Cosmetic dentistry describes a set of techniques and procedures used to enhance a person’s teeth, smile and ultimately confidence. It is widely acknowledged that the “smile makeover” that results can significantly improve a person’s appearance leading to a more positive lifestyle, both socially and in the work environment.
These days, cosmetic dentistry offers options ranging from polishing, bleaching, covering techniques, bonding, implanting and orthodontia for complete mouth over, to give you the perfect smile. Recent medical advances have reduced the pain and trauma associated with dental work. An experienced dentist can help you to get that beautiful, brilliant and dazzling smile you always aspired for.
A cosmetic dentist can use numerous techniques, solely or in combination to dramatically improve the teeth, gums, and smile. These procedures range from simple tooth whitening to complex multiple tooth implants and full mouth reconstruction. No longer is the dental art confined to simple fillings and extractions!
Types of Cosmetic Dental Works
A skilled dentist can cosmetically change your teeth for that confidant, brilliant smile while largely preserving the original teeth. The following are the main cosmetic dentistry techniques used today:
Stained or discolored teeth can be lightened with tooth bleach technique, either at home or at the dentist. Weak hydrogen peroxide gel in a plastic tray cup of your teeth size worn on teeth for 4-5 hours daily for a week effectively whitens the teeth. High-intensity light along with 35% peroxide for one hour under doctor’s supervision to whitens teeth.
A dental veneer is a thin covering or “shell” designed to fit the outside of the original tooth to mask shape, colour, and positional problems and defects. Part of the original tooth exterior is usually removed to make way for the new veneer so the technique is partially invasive.
Following initial measuring and preparation of the tooth surface, the veneer is “glued” into place. Veneers are usually made from porcelain, ceramic or composite materials and more recently have been made more hard-wearing than earlier versions. Crooked, chipped, spaced teeth can be covered by wafer-thin porcelain laminated veneer bonded on to the original tooth enamel. This is a very effective treatment for front teeth correction.
The veneering procedure is usually done over two visits to the dentist with “temporary” veneers being fitted between visits. Veneering is often chosen as the treatment of choice by acting professionals and those in the media spotlight as dramatic results can be achieved quite quickly and cost-effectively.
A dental tooth implant made of titanium is surgically placed permanently into the jawbone of missing teeth. It is designed to act as tooth root to hold on to any artificial tooth, crown, bridge or denture.
Crowns are protective covers, made from porcelain or ceramic which fit over the existing tooth to mask defects e.g. cracks and discolouration. Initially, the tooth is shaped to receive the crown with the patient under local anesthetic. An impression of the tooth is then taken and used by the dental laboratory to create the colour-matched crown.
During the manufacturing process, the patient will be fitted with temporary crowns, typically for around two to three weeks. On the second visit to the dentist, the crowns are bonded into place. The badly chipped, broken or decayed tooth is capped or crowned with acrylic or porcelain fused with metal. It covers the tooth so that it can stand biting pressure without further damage.
Mild scraping of original tooth enamel can reshape front teeth. Then tooth-colored composite plastic enamel of the desired shape is bonded on the original tooth. This is hardened and polished with a special light to give you a winning smile.
Enamel shaping is the process of reshaping teeth with filing or removing some enamel for immediate, painless teeth correction.
This is a specialized branch of dentistry that deals with moving or realigning teeth to improve appearance. This usually involves the wearing of an appliance or “brace” which gently applies pressure to the teeth to move them to the correct position.
Orthodontics is often performed in the teenage years as the mouth and jaw develop but more adults are choosing this option to realign their teeth – however, the process can take longer for an adult. It is best for crooked or buck teeth and can be done on children and adults alike. Invisible lingual braces are inserted behind teeth to straighten them and also to correct bite-related problems.
The results of orthodontics are usually permanent but the process can be quite expensive due to the multiple consultations and reviews with the cosmetic dentist. Additionally, patience is required as the process can be lengthy!
The whole set of teeth worn on the underlying bone can correct major tooth problems.
Considered to be one of the most accessible and affordable techniques, tooth whitening (or bleaching) comes in a variety of different forms. Typically this procedure involves the use of a special laser or halogen lamp and/or application of a bleaching gel of varying strengths. Several branded treatments are available including the popular “Biolase”, “Zoom” and “Britesmile”.
Optimal results can be achieved quite quickly and the technique is nearly painless, non-invasive and cost-effective. Tooth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure available today.
A more complex technique, a dental implant procedure involve implanting a titanium (or similar) rod into the jawbone to act as a stable base for an artificial tooth or to provide support for bridges, crowns or dentures.
Titanium is usually used as the anchor rod because it integrates well with the surrounding bone and tissue with only a very minor risk of rejection. Full mouth reconstructions often employ multiple tooth implants in conjunction with other techniques e.g. bonding.
Where a tooth has been lost, a dental bridge can be used to “bridge” the gap between the two remaining adjacent teeth. A bespoke structure is formed in the dental laboratory incorporating a hollow crown to support the missing tooth. This bridge structure is then bonded to the adjacent teeth, neatly filling the gap from where the original tooth was lost.
Similarly to crowns and veneers, the replacement bridge tooth will be colour matched to the rest of the teeth. Bridging is popular because it is usually a permanent solution and is less invasive than implantology. It is also less bulky than an equivalent denture.
Recent Dentistry Developments
Some recent dental survey findings:
- 74% of people believe they have unsightly teeth
- 68% of people are embarrassed about their smile in photographs
- 45% of people make judgements about others by the look of their smile
- 70% of people think an attractive smile helps romantically
The techniques detailed above can create the perfect “smile makeover” and go a long way to addressing these concerns. No longer is the art of dentistry confined to fillings and extractions!