Cosmetic dentistry refers to the field that focuses on improving the aesthetic appearance of one's smile while also preserving the health of the teeth and gums.What many do not know about cosmetic dentistry is that many general dentists can and do perform these types of procedures. There are, of course, dentists who focus solely on…
3 Common Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments
If you are looking to improve your smile, you may be thinking of trying cosmetic dentistry. This type of dental work focuses on covering or treating certain issues to change the appearance of one's teeth, gums, or both. Most people have at least one complaint about their smile, ranging from missing, misshapen, and misaligned teeth to discoloration. A cosmetic dentist can recommend one or more procedures that can correct the issues in your smile and help increase your confidence.
Common cosmetic dentistry procedures
Cosmetic options can range from simple and quick to more complex and invasive, and the cost of these procedures can run the gamut to fit any budget.
1. Teeth whitening
Professional whitening is by far the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure, and it can get rid of bad stains on teeth. Not only does the process produce quick results, but it also only takes one office visit, is non-invasive, and lasts a long time with proper care.
If it has been a while since your last professional cleaning, the tartar and plaque may be removed first before the dentist starts the whitening procedure. During the procedure, the dentist begins by protecting the gums with a shield or sealant material. Then, the whitening product is applied to the teeth. A UV light or laser helps to activate the bleaching agent for about 15 minutes. The whitening gel is then removed. These steps are repeated one or more times depending on the desired shade.
The results of professional teeth whitening can be customized to your particular shade and often lasts up to two years. However, the results will not last as long if you regularly consume dark-colored beverages like coffee, red wine, and tea, or if you use tobacco products.
2. Bonding or veneers
If you have discolored, chipped, cracked, or slightly crooked teeth, you may want to consider dental bonding or veneers. These cosmetic dentistry procedures also help to cover gaps or areas of damaged enamel. Although both bonding and veneers are applied to the front of the teeth, there are differences between the two.
For dental bonding, a dentist applies layers of composite resin and then hardens each layer with a special light. After the final layer is hardened, the teeth are trimmed and adjusted to the desired size and shape. Bonding typically does not last as long as veneers. However, the enamel is not taken off for the procedure, so tooth bonding is reversible.
For veneers, the dentist applies thin shells made of tooth-colored porcelain. To bond the veneers to the front of the teeth, the dentist must remove a fair amount of enamel, which makes the procedure permanent. Veneers usually have a longer lifespan than bonding. However, both veneers and bonded teeth can be fragile, so if you choose either of these, you should avoid biting or chewing on hard objects or food.
3. Dental implants
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that create a sturdy foundation for removable or permanent replacements for missing teeth. To replace one or more teeth, the dentist inserts rods directly into the jawbone and then attaches crowns on top. These crowns function and look like real teeth. This procedure takes months to complete, but implants can last a lifetime if you take care of them. Benefits of implants include the following:
- Durability: with proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime.
- Eating: dental implants work like natural teeth, enabling you to consume your favorite food easily and painlessly.
- Comfort: because implants are permanently affixed to your jaw, they are more comfortable than removable dentures.
- Appearance: implants feel and look like your teeth; no one will know your original tooth was missing or damaged.
- Speech: when removable dentures fit poorly, they can slip and cause mumbling or slurring during speech. Implants remain firmly in place, allowing you to speak with confidence.
- Self-esteem: implants help you forget you had missing teeth, restoring confidence in your smile and improving overall self-esteem.
- Oral health: implants do not require alteration to adjacent teeth, which improves the overall health and strength of the gums, jaw, and mouth.
- Convenience: dental implants take away the necessity of dental adhesives and the embarrassment of removing dentures.
Everyone has something they want to correct about their teeth. Whether it's missing teeth, discoloration, or a crooked smile, choosing cosmetic dentistry is a good option if you want to improve some aspect of your smile. Your dentist will discuss your concerns, goals, and budget before recommending a cosmetic treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.
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