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Cosmetic Dentistry

In the past decade, there has been a dramatic interest in cosmetic dentistry. We all realize that having a healthy, bright, beautiful smile enhances our appearance and allows us to smile with confidence. Thanks to the advances in modern cosmetic dentistry, we are able to improve our teeth and smiles with quick, painless and surprisingly affordable treatments.

Cosmetic dental treatments can:

• Change the size, shape, and alignment of certain teeth.
• Fill in unattractive spaces between teeth.
• Improve or correct bites.
• Lighten or brighten the color of teeth.
• Repair decayed, broken, cracked, or chipped teeth.
• Replace missing teeth.
• Replace old, unattractive dental treatments.

Remember, your smile speaks before you even say a word!

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Chairside Economical Restorations of Esthetic Ceramic (CEREC®) has revolutionized dental procedures. Traditionally, if crowns, onlays, inlays or dental veneers were required to restore damaged teeth, multiple procedures and a great deal of waiting time in-between would be inevitable. CEREC® creates these ceramic restorations within minutes in the dental office. This means that many treatments can be completed in just a single visit.

CEREC® is comprised of several computer-assisted design (CAD) tools and a milling machine that creates custom ceramic restorative devices. CEREC® can make almost any ceramic restoration to order, meaning the dentist can place it immediately. This is of great benefit to nervous patients, and it can also reduce the cost of treatment.

How can CEREC® benefit me?

CEREC® can benefit almost anyone needing a ceramic restoration device. Exceptions include patients who have a prior history of breaking ceramic devices and those with a deep bite. CEREC® devices are proven to last for over 5 years, but recent research indicates that most CEREC®-created restorations last for more than 10 years.

Here are some other advantages associated with CEREC®:

• No temporary restorations.
• High-quality ceramic products.
• Minimal invasiveness.
• Less injections and discomfort.
• Fewer dental visits.
• Cost effectiveness.
• More natural tooth is saved.
• Long lasting restorations.
• Biocompatible solutions.

What is the CEREC® system comprised of?

The CEREC® System is sometimes called a CAD-CAM system. CAD-CAM means Computer Assisted Design and Computer Assisted Milling. The CEREC® system has three major components:

Acquisition device: This device is home to a high-quality camera and a medical grade computer. The function of this unit is to photograph the prepared tooth. Three-dimensional images are created of the tooth on the screen, which the dentist uses to design the perfect ceramic restoration.

Three-dimensional CAD software: This software allows the dentist to examine the tooth from every angle. It is the closest possible thing to holding the tooth in the hands and rotating it.

Milling device: This unit actually manufactures the custom restoration from the specifications entered into the computer. A ceramic block, which best resembles the existing tooth color is chosen and placed into the unit. Within minutes, the milling device produces the restoration the dentist designed. No horrible-tasting impressions or time-consuming transfers to and from the laboratory are required.

What does a CEREC® restoration procedure involve?

The first step in the procedure is to prepare the tooth. The dentist removes all tooth decay and creates a divergent occlusal axial wall, to make the opening of the tooth wider than the base. Next, an impression is made using a covering of titanium dust. This dust allows the camera to take a highly detailed picture of the tooth. Images are formulated with the CEREC® camera. CEREC® optical imaging utilizes an infrared wavelength.

The image is transposed onto the computer screen. It is here that the dentist is able to view the tooth from every angle and design the final restoration. When the design is complete, it is transmitted to the milling unit. The dentist chooses a block of ceramic that matches the color of the teeth. This ensures that the restoration will be almost invisible.

Within 15 minutes, the full crown, onlay, overlay or veneer is complete. The restoration is made of compressed, rather than laboratory-layered porcelain. This enhances strength and durability.

Before affixing the restoration to the tooth, the dentist will place it dry to ensure it fits perfectly. It is then polished and affixed to the tooth with dental cement. The procedure is now complete, and all without the need for a second visit! The quality of the results is the same as the laboratory-generated restoration, but a great deal of time and money has been saved.

