August 15, 2018

Planning Your Smile Makeover

If you are embarrassed to show your teeth when you smile, it may be time to consider a smile makeover. Today’s cosmetic dentistry techniques, materials, and technology can address virtually any flaw that is compromising the look of your smile – including cracked teeth, stained teeth, uneven teeth, broken teeth, and gaps between teeth.

Our experienced Orange County cosmetic dentist Dr. Huefner has been helping patients throughout the Laguna Niguel area transform their smiles for decades. When planning your smile makeover, we will consider several different factors, including:

  • The specific cosmetic dental problems you want to correct
  • Your own goals for your smile
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your budget

There are usually many different ways to fix a certain smile flaw, which gives you flexibility when choosing the treatments and procedures you want to include with your smile. In some cases, only a single treatment (such as porcelain veneers) may be necessary for a full smile makeover. Other patients may need a combination of treatments – such as teeth whitening, dental crowns, and porcelain veneers – in order to achieve the results they are looking for.

Dr. Huefner will examine your teeth and make a personalized recommendation based on the factors discussed above. The most effective options will be presented to you through our advanced patient education software. If porcelain veneers will be part of your smile makeover, Dr. Huefner can fit you with a “trial smile” of temporary restorations so you can test out your new smile design before we make it permanent.

If you are ready to discuss your smile makeover options in more depth with an experienced Orange County cosmetic dentist, please contact Huefner Sensational Smiles today or call (949) 495-6322 to schedule an appointment. We serve patients in Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, and surrounding areas of Orange County, California.

Orange County Dental Implants

Laguna Niguel dental implant

Top photo: Hopeless tooth removed and implant inserted into the space where the root was. Middle photo: After eight weeks of healing the dental implant was ready to accept the zirconia abutment. Bottom photo: An all ceramic crown (no metal) was cemented over the zirconia abutment. The implant crown matched the adjacent teeth in color, but actually looked better!

I  get a lot of requests for information on Orange County dental implants.  How much are dental implants?  How long does it take for the whole process of the dental implant?  What are the steps in making a dental implant?  Will my insurance pay for dental implants?  Renee is a patient I treated who came in with her upper right lateral incisor broken off.  I treated her with a dental implant to replace the broken off tooth.  Let’s go through the steps and answer some of the common questions.

Renee’s right lateral broken off.  She was devastated!  It was a front tooth and she couldn’t go around “looking like a hillbilly”.  After we assured her that we would make her a tooth replacement that she would have the next day, she relaxed a bit.  I explained that she had several choices to replace her missing tooth:

  • A fixed (permanent) porcelain bridge, which would mean placing new porcelain caps on the teeth on either side of the broken off tooth and a replacement tooth would be joined to those two new porcelain caps
  • A dental implant, which would mean we would just put a permanent crown into the space of the broken off tooth
  • A removable partial denture or a dental “flipper”, both which because they are “removable”, can be taken in and out

After hearing her choices Renee wanted to know more about Orange County dental implants and solutions to her problem.  I told her that I would take an impression to make her a removable temporary tooth replacement, called a flipper.  I would have that ready the next day.  Then the broken off tooth would be removed and an implant placed into the space where the root had been.  It would take about 8-10 weeks for the dental implant to completely heal and join with her jaw bone.  In the meantime, she would be wearing the flipper, so at no time would she be without a front tooth.

After the Orange County dental implant had completely healed I would attach a tooth colored zirconia abutment into the dental implant.  The dental implant is completely below the gums, but the abutment is above the gums and it is the abutment which would then allow me to then place a crown on top of it.   Thus there are three parts to an implant itself, the dental implant that goes into her jaw, the abutment that goes into the dental implant, and the crown that goes over the abutment.  I assured Renee that her new implant tooth would match her other teeth in color.

Her Orange County dental implants treatment went just as I described and was without any complications.  We started by taking a dental impression for Renee’s temporary replacement tooth, the flipper.  Her broken off tooth was removed and a dental implant placed into the space in her gums where her root was.  During the next two months she wore the dental flipper.  Then she returned and I placed the zirconia tooth colored abutment into the dental implant, took an impression of the abutment and then placed a temporary crown on top of the abutment.  From that point on Renee didn’t need to wear her temporary flipper any more.  Two weeks later Renee returned again, the temporary crown was removed and the new permanent all porcelain crown was cemented on top of the zirconia tooth colored abutment.  That completed her dental implant treatment!

