Our Dental Blog

Posts for: December, 2017

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
December 16, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: chipped teeth  

You’ve suddenly noticed one of your teeth looks and feels uneven, and it may even appear chipped. To make matters worse it’s right in front in the “smile zone” — when you smile, everyone else will notice it too. You want to have it repaired.

So, what will it be — a porcelain veneer or crown? Maybe neither: after examining it, your dentist may recommend another option you might even be able to undergo that very day — and walk out with a restored tooth.

This technique uses dental materials called composite resins.  These are blends of materials that can mimic the color and texture of tooth structure while also possessing the necessary strength to endure forces generated by biting and chewing. A good part of that strength comes from the way we’re able to bond the material to both the tooth’s outer enamel and underlying dentin, which together make up the main body of tooth structure. In skilled, artistic hands composite resins can be used effectively in a number of situations to restore a tooth to normal appearance.

While veneers or crowns also produce excellent results in this regard, they require a fair amount of tooth alteration to accommodate them. Your dentist will also need an outside dental laboratory to fabricate them, a procedure that could take several weeks. In contrast, a composite resin restoration usually requires much less tooth preparation and can be performed in the dental office in just one visit.

Composite resins won’t work in every situation — the better approach could in fact be a veneer or crown. But for slight chips or other minor defects, composite resin could transform your tooth’s appearance dramatically.

To see if composite resin is a viable restoration option for your tooth, visit your dentist for a complete dental examination. It’s quite possible you’ll leave with a more attractive tooth and a more confident smile.

If you would like more information on restorations using composite resins, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Artistic Repair of Front Teeth with Composite Resin.”

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
December 11, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

You know your tooth should feel and look better, too. Maybe it's chipped or it has undergone a root canal procedure. Why not ask your dental crownsdentist, Dr. Carol Cunningham, at Gentle Art of Dentistry for help? Trust her years of experience in premiere restorative dentistry. She may offer you a great option to restore your tooth--a dental crown.

Give your tooth a second chance

Plenty of life's situations compromise the health of a tooth--trauma from a fall, deep decay, infection and even congenital defect. Your first impulse may be to pull the tooth and replace it. However, Dr. Cunningham and her professional colleagues would rather spare the tooth to avoid smile gaps that affect oral function and personal appearance.

Visual inspection, X-rays and expertise tell your dentist if a tooth can be crowned. What's a dental crown? it's a tooth-shaped restoration that covers remaining healthy tooth structure. Made according to oral impressions, a crown can protect and strengthen a failing tooth, preserving it for years.

The crown procedure

It's simple and comfortable. Dr. Cunningham uses local anesthetic to make the area around the tooth numb. She then prepares and shapes the remaining structure to accept the crown and also takes oral impressions. Oral impressions help the dental lab accurately craft the crown.

Patients wear a temporary cap while they wait for the permanent restoration to return from the lab. When it's ready, Dr. Cunningham removes the temporary cap and bonds on the new crown. Most crowns are so accurately crafted that they match in color, fit and bite right away with little to no adjustment.

The lifespan of a crown

Dental crowns made of porcelain or porcelain fused to metal in Decatur last about a decade or more. Dr. Cunningham asks her patients to floss around their restorations daily and also to brush twice a day according to guidelines set by the American Dental Association.

She also asks patients to come to Gentle Art of Dentisry twice yearly for cleanings and check-ups. Being gentle with a crown helps it last, too. For example, wear a bite guard if you grind your teeth, and avoid chewing extra-hard foods such as peanut brittle, taffy and ice cubes.

A final word...

Crowns have been around since the early twentieth century. Their application has widened over the years to include restoration of dental implants and supporting fixed bridgework. Some crowns even may be crafted in one dental visit.

So if you'd like to keep that worrisome tooth, look into a dental crown from Decatur, IL dentist, Dr. Carol Cunningham. Call the office today for your convenient appointment: (217) 422-7448.


Everyone loves a concert where there's plenty of audience participation… until it starts to get out of hand. Recently, the platinum-selling band Fifth Harmony was playing to a packed house in Atlanta when things went awry for vocalist Camila Cabello. Fans were batting around a big plastic ball, and one unfortunate swing sent the ball hurtling toward the stage — and directly into Cabello's face. Pushing the microphone into her mouth, it left the “Worth It” singer with a chipped front tooth.

Ouch! Cabello finished the show nevertheless, and didn't seem too upset. “Atlanta… u wild… love u,” she tweeted later that night. “Gotta get it fixed now tho lol.” Fortunately, dentistry offers a number of ways to make that chipped tooth look as good as new.

A small chip at the edge of the tooth can sometimes be polished with dental instruments to remove the sharp edges. If it's a little bigger, a procedure called dental bonding may be recommended. Here, the missing part is filled in with a mixture of plastic resin and glass fillers, which are then cured (hardened) with a special light. The tooth-colored bonding material provides a tough, lifelike restoration that's hard to tell apart from your natural teeth. While bonding can be performed in just one office visit, the material can stain over time and may eventually need to be replaced.

Porcelain veneers are a more long-lasting solution. These wafer-thin coverings go over the entire front surface of the tooth, and can resolve a number of defects — including chips, discoloration, and even minor size or spacing irregularities. You can get a single veneer or have your whole smile redone, in shades ranging from a pearly luster to an ultra-bright white; that's why veneers are a favorite of Hollywood stars. Getting veneers is a procedure that takes several office visits, but the beautiful results can last for many years.

If a chip or crack extends into the inner part of a tooth, you'll probably need a crown (or cap) to restore the tooth's function and appearance. As long as the roots are healthy, the entire part of the tooth above the gum line can be replaced with a natural-looking restoration. You may also need a root canal to remove the damaged pulp material and prevent infection if the fracture went too far. While small chips or cracks aren't usually an emergency (unless accompanied by pain), damage to the tooth's pulp requires prompt attention.

If you have questions about smile restoration, please contact us and schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Veneers: Strength & Beauty As Never Before” and “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”