Most dental procedures concentrate on improving and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. However, the appearance of your teeth is also essential. If your teeth are stained, cracked, or strangely shaped, you may wish to see a dentist who can perform cosmetic dentistry to improve the appearance of your teeth. Cosmetic dental procedures might make it simpler to care for your teeth, but the chief purpose is enhancing the look of your smile.
Cosmetic dentistry is sometimes confused with orthodontics, and although the two are often related, they are separate specializations within dentistry. Depending on your requirements, your dentist and orthodontist may work mutually to enhance your smile. Still, cosmetic dental treatments focus on improving the appearance of teeth, while orthodontists focus on repositioning the teeth in your mouth with appliances like braces and clear aligners like Invisalign.
What Can a Cosmetic Dentist Fix?
If you are unhappy with the look of your smile, you should consider seeing a cosmetic dentist. Do you feel self-conscious when you’re in public? Are you nervous to smile in pictures because you do not want others to see your teeth? A lack of confidence in your smile can cause you to miss out on life and social experiences, and it can even impair your ability to interview successfully for a new job you’ve been seeking. Here are some specific problems cosmetic dentists can address:
It’s normal for your teeth to take on a yellowish hue as you age. You may also have dark stains from years of drinking coffee, red wine, or dark beer. Minor staining can sometimes be addressed with whitening toothpaste and at-home whitening kits, but for more severe stains, you’ll need to see a cosmetic dentist.
A chipped tooth can call a lot of unwanted attention to your smile. Small chips that are not serious enough to threaten the health of your tooth may still have a negative impact by making you feel self-conscious, but thankfully, this is a problem your cosmetic dentist can address.
Teeth That Look Too Small
When you smile, do you feel like your teeth are too small for your mouth or gums? If the problem is excess gum tissue that covers up your teeth, you may need to have an oral surgeon perform a gum reduction procedure. However, if your teeth or a single tooth is indeed too small for your mouth, your cosmetic dentist can correct the problem.
Gaps Between Your Teeth
Sometimes gaps between the teeth remain even after an orthodontist adjusts your teeth with braces or Invisalign. Your teeth may be too narrow to fill out your dental arch. Your cosmetic dentist can make one or more teeth appear slightly wider, closing a gap without the need for additional orthodontic work.
Cosmetic Dentistry Services
When you first meet with your cosmetic dentist for a consultation, they will tell you which procedures they feel are best for attaining the smile you desire. In some cases, you may need only one process. In other cases, your cosmetic dentist may recommend a combination of several treatments to address various problems that are plaguing your smile. There are three cosmetic treatments used most often by dentists.
Professional Teeth Whitening
Stains and yellowing are perhaps the most common complaint among cosmetic dental patients. Professional whitening is a procedure in which specialized bleach solutions are applied to the teeth. The bleach penetrates the enamel and removes deep, set-in stains like those from coffee and wine. Most people with healthy teeth and gums are good candidates for professional whitening. If you have any cavities or gum disease, you will need to have these issues addressed before you proceed with treatment.
There are two basic types of professional whitening treatments. In-office whitening is a procedure in which your dentist applies a robust bleach solution to your teeth, and then shines a specialized UV light on your teeth to activate the solution. This process is repeated a total of three times during your appointment, and you leave with teeth that are up to 10 shades whiter.
The other approach is take-home whitening trays. With this procedure, your dentist makes a custom mold of your teeth and uses it to make trays that fit firmly around your teeth. You are sent home with these trays and a specialized bleach solution. These specialized whitening trays from your dentist yield far more apparent results than over-the-counter whitening kits you can purchase at the pharmacy because the bleaching agents your dentist provides are more durable and more effective.
If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, or if one or several of your teeth appear too short or narrow, your cosmetic dentist may recommend a bonding treatment. Bonding is a procedure in which your cosmetic dentist applies a tooth-colored material, called composite resin, to the surface of your teeth. The composite can be used to fill a cracked or chipped area, or it can be carefully laid and shaped along the edge of your tooth, making it appear longer or wider. When the process is complete, you will not be able to tell where your natural tooth ends and where the bonding begins.
The process of bonding is very similar to that of having a cavity filled. Your mouth will be numbed with a local anesthetic, and then your dentist will file down the tooth surface to ensure the composite adheres well. Then, he or she will use a unique, syringe-like device to apply the resin. It hardens quickly, and then your dentist can shape it with a particular filing tool.
If you have deep stains that cannot be completely removed with whitening, or if you have multiple teeth that are crooked, stained, chipped, or improperly sized, your dentist may recommend veneers. These are thin caps of porcelain that sit over the front of your teeth. When someone looks at you, they will see the veneers rather than the teeth behind them. Many people think