Here’s the scenario. You're hanging out with a group of friends and somebody cracks a joke, which leads to everyone rolling on the floor except you, covering your mouth as you laugh to conceal the train wreck that lurks within.
Sound familiar? Welcome to the incredible league of bad smiles, the ladies and gentlemen out there who are deathly embarrassed by the less than savoury condition of their pearly whites.
Good news. There’s light yet at the end of those molars! Thank God for the wonders of the modern world.
Dr. Jerry Lim is a firm believer in taking a holistic approach to aesthetic dentistry, focusing on not just functionality but the enhanced and balanced appearance of a patient's smile and face. He's also one of the official dentists for Miss Singapore Universe for the last 5 years running.
His expert tips, featured on Human Sessions, cover a range of aspects from smile makeovers, veneers and bonding to teeth whitening and gummy smiles. Rest assured that no matter what your dental issue is, a greater grin can loom just along the horizon.
When it comes to improving your smile, teeth whitening and veneers give you the most bang for your buck
A saavy reader with a limited budget queried Dr Jerry on how to get the most "bang for her buck" when it came to improving her smile.
His tips? Teeth whitening and veneers were the 2 cosmetic dentistry procedures that resulted in the greatest improvements in his patients' smiles.
Tired of prominent gaps? Seal the deal with dental bonding
If you’ve been blessed with an incredibly (ahem) prominent pair of gapped teeth, you’ve likely become accustomed to all that can come with it, including growing up as a kid with extremely low self-esteem issues.
Dr. Jerry explained to a reader that dental bonding can be the perfect solution for large gaps between teeth. This involves adhesively bonding a tooth-coloured composite to the side of the tooth and extending it to partially cover the gap while the other half comes from the other side of the adjacent tooth.
In Singapore, dental bonding can average in the $300 - $500 range per tooth and can be determined by various factors such as the number of teeth being treated, the size of the treatment area and additional treatments like changing the shape or colour of the teeth.
Chipped tooth? What’s your age again?
Dr. Jerry responded to a reader who was in his 20s when he decided to get his chipped tooth fixed after a fall. The conversation turned to whether conventional braces were necessary or if he should skip to veneers.
“As you are only in your 20s (I wish I was still in my 20s), my recommendation would be to go for a more conservative approach. The colour of your teeth at this age is usually brighter than when you are in your 40s.” said Dr. Jerry
According to him, aesthetic dental bonding or partial resin veneers are better alternatives. These treatments are final long-term restorations. They will look and blend in really well if done by an expert. On top of that, they are both conservative and cost-effective. All you need is a re-polishing a couple of years later. Just watch what you sink your teeth into!
Straighten your crooked teeth the right way
Looking to straighten your teeth with porcelain veneers or crowns? It is possible, however, the doctor warns there might be a risk of nerve injury.
Dr. Jerry broke down the process for a concerned reader who was looking to straighten his teeth. Crooked teeth generally mean that your teeth are not aligned and it would need to be brought into a well-aligned arch. Teeth that are protruding will have to be trimmed sufficiently to make them go in line into the arch. Our teeth have a range of 1.5 - 3.5 mm of enamel and dentine thickness.
Bringing the tooth in line by 2.5mm (which is normal when moving crooked teeth) means that you would have to trim away almost 3-3.5mm of tooth structure. Sometimes, this will encroach into the nerve of the tooth making root canal treatment necessary!
Personally, Dr. Jerry would choose to straighten his teeth first, then place thin veneers over later. He doesn’t suggest trimming too much of the teeth to place veneers for straightening as that could risk nerve injury.
If braces put you off, you may consider one of the newest treatment methods in teeth straightening; Clear Aligner Therapy. There are several brands available now in Singapore and this way, you won’t have to settle with metal braces that make you the ‘Ugly Betty’ of the office.
Sure, veneers can straighten teeth, as long as they aren't too crooked
Yup, you can get veneers if your teeth are not straight. However, the doctor stresses that it depends on the severity of your misalignment.
If your misalignment is mild and the veneers are resting mainly on the first layer of your teeth (the enamel) then they will be strong and there’ll be sufficient strength to withstand the stress of chewing.
Beyond a certain level of misalignment, however, it would be prudent to actually align the teeth first and then place veneers on them later. It may be costly now but certainly less so than the biological cost you could end up paying should you decide to trim a lot of the teeth structure away for veneers.
Make sure those veneers are in there nice and tight
Dr. Jerry has witnessed first-hand how a few of his patients had to go through the nightmare-inducing ordeal of having their teeth fall out! Unless you’ve always fancied being an extra on ‘The Walking Dead’, it's actually quite distressing when your veneers crack and Dr.op off.
First of all, make sure the veneers are well bonded onto the teeth. This is a very technical aspect of the treatment and it needs to be done well.
After the veneers are well bonded onto teeth, their ability to withstand the mighty forces of chewing is actually pretty high. The day to day function of your teeth doing their thing shouldn’t pose too many problems but night grinding and clenching can break the veneers. If you grind your teeth at night, keep that night guard in an easy to reach spot on the nightstand.
Porcelain veneers do not stain easily unless there are micro cracks or rough portions. Therefore, the doctor discourages the use of abrasive toothpaste (for people who smoke) as they contain many rough particles.
Last but not least, use special polishing paste on porcelain veneers
In parting, we’ll leave you with another important point from Dr. Jerry. When you go for scaling and polishing with dentists, ensure they use special polishing paste designed to polish porcelain veneers (such as Proxyt, for example).
Normal polishing paste may contain some mild abrasives. Check with your dentist about what they use and don’t be shy. They (probably) don’t bite but if you ignore this issue you could have more than a mere bite to worry about.
Dr Jerry Lim is a firm believer in taking a holistic approach to aesthetic dentistry, focusing on not only restoring the functional capabilities of the patient, but going one step further to enhance and balance the appearance of the patient’s smile and face. He is currently adjunct lecturer at his alma mater National University of Singapore, and was past President of the College of General Dental Practitioners Singapore.
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