People no longer just go to a dentist when they are having a problem. Nowadays, with the advancement in dentistry, many people turn to it as a way to improve their smile and appearance. That’s what cosmetic dentistry is, which can be thought of as the same way as cosmetic surgery or even some beauty treatment.
Your smile can have a major impact on your overall appearance, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Even a small smile enhancement or a cosmetic dentistry procedure can have dramatic results on your overall appearance and can make you want to smile more.
Cosmetic procedures improve your smile by treating teeth that are misshapen, discolored, chipped, or missing.
Common procedures include
- Contouring and reshaping
Bleaching is popularly known as teeth whitening, which is used for removing stains, discoloration or just giving the teeth a whiter shade.
Bleaching or Teeth Whitening can take a single 45 minute visit to the dentist where the dentist prepares a custom mouthpiece with the correct amount of whitening solution to make sure all your teeth are exposed.
Bonding is used to treat cracked, chipped, broken or stained teeth. It is also used to fill excess spaces between teeth, fill small cavities or an exposed root of a tooth.
Bonding is usually performed in a single office visit where the dentist applies an etching solution followed by tooth colored material – composite resin sometimes – directly on the tooth surface wherever needed.
Crowns are used to treat misshapen, broken or worn out tooth. It’s also used to protect a week tooth, a tooth with a large cavity, or a tooth that had a root canal treatment. Crowns are sometimes known as caps and they completely cover a tooth restoring a perfectly normal shape and appearance.
Crowns are quite expensive and are usually only recommended when other treatments don’t work. However, they last for a lifetime if taken good care of.
The procedure includes a single or multiple visits. The dentist first prepares the tooth for the crown, prepares molds of the tooth, takes digital impression and often gives you a temporary crown first, placing the permanent one at a separate time.
Veneers are custom shells, made of porcelain or plastic that are placed on the front sides of the teeth to change their shape and color. These are used to treat teeth that have become discolored, stained, chipped, worn, are crooked or poorly shaped and that have spaces between them.
Veneers are less expensive than crowns but last longer than bonding and provide a superior appearance. The procedure for veneers can take multiple visits as these are mostly made in the laboratory. The dentist first takes an impression of your tooth before having it custom made. The tooth is then buffed to compensate for the added thickness of the veneer. The veneer is then cemented onto the tooth. When the cement is in place, a light beam is used to harden it and to make sure it stays in place.
Contouring and Reshaping
Contouring and reshaping is used to treat crooked, misshapen or chipped teeth. It also corrects minor bite problems. The procedure involves enamel removal and contouring to improve the shape of the tooth. It’s common for bonding to be combined with contouring.
Braces are very popularly used by people of all ages to correct jaw problems, crooked or crowded teeth, irregular bite and jaw positioning problems. They’re worn to apply pressure to the teeth to reposition them. The whole process takes a few months to longer depending on the case.
The dentist first bonds brackets made of metal, ceramic or plastic to your teeth. Then she places wires through those brackets to guide your teeth in their correct positions. It requires several visits after the braces are attached in which the dentist tightens your braces. Expect some discomfort for a few days.
The treatment with braces involves two things: wearing braces to move the teeth in their correct position and wearing retainers to keep the teeth in their new position.
Another alternative for wearing braces includes wearing clear aligners, which corrects minor spacing problems. Aligners are invisible braces, which the dentist reshapes and replaces about every two weeks to progressively reposition your teeth.
Bridges are used to replace missing teeth with artificial teeth. They are literally used to bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. The gap left by missing teeth can create problems as the other surrounding teeth start shifting and rotating into the empty spaces resulting in an improper bite. This imbalance can also lead to gum diseases and other disorders.
Bridges are made of gold, alloy, porcelain or a combination. These are prepared for crowns and are then anchored onto surrounding teeth. A false replacement tooth is then attached to the crowns to replace the missing tooth.
Implants is an expensive procedure used to replace missing teeth. They are an alternative to bridges and removable dentures. Implants involve a titanium metal, which fuses into your jawbone, an abutment which fits over the part of the implant that sticks out of the gums, and a crown especially made for a natural tooth-like appearance.
Which procedure is right for you?
The procedure right for you depends on the condition of your teeth and your desired results. It’s best to visit a dentist and ask questions about what to expect in each procedure, whether it’s right for you and take your dentist’s opinions. When considering a treatment, consider the following things:
- Costs involved in the procedure
- What to expect throughout the treatment?
- Does it cause any discomfort?
- What will the changes look like?
- What type of maintenance will be required?
How to look for a cosmetic dentist
Keep in mind that most General and Family dentists can perform cosmetic dentistry procedures. However, when looking for a dentist, ask for the following items:
- Before and after photos
- Reference from other patients
- Proof of continuing education
With these in mind, you can make an informed decision about which procedure is best for you.