and onlays, please see the separate they are used to move upper teeth. A
BUPA factsheet, Restoring teeth. removable brace must be taken out to be
cleaned, but should be worn at all other
Orthodontic treatment times, including mealtimes and at night.
The way that our teeth bite together
Fixed braces (sometimes known as ‘train
Cosmetic dental treatments
is called the occlusion and people
who have crooked or crowded teeth tracks’) cannot be removed. They are
have a malocclusion. made of small brackets that are glued
to the teeth and joined together with a There are many cosmetic dental treatments you can
The branch of dentistry that specialises wire. Fixed braces can be used on upper have to enhance the appearance of your teeth. This
in aligning teeth is called orthodontics. and lower teeth. Once the treatment is factsheet describes some of the treatments that can be
Orthodontic treatment usually involves finished, the brackets and glue are used to align, lighten, reshape and restore teeth.
wearing an appliance (brace). This puts cleaned off the teeth.
gentle pressure on specific teeth to
move them into the right place. A relatively new type of orthodontic
treatment allows teeth to be
At the initial appointment, your
straightened using removable, About cosmetic dentistry Tooth-coloured fillings can now be used
orthodontist will do a very detailed
see-through, plastic aligners (Invisalign). Cosmetic dentistry uses a number of instead of amalgam (silver) fillings,
dental examination. If you have any
This treatment is only suitable for ways to enhance the appearance of making them a natural-looking
decayed teeth, these will need to be
certain cases. your teeth. Treatments are available to alternative. They are often used in teeth
treated by your family dentist before
make crooked teeth look straighter, to that show during smiling or talking.
orthodontic treatment starts. For more information, please see the
improve the appearance of teeth and to They are not as durable as amalgam,
Orthodontic treatment usually separate BUPA factsheet, Straightening
make discoloured teeth look whiter. and so they aren’t always suitable for
takes between six months and two crooked teeth.
the grinding and chewing surfaces of
years, depending on the severity of Cosmetic treatments tend to look
the back teeth.
the problem. Further information better and last longer if you have
The British Dental Health Foundation healthy teeth and gums. If you have Most people have a local anaesthetic
There are different kinds of appliances.
0845 063 1188 tooth decay or gum disease, this injection to completely numb the area
Some can be removed while others are
www.dentalhealth.org.uk should be treated before any cosmetic while the filling is being done.
fixed in place.
dentistry is started.
Removable braces are made of plastic The British Orthodontic Society The decayed and weakened parts of the
and usually have wire clips and springs 020 7837 2193 tooth are removed using small drills and
to move specific teeth. In most cases, www.bos.org.uk the hole is washed. The filling material is
Fillings are used to fill holes (cavities)
then packed in.
This factsheet is based on reputable sources of medical evidence and has been reviewed by BUPA doctors. For more that have formed, usually as a result of
details of references and sources, please see our website. The content is intended for general information only and
decay or tooth wear. There are many Tooth-coloured fillings must be kept
does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
types of filling, each suitable for completely dry until they have set, so
different cavities. the dentist will take special precautions
Published by BUPA’s health information team, firstname.lastname@example.org, June 2005
to keep saliva away from the area. This Home bleaching is similar to the OTC It’s important to bear in mind that being made, you may have a slightly
may include placing a sheet of rubber kit method, but with two main bleaching doesn’t always result in the roughened, sensitive tooth.
over the tooth (called a rubber dam). differences. Firstly, your dentist makes whiteness that you expected. The
On the second visit, the dentist cements
the rubber mouthguards so they fit results vary from person to person
For more information about fillings, the veneer onto the front of the tooth.
your teeth precisely. Secondly, the and depend on the shade of your
please see the separate BUPA factsheet,
bleaching gel is stronger so it tends to teeth before bleaching. The whitening Veneers can last for several years but
be more effective. Your dentist will effects of different bleaching methods they can be damaged just like normal
give you tubes of bleaching gel and can last for a few years, but this also teeth due to an accident, break or chip.
detailed instructions. varies from person to person. The edge of a veneer may be fragile, so
There are a number of different
you should try not to bite your nails or
bleaching methods available to lighten ‘Power’ or ‘laser’ bleaching is done in For more information on bleaching
tear sticky tape with your teeth.
the natural shade of your teeth. Some the surgery. Your dentist will put a methods, please see the separate BUPA
you can buy and use yourself, while rubber seal around your teeth to factsheet, Tooth whitening. Crowns, inlays and onlays
others require a visit to the dentist. protect your gums. Then, the
If a tooth has been broken, or
bleaching gel is painted onto your Veneers
Whitening toothpastes are slightly weakened by a lot of decay or a large
teeth and a special, bright light is If a front tooth is chipped, damaged or
abrasive, which may help to remove filling, a crown (or cap) can be fitted.
pointed at them. This light speeds up discoloured, a thin layer (veneer) of
surface staining. However, they do not Crowns are shaped like natural teeth.
the whitening process. ceramic material, eg porcelain, can be
alter the natural shade of your teeth. For teeth near the front of the mouth
Internal bleaching involves placing a made to fit over it, or tooth-coloured crowns are usually made of porcelain-
Over-the-counter (OTC) kits are sold in bleaching product inside the tooth. It composite material can be placed on like materials. Crowns on back teeth
most major chemists throughout the can only be done on teeth that have the tooth. In some cases, if you have may be made of porcelain or gold.
UK. In general, they contain rubber been successfully root-treated. This one or more teeth that are crooked,
mouthguards (moulds that are Inlays and onlays are similar to fillings.
means that the blood vessels and veneers of varying thicknesses can be
approximately the same shape as your However, like crowns, they are made in
nerves inside the tooth have been fitted to help them appear straighter.
teeth) and tubes of bleaching gel. a laboratory and then cemented to the
replaced with a rubber filling.
On the first visit, you may have a local tooth with special adhesive. The process
After squeezing some of the gel into
To bleach a tooth in this way, the anaesthetic injection to numb the of fitting crowns, inlays and onlays
the mouthguards, you place them
dentist will drill a hole and put the tooth, but this isn’t always necessary. requires two visits to the dentist.
over your teeth, usually for about 30
bleach into it. The hole will be sealed The surface of the tooth may be filed
minutes at a time. Inlays and onlays are very strong and, in
with a temporary filling, leaving the down slightly to allow for the small
some circumstances, may be more
The bleaching ingredient in the gel is bleach inside the tooth. You’ll have to added thickness of the veneer. The
durable than ordinary fillings. They are
called hydrogen peroxide. OTC kits go back to your dentist about a week dentist will also take a mould of the
suitable for the grinding surfaces of the
only contain weak hydrogen peroxide, later to have the temporary filling and tooth in a putty-like material. This is
back teeth and can be made out of
and tend not to be as effective as bleach taken out. If you’re satisfied sent to a laboratory where the veneer is
gold, porcelain or composite material.
stronger products that may be used with the new shade, your dentist will made. The laboratory work often takes
by your dentist. fill the hole with a tooth-coloured filling. a week or two so, while the veneer is For more information on crowns, inlays