Cosmetic dentistry is the branch of the dental arts and sciences that is focused on delivering the most attractive smile to patients. Like all the branches of dentistry, there can be some overlap between function and aesthetics; that is, a cosmetic treatment may also restore some function to a tooth or teeth, although the main objective of cosmetic dentistry is to improve the appearance of the teeth and smile. Teeth can be improved in terms of color, shape, and alignment to create a more appealing smile.
What can cosmetic dentistry do for me?
Cosmetic dentistry improves the look of your teeth and smile, and there are many procedures under the umbrella of cosmetic dentistry. Below we describe some of the most popular and how they can help you reach your smile goals.
A professional teeth whitening session is the easiest and often quickest of all cosmetic dental procedures. Performed in the office, teeth whitening uses a professional, prescription-strength hydrogen and carbamide peroxide gel that penetrates and saturates into the tooth’s enamel, getting deep into the microtubules that permeate teeth. The peroxide lifts away stains and discolorations, lightening your teeth three to five shades, sometimes more.
Laser whitening is also available. Laser whitening uses a very powerful whitening agent that is around 40% peroxide. After the whitening gel is placed on the teeth, the laser’s heat boosts the process along. Although laser whitening must be done in the dental office, there are many products available over-the-counter for more conventional whitening. These products don’t work as rapidly as a professional whitening procedure; neither are they as effective, but they do make an excellent supplement to professional teeth whitening.
Veneers are thin shells of tooth-colored materials such as ceramic porcelain laminate or composite resin. Veneers fit over the surface of teeth and hide stains and discolorations that teeth whitening cannot remove. Veneers can help fix misshapen or misaligned teeth to restore functionality and create a better-looking smile as well. A dentist must shave the outer layer of the teeth so that they will fit properly, and then will attach the veneers. Veneers normally last for years and will perfectly match your other teeth so that no one will even know they are there.
A dentist uses dental bonding to fix cracked, chipped, misshapen or discolored teeth. A special tooth-colored enamel like composite resin is applied to the teeth, then shaped to fit, polished and hardened through the use of a special blue light that causes chemicals in the resin to harden and fuse to the tooth. The result is a smooth, natural-looking tooth surface.
Reshaping contours the enamel of the tooth until it’s in a more aesthetically pleasing form. Sometimes this is an ideal choice for misshapen teeth, requiring less time than veneers or bonding. A sanding drill is used to reshape the tooth until imperfections are removed. The process rarely requires sedation and is painless.
Bridges are a cosmetic solution that can also help a person chew, eat and talk better. Bridges replace missing teeth by being anchored to natural teeth on either side of the gap formed by the missing teeth. In this way, bridges ‘bridge’ the space left by missing teeth. Unlike partial dentures, bridges are fixed in place and cannot be removed, except by a dentist.
Dental implants replace missing teeth and provide a natural-looking, permanent solution. They help patients to chew, eat and speak naturally, and help to prevent bone loss. Implants are composed of three pieces: a titanium post, an abutment, and the artificial tooth. The titanium post is set directly into the jawbone, where it helps stimulate blood flow to the bone tissue. The abutment is an attachment point affixed directly to the post, and the artificial tooth, colored to match your natural teeth, then sits on top of the abutment.
Gum lifts or Gum shaping
Gums can be too high on the tooth line or too low. A gum lift reshapes the gums to help teeth look longer and straighter.
Braces and Orthodontic Appliances
Braces realign crooked or misaligned teeth, making smiles straighter and more appealing. They also improve the bite by correcting overbites, underbites, open bites, cross bites, and/or gaps. Modern dental appliances no longer have to be made of metal as well. Clear braces can also be a great option, as they are not very noticeable and allow you to straighten your teeth with aligners you can take off. Although most severe instances of malocclusion must still be treated with traditional metal braces, many cases of mild to moderate misalignment can be addressed with clear braces.
Any general dentist can perform most cosmetic services, and many only take only a couple visits to complete. If you’re curious about how we can improve your smile, give us a call today! You may be surprised at how easy it is to get a bright, white smile!