A composite (tooth colored) filling is used to repair a tooth that is affected by decay, cracks, fractures, etc. The decayed or affected portion of the tooth will be removed and then filled with a composite filling.

There are many types of filling materials available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. You and your dentist can discuss the best options for restoring your teeth. Composite fillings, along with silver amalgam fillings, are the most widely used today. Because composite fillings are tooth colored, they can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth, and are more aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or the more visible areas of the teeth.

As with most dental restorations, composite fillings are not permanent and may someday have to be replaced. They are very durable, and will last many years, giving you a long lasting, beautiful smile.

Reasons for composite fillings:

• Chipped teeth.
• Closing space between two teeth.
• Cracked or broken teeth.
• Decayed teeth.
• Worn teeth.

How are composite fillings placed?

Composite fillings are usually placed in one appointment. While the tooth is numb, your dentist will remove decay as necessary. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared before the new filling is placed. If the decay was near the nerve of the tooth, a special medication will be applied for added protection. The composite filling will then be precisely placed, shaped, and polished, restoring your tooth to its original shape and function.
It is normal to experience sensitivity to hot and cold when composite fillings are first placed, however this will subside shortly after your tooth acclimates to the new filling.

You will be given care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new fillings.

Today, a wonderful pearly-white smile is important for a wide variety of reasons. Beautiful teeth can boost self-esteem and self-confidence, and a stunning smile is often the most recognized feature of a person. daVinciTM dental veneers have been renowned for excellence and durability in the field of cosmetic dentistry for the past 25 years. These ceramic veneers can cover even the most unsightly blemishes on the teeth, and treatment can be completed in two or three visits.

Who is a good candidate for daVinci™ veneers?

daVinciTM veneers are ideal for the nervous patient because they need little or no anesthesia to appl. They’re also highly resistant to staining agents like tobacco, coffee and red wine. daVinciTM veneers look completely natural, feel fantastic and can instantly cover the most severe cosmetic defects.

daVinciTM veneers are wafer-thin, which means that the eating, speaking and biting functions are seldom affected by their placement. daVinciTM veneers are available in four different shades, ranging from “bright” to “incredibly bright” and can only be applied to healthy underlying teeth and gums. If the dentist notes tooth decay or gum disease, these issues need to be addressed before the placement of dental veneers.

Here are some of the main advantages associated with daVinciTM veneers:

• High resistance to staining agents.
• Incredibly strong bonding agent.
• Little or no anesthesia required.
• Quick, natural looking results.
• Transforms even the most disfiguring defects.
• Unsurpassed whiteness.
• Wafer thin veneers.

What is the procedure for placing daVinciTM veneers?

The dentist will plan on three visits, though treatment may be completed in two. The first visit involves a thorough investigation of the teeth and the planning of forthcoming treatments. The planning stage is an ideal opportunity to ask questions. Objectives and potential end results will be discussed, and the dentist will ensure that teeth are healthy enough for veneer placement.

The second visit may last several hours. The teeth need to be prepared before the daVinci veneers are placed. Preparation generally involves the light buffing of the teeth to create space for veneer placement. Since daVinciTM veneers are wafer-thin, little of the tooth needs to be altered.

When the teeth are fully prepared, impressions are created. These impressions or molds are then sent to a daVinci laboratory. It generally takes around two weeks for the custom-made daVinciTM veneers to be fabricated. In the meantime, a temporary measure is placed to ensure the teeth look pleasant and are fully functional.

During the final visit, the daVinciTM veneers are bonded to the teeth. Before bonding permanently, the dentist temporarily places the veneers on the teeth with glycerin. This helps to determine whether the shade and fit are agreeable. If the shade requires alteration, this can be adjusted using colored dental cement.

daVinciTM veneers are permanently placed with specialized dental cleansers and bonded using a visible light beam. The light beam hardens the cement and ensures that an ultra-secure affixation occurs. Once the veneers are placed with cement, the color can no longer be altered.

daVinciTM veneers produce a stunning result that transforms the smile with minimal discomfort.