To answer the question on how much Orange County dental implants cost?  That depends a number of factors and variables.  Does the tooth have to be extracted, or has that already been done?  Is there enough bone and/or gums to immediately place a dental implant, or do additional procedure(s) have to be done to correct the deficiencies?  Is the tooth in the front of the mouth or in the back?  That might determine whether a custom tooth colored abutment is fabricated or a stock prefabricated metal abutment utilized.  The former has a higher lab fee than the latter.  And finally, what type of crown does the patient choose to have?  Gold, porcelain fused to metal or all porcelain/non metal crown?  Again, the lab fee would vary depending on what type of crown the patient and dentist choose to use.  So the answer is that there is no average fee.  It’s at least a couple thousand dollars for a dental implant on a front tooth.  Compared to the cost of a fixed bridge and implant could be more or less, depending on the above mentioned factors.  To answer more accurately the cost I would have to see the patient for a consultation and evaluate the specific situation.

Will insurance pay for Orange County dental implants?  That depends on what benefits the policy has.  Some plans do cover implants, many don’t.  However, even if there are no dental implant benefits, they usually cover the benefit for the crown the goes onto the dental implant and abutment.

If you have questions on whether or not you are a candidate for Orange County dental implants, and you are living in the Southern California area, I am happy to offer you a complimentary cosmetic dentistry consultation to discuss a dental implant and alternative treatments to solve your missing tooth problem.

Dr. Norman Huefner, Laguna Niguel cosmetic dentist serving Orange County and surrounding cities of Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Irvine and Newport Beach


Laguna Niguel cosmetic dentist creates beautiful dental veneers for Alma

Laguna Niguel cosmetic dentistry

Bottom photo: Alma's two composite plastic veneers didn't match her other teeth and she was very displeased and self conscious about the way her smile looked. Top photo: Dr. Huefner restored Alma's new smile with two dental veneers made of porcelain. The color, length and shape had to be accurately done to have a natural look. Also important was the amount of translucency of her teeth and veneers had to be very similar. Up close notice how the surface texture reflects light the same off of the dental veneers as her adjacent teeth. Much is taken into consideration when trying to create natural lifelike looking dental veneers.

Old composite plastic veneers didn’t match her other teeth

Alma is a young lady living in Laguna Niguel who was in desperate need of two dental veneers on her two front teeth.  As a youngster living outside of California she had broken both front teeth and a dentist recommended that he place two crowns on them.  Financially it was outside her budget at the time, so the dentist did his best to patch her teeth back up with two composite plastic veneers.  Alma was the first to admit when he did them they didn’t match her other teeth in color and “just didn’t look right.”  Years passed and Alma came to California and entered the work force.  One of the first things she saved to do was “get her teeth fixed” and have a nice smile again.

She explained her story to us and that she searched hard for a very good Laguna Niguel cosmetic dentist and that’s why came came to our office.  She also went on to tell us that she was definitely on a budget and just wanted to get her two front teeth fixed, “nothing else!”  The shape, color and whole appearance of her front two teeth were unnatural and she wanted to make sure that if we made her two new front teeth that they would match her other teeth.  Ideally, they would be made so lifelike that nobody would know that she had any cosmetic dentistry done on them.

mismatched composite plastic dental veneer in need of replacement

Alma was displeased and self conscious how poorly her front two teeth with composite plastic veneers looked. She was told she needed to have crowns placed but pleased when Dr. Huefner told her that he could get a great result for her by placing two porcelain dental veneers.

Alma was pleased to hear that we felt confidant that we could do that for her.  Newer techniques in cosmetic dentistry and some old fashioned dental artistry should enable us to make two dental veneers for her that very accurately matched her adjacent teeth.  She was also very pleased when we told her that we wouldn’t need to do two porcelain crowns, as her previous dentist had recommended.  We went on to explain that we realize that her previous dentist did the best that he could do at that time, but now by using porcelain for her dental veneers rather than composite plastic we should be able to create very natural looking teeth for her.

Laguna Niguel cosmetic dentist Dr. Huefner gives Alma back her smile

two porcelain veneers on front teeth

Alma insisted on only having treatment on her two front teeth and she wanted very natural lifelike results. Laguna Niguel cosmetic dentist placed two porcelain veneers for Alma which really pleased her, almost night and day compared to her old composite plastic veneers.

