laminate veneers to straighten the teeth when they are very crooked or twisted, because that would require a lot of abrasion. In these cases, the patient would be better off receiving an orthodontic treatment. Before applying the laminate veneers, the front surfaces of the teeth, and the surfaces between the teeth and on the palate side if necessary, are abraded to a minimal degree. Then, prints are taken and temporary plastic veneers are cemented in place. The dental technician laboratory makes the ceramic laminate veneers, and finally, the dentist removes the temporary veneers and cements the ceramic veneers onto the abraded teeth. Veneers do not require polishing or special care; however, you must subsequently follow a strict oral hygiene regimen and visit a hygienist once every six months to have a professional oral hygiene procedure performed.

– When would you recommend an aesthetic filling procedure, compared to a veneer prosthesis?

– An aesthetic filling is normally done in one visit, while the laminate veneer prosthesis could take two, three or even more visits. I would recommend going for a filling procedure when the teeth are still quite healthy, because such a procedure involves less tooth abrasion. Veneers are a better option when the teeth have already been damaged; for instance, when they already have many fillings. But if the patient wants a long-lasting solution, they can opt for laminate veneers in any of these cases.

What are the situations that call for a more elaborate dental prosthesis? What are the types of prosthetics, and what determines the choice of treatment?

– If the teeth are very damaged and have big fillings or are dead, they should be crowned to create a stronger result. Crowns are used when the teeth are dead, are heavily afflicted by decay, the remaining healthy walls are thin and there are large fillings present. Before applying a crown, the tooth is fully abraded on all sides; then, the crown is cemented on to reinforce the tooth completely. Missing teeth can be reconstructed with bridge prosthetics, removable prosthetics, or with implants – it often depends on how much money the patient is prepared to spend. I must mention however that when lateral teeth are missing, we do not recommend applying prosthetics or fillings to the front teeth alone, because they can break and erode due to the heavier load. The molars need to be reconstructed before any aesthetic work can be done in the front teeth area.

– People still say that a dental prosthesis is a very unpleasant and tiresome procedure. Can you put their minds at ease, and reassure your patients that the old treatment methods and materials used back in the day are already a thing of the past, and that now a prosthesis application is much more efficient and even comfortable?

– Modern dentistry has made huge progress and the procedures allow patients to feel a high degree of comfort. The tooth abrasion is usually preceded by anaesthesia, so the patient does not feel a thing. For more extensive work, we can even use sedation. This is the option that patients who are terrified of dental treatments should go for. With sedation, the patient simply sleeps throughout the procedure and feels nothing at all.

Clinic DPC uses exclusively scientifically tested technology and high-quality materials. The practitioners who work here offer each patient special care and attention. The practitioners at the clinic are also encouraged to pursue continuous professional development in their own fields. It is equally important that every specialist at Clinic DPC has the possibility to consult and learn from Simonas Bankauskas, the founder of the chain of clinics and an implantologist with over 10 years of experience. First and foremost, every visitor will feel the warm and attentive atmosphere that exists among our staff members. After all, a pleasant environment is the key to a successful treatment.