Dental veneers, crowns, onlays, inlays and bridges are important restorations which enhance the health and functionality of the natural teeth. A sparkling smile can be an enormous confidence-booster and have a dramatic effect on a person’s appearance. Empress® has been dedicated to creating natural-looking restorations for almost two decades, and is one of the world leaders in dental ceramics.

Empress® veneers, crowns, onlays, overlays and dental bridges are renowned for their strength, durability and exceptional optical properties. Empress® restorations are completely metal-free, and are constructed from inorganic material which is baked and cured at high temperatures.

Why should I choose Empress® restorations?

Empress® is continually refining and enhancing restorations to ensure that they look natural and restore complete functionality to the teeth.

Traditional ceramic restorations were known for being brittle and expensive to repair after sustaining damage. However, Empress® has developed a heat-pressed glass ceramic that is immensely strong and durable. There are several reasons for this, including the high shrinkage of leucite crystals. This shrinkage means that compressive stress is created during the vitreous stage, thus preventing breakage and cracking.

The unique veneer glaze and stain also increases strength by as much as 50%. These elements combined establish a thicker restoration that is fracture resistant. Empress® crowns have a 100% chance of surviving the first three years. This means less dental visits, less expense and a sensational, comfortable smile.

Here are some of the advantages associated with Empress® restorations:

• Biocompatible.
• Do not affect other dentition.
• Ease of application.
• Excellent polishing properties.
• Many levels of translucency available.
• Metal-free.
• Natural-looking.
• Shades match the other teeth.

What restorations can be done using Empress® products?

Empress® has created many natural-looking restorations, including:

Empress® Veneers – These veneers are wafer-thin porcelain and ceramic covers which fit permanently over natural teeth. Empress® veneers are perfect for covering disfigured and stained teeth. They are stain and bacteria-resistant, strong, and can be manufactured to match the natural tooth shade.

Empress® Crowns – These crowns are generally placed after root canal therapy, or after the removal of tooth decay. Empress® crowns are proven to last longer than many types of crowns, and again, can be matched exactly to the natural tooth shade. There is no visible ugly metal edge, just a sensational end result.

Empress® Inlays/Onlays – Inlays and onlays are currently being used to replace the traditional amalgam fillings. Amalgam is unpleasant to view and unhealthy for the body. Empress® ceramic inlays and overlays are strong, healthy and usually invisible to onlookers.

Empress® Bridges – As with all Empress® products, Empress® bridges are a completely natural-looking way to replace missing teeth. Metal bridges are often highly visible and make the teeth look shorter. Empress® bridges are almost impossible to spot, and restore symmetry and sparkle to the smile.

For patients whose teeth have changed in size or shape due to trauma or decay, Sandia Dental Care offers dental crowns. Also known as caps, dental crowns are custom-fit to cover the entire biting surface and sides of the tooth. Made from a number of durable materials, crowns protect your tooth and restore biting and chewing function.

The Advantages of Porcelain Crowns

Porcelain is one of the more common materials Dr. Sarah Kassam recommends for crowns. Porcelain crowns are tooth-colored and shaped to effectively match your smile. These sturdy and natural-looking restorations are capable of providing years of service. As with most dental restorations, regular follow-up visits and occasional replacements are essential in maintaining attractive, long-lasting results.

Why Would You Need a Crown?

There are many situations where the placement of a dental crown is necessary and beneficial. To achieve optimal results, underlying oral health concerns, such as gum disease and poor oral hygiene habits, should be treated first. Once these are managed, Dr. Sarah Kassam recommends crown placement for the following issues:

• Broken or fractured teeth
• Dental decay
• Teeth that have received root canal treatment
• Replacement of large or damaged fillings
• Enhancement of dental aesthetics

What is the Process for Getting a Crown?

At Sandia Dental Care, we meet our patients’ needs by first taking impressions of the targeted tooth. This allows us to create a custom crown. As it may take up to two weeks to fabricate permanent dental crowns, impressions are used for a temporary crown. This provides a seamless transition, ensuring patients not without a smile for long.