We discussed with her that we had to take much into consideration.  The shape, color and length of her dental veneers were extremely important things that we had to determine and we had to get them “just right.”  But on a higher level, we also needed to take into consideration the translucency of her teeth and the surface texture.  Both of those things would have a great impact on light passing through and reflecting off of both her teeth and dental veneers.

Very pleased with how much detail we were going to put into her two new dental veneers, Alma scheduled her treatment, which went extremely well.  We completed her treatment and she had her two new dental veneers two weeks later.

Most cosmetic dentists will agree that doing dental veneers or porcelain crowns on one front tooth or the two front teeth are oftentimes very challenging procedures to get a perfect match.  It takes skill, time and effort for the dentist and ceramist working together to accomplish that.  Do you think that Alma was pleased with our results?

Dr. Norm Huefner, Laguna Niguel cosmetic dentist


“Yikes! My Front Tooth Broke Off, What Can I Do?” How an Orange County cosmetic dentist saved his patient from major embarrassment.

broken front tooth

Amy was devastated and in tears when her front tooth broke off near her gum line. When this happens sometimes the tooth can be saved with a post and core and new porcelain crown. Other times the treatment of choice is either a dental implant or non-removable porcelain bridge.

Amy is an attractive lady, a Realtor by profession.  Back in her 20s she had chipped her front tooth badly and ended up needing to get a root canal and crown on it.  She was content until one day she was eating and bit down hard on something in her food.  Wham…..her tooth broke off near her gum line.

Amy was devastated, actually in tears!

She came into our Orange County dental office in Laguna Niguel as an “emergency” patient and in tears.  “What can I do?,” she asked.  “I can’t go out in public or to work missing my front tooth.  There must be some treatment you can do to give me back a front tooth.”

What happened to Amy is unfortunate, but not all that uncommon.  If a tooth has a large cavity or substantial amount of tooth broke off, then root canal and crown treatment are often the two treatments to save the front tooth.  The only problem was that Amy’s tooth was already very weak, and then she suffered additional trauma when she bit down on the hard object.  That was way more than her weak tooth could handle.  Thus, breaking off the crown.

How much tooth is left is a major consideration when treating a broken tooth

When trying to salvage the tooth for Amy our first consideration was how much tooth was left ABOVE THE GUM LINE?  If there is 2-4mm or tooth ABOVE the gum line, then with some heroic dentistry a new crown can oftentimes be made.  But the patient must understand that there is absolutely no guarantee that the tooth won’t break again.

If the tooth breaks at or below the gum line, then it is unlikely that the tooth can be saved.  In that case, the tooth would be extracted and either a dental implant, fixed porcelain bridge or some cases a removable partial denture made to give the patient back their front tooth.

laguna niguel porcelain crown

Amy was fortunate that she had already had a root canal on her tooth and there was a minimal amount of tooth left above her gum line. A post and core and new porcelain crown were fabricated, saving her from the humiliation and embarrassment of not having a front tooth.

In Amy’s case, as one can see in the photo, there was some tooth left above the gum line.  So she was in luck!  Since her tooth had already had a root canal we explained to Amy that we could try to save her tooth by placing a post and core into her root canal filling and by doing that we could create enough tooth above her gums to place a new porcelain crown on.

Amy tears began to stop.

“When can you do that for me?” she asked.  “I have to go to work today and I can’t see clients looking like this?”

To Amy’s delight we said we could build up her tooth with the post and core and make her a temporary crown right then and there.  We would do what we needed to do, make her a new tooth and she would be done in just over an hour’s time and be able to go to work as normal.  In two weeks time her porcelain crown would be completed by our ceramist and we would then remove her temporary crown and cement on her final porcelain crown.

We were able to do everything exactly as planned and Amy got her new crown on her broken front tooth two weeks later. However, that being said, it must be stressed that this kind of heroic dental treatment to save a broken tooth cannot always be done and oftentimes it is not the best long term solution.  Again, alternative treatments options like a dental implant, fixed porcelain bridge or sometimes (but rarely) a removable partial denture are better ways to treat a patient with a broken off or missing front tooth.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions about Amy’s treatment.

Dr. Norman Huefner, Orange County Cosmetic Dentistry and Porcelain Veneers. Serving the surrounding cities of Laguna Niguel, Irvine, Newport Beach, Mission Viejo, Coto de Caza and Rancho Santa Margarita
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