What is Cosmetic Dentistry?Unlike traditional dentistry which emphasizes oral hygiene and the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease in the mouth, the field of cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the overall appearance of the teeth, the mouth, and most importantly, the smile. Another way to put it, traditional dentistry is considered restorative or general practice and is only concerned with addressing dental problems that require necessary treatment, such as filling cavities or performing root canals. Cosmetic dentistry is an elective treatment that helps improve the aesthetic quality of the mouth. That isn’t to say that cosmetic dentistry is without any restorative benefit. Dental fillings are a good example in which restorative and cosmetic dentistry are combined. In the past fillings with gold, silver amalgam and other materials would leave noticeable dark spots on the teeth. The filling materials used today could be considered cosmetic because you can select from a filling of either porcelain or composite materials that are matched to the color of your teeth, allowing you to keep the natural appearance of your teeth. As these materials become more available and affordable, many people are replacing their old fillings with these new ones.
What kinds of trends are happening right now in cosmetic dentistry?Developments in the technology behind cosmetic dental treatments have allowed for more natural-looking treatments that are durable for many years. Additionally, more and more dentists are using new techniques to be more conservative about how much teeth they remove, this leaving as much of the natural tooth as possible. Some dentists are using laser technologies to perform procedures that are needed for cosmetic treatments right in their own offices, with no need for referrals to specialists. This means that cosmetic procedures are becoming more comfortable and convenient for patients and help to reduce recovery time.
What kinds of options of treatment are there?The most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments options are:
- Inlays or Onlays: Known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays are made from porcelain and composite materials to create a long-lasting yet aesthetically pleasing way to fill a tooth that has tooth decay or other structural damage. Unlike traditional fillings, which are molded in place within the mouth during the dental visit, inlays and onlays are fitted and adhesively bonded to the teeth by your dentist.
- Composite Bonding: When chipped, broken, decayed, or a discolored tooth needs to be repaired, they may have their appearance restored using composite bonding. Dental composite material is meant to resemble the look of the enamel and dentin is applied to the cavity, or on the surface of the tooth and then sculpted into shape, and then hardened by a high-intensity light. The result is a natural kind of restoration that blends with the remainder of your teeth to create a healthy, beautiful smile.
- Teeth Whitening: This is perhaps the most commonly recommended procedure in cosmetic dentistry. Teeth can be stained over time from smoking, food, drinks like coffee and tea, or poor oral hygiene. Bleaching the teeth can enhance the appearance of your smile.
- Dental Veneers: Dental veneers are composite or porcelain laminates that are adhesively bonded to the surface of the tooth so that the appearance of the tooth can be improved. Veneers are generally suggested after there is no success with bleaching the teeth or with gaps in the teeth.
- Dental Implants: Dental implants are essentially artificial teeth that can replace a lost tooth and are a kind of prosthetic to compensate for tooth loss. Dental implants can prevent some of the worst side effects of tooth loss, namely the change in the shape of your jaw, making you look older.
- Smile Makeover: Smile makeovers are a comprehensive assessment and a treatment plan to overhaul your smile’s overall procedure. Typically there are one or two cosmetic procedures that you undergo depending on your needs and oral health.
How to find the right cosmetic dentistYou must spend some time considering your options when finding a qualified cosmetic dentist. While there is no formally recognized cosmetic dentist, many dentists are now offering cosmetic treatments. This combined with the wide variety of procedures to choose from means that your choices can be enormous. Try to follow these tips:
- Consider the recommendation of your dentist or family dentist’s recommendation. Your general dentist will have the best picture of the current status of your mouth. They may even refer you to a dentist should the need be present.
- Do your homework and investigate the level of cosmetic dentistry expertise of each dentist before you set up a consultation. You may need to ask if the dentist is skilled in the procedure that you want to undergo.
- Ask the following questions:
- How long has the dentist been practicing?
- Are there actual photos of patients that show before and after?
- How extensive is the practice?
- What technologies are used in the practice?
- What kind of patient comforts are used in practice? How can you be made the most comfortable?