Before placing a crown, Dr. Sarah Kassam prepares the tooth by removing decay and shaping the surface of enamel so the restoration fits properly. This is done while the tooth is numb, after which the crown will be placed and secured with dental cement. Prior to placing the custom crown, the temporary restoration is removed and the area is thoroughly cleaned. Dr. Sarah Kassam also assesses whether your bite is properly balanced after placement.

We provide you with after-care instructions and encourage you to follow up at our Albuquerque office regularly.

Patients with multiple teeth missing can enjoy health and aesthetic benefits with a fixed dental bridge. At Sandia Dental Care, we recommend this non-removable appliance to our patients as a sturdy and long-lasting teeth replacement option.

Why Get a Fixed Bridge?

Missing or severely damaged teeth deprive patients of a healthy smile. Without treatment, aesthetic and health effects of damaged or missing teeth only worsen over time. To bolster the look of a complete set of teeth, Dr. Sarah Kassam may recommend a fixed bridge.

Beyond addressing the appearance of your smile, a fixed bridge can also improve dental function and wellbeing. Dental bridges prevent healthy teeth from shifting out of position, which can cause bite problems. After receiving a fixed bridge, patients may notice a significant improvement in their ability to speak and chew.

For patients with removable dental appliances, such as partial dentures, our Albuquerque practice recommends fixed bridges as a secure option.

Traditional Fixed Bridges

Dr. Sarah Kassam works with each patient on an individual basis, recommending a variety of dental bridge options that address their unique needs.

Among the most common options are traditional bridges. These bridges work with existing, healthy teeth and are of materials that promote natural aesthetic and strength. Crowns are placed over neighboring teeth, which are then used as anchors for the artificial teeth.

Your dental bridge can give you years of service, especially when you follow routine check-up visits to keep an eye on oral health and wear and tear on restorations.

Receiving a Fixed Bridge

The abutment teeth used to anchor the bridge are prepared for a proper and secure fit. Impressions, or molds, are taken to fabricate a bridge that accurately imitates natural teeth. To ensure you are not left with an incomplete smile prior to receiving your permanent bridge, you will have a temporary bridge to wear.

Prior cementing it in place, Dr. Sarah Kassam assesses your custom-designed permanent bridge, making any adjustments for a stable and balanced fit. Dependent individual needs, the bridge may be bonded with temporary cement to allow adjustment to the new appliance. At a future appointment, the fixed bridge is cemented permanently.

After the procedure, you will receive care instructions, including advice on proper brushing and flossing routines.

An inlay restoration is a custom made filling made of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain. Porcelain inlays are popular because they resemble your natural tooth. A porcelain inlay is made by a professional dental laboratory and is permanently cemented into the tooth by your dentist.

Inlays can be utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma. Inlays are an ideal alternative to conventional silver and composite fillings. Also, they are more conservative than crowns because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of inlays.

As with most dental restorations, inlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement. They are highly durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.

Reasons for inlay restorations:

• Broken or fractured teeth.
• Cosmetic enhancement.
• Decayed teeth.
• Fractured fillings.
• Large fillings.

What does getting an inlay involve?

An inlay procedure usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate impressions (molds) that will be used to create your custom inlay and a temporary restoration.

While the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling materials. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an inlay restoration. A temporary filling will be applied to protect the tooth while your inlay is made by a dental laboratory.

At your second appointment your new inlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place. A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and that your bite is comfortable.

You will receive care instruction at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new inlay.

An onlay restoration is a custom made filling made of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain. Porcelain onlays are popular because they resemble your natural tooth. An onlay is sometimes also referred to as a partial crown. Porcelain onlays are made by a professional dental laboratory and is permanently cemented onto the tooth by your dentist.

Onlays can be utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma. Onlays are an ideal alternative to crowns (caps) because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of onlays. Onlays are essentially identical to inlays with the exception that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and need to be included in the restoration.

As with most dental restorations, onlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement. They are highly durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.

Reasons for onlay restorations:

• Broken or fractured teeth.
• Cosmetic enhancement.
• Decayed teeth.
• Fractured fillings.
• Large fillings.

What does getting an onlay involve?

An onlay procedure usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate impressions (molds) that will be used to create your custom onlay and a temporary restoration.

While the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling materials. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an onlay restoration. A temporary filling will be applied to protect the tooth while your onlay is made by a dental laboratory.

At your second appointment, your new onlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place. A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and that your bite is comfortable.

You will receive care instruction at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new onlay.

Veneers are very thin pieces of durable, tooth shaped porcelain that are custom made (for shape and color) by a professional dental laboratory. They are bonded onto the front of teeth to create a beautiful and attractive smile.

Veneers can completely reshape your teeth and smile. They can often be alternatives to crowns and the ideal solution in treating many dental conditions.

As with most dental restorations, veneers are not permanent and may someday need replacement. They are very durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.

Reasons for porcelain veneers:

• Cosmetically, to create a uniform, white, beautiful smile.
• Crooked teeth.
• Misshapen teeth.
• Severely discolored or stained teeth.
• Teeth that are too small or large.
• Unwanted or uneven spaces.
• Worn or chipped teeth.


What does getting porcelain veneers involve?

Getting veneers usually requires two visits to complete the process, with little or no anesthesia required during the procedure. The teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the surface to allow for the thickness of the veneer. A mold or impression of the teeth is taken and a shade (color) will then be chosen by you and the dentist.

On the second visit the teeth will be cleansed with special liquids to achieve a durable bond. Bonding cement is then placed between the tooth and veneer and a special light beam is used to harden and set the bond.

You will receive care instructions for veneers. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new veneers.

For a non-invasive treatment that can add shades of brilliance to your smile, Sandia Dental Care offers professional teeth whitening. Whether seeking to regain natural coloration or augment the tone of their dentition, Albuquerque dentist, Sarah Kassam, DDS offers teeth whitening tailored to help patients reach their aesthetic goals.

Who Benefits from Teeth Whitening?

Professional teeth whitening can serve most patients seeking a more natural sheen to their smile without altering the structure of teeth. There are a number of situations where dental staining can be addressed particularly well by teeth whitening. This includes discoloration due to excessive fluoride exposure or use of medications known to have a cosmetic impact on teeth. Patients whose teeth appear yellowed due to the normal wear of the outer layers can see improvement after whitening. Additionally, teeth whitening may minimize the stains that result from drinking coffee, tea, or wine as well as from smoking.

While effective, teeth whitening is not a permanent solution. To keep your teeth bright, Dr. Sarah Kassam will work with you to provide regular maintenance. It is also important to note that teeth whitening will not change the color of restorations such as fillings or crowns. Dr. Sarah Kassam may recommend replacing these to give a more consistent, natural appearance to your smile.

What Does Teeth Whitening Involve?

Our goal is to create the look of a naturally white smile. One of the more popular options offered by Sandia Dental Care are take-home systems, personalized treatments that produce noticeable results. A key to the success of any teeth whitening system is the professional grade whitening agents used. To take full advantage of this powerful, yet non-abrasive solution, patients are provided with custom-fit whitening trays that securely hold the whitening agent against their teeth.

Starting with your first visit, Dr. Sarah Kassam will take impressions of your teeth in order to manufacture customized whitening trays that enable precise whitening solution application. Once the custom trays have been created, patients will return to our Albuquerque practice for the treatment. After this hour-long treatment, patients go home with a noticeably whiter smile.

Whether as a supplement to the in-office service or as the sole recommendation, Dr. Sarah Kassam will provide you with proper care instructions for safe and effective at-home whitening. We also encourage regular follow-up visits at our Albuquerque office to monitor progress as well as to assist with any issues that arise during treatment.

The amount of time you will wear your tray at home depends on the degree of discoloration and your unique smile goals. This ranges from twice daily wear for 30 minutes to wearing the trays overnight for a period of a few weeks. Some sensitivity is normal after whitening and should subside gradually afterward. Contact Sandia Dental Care immediately if the sensation does not diminish over time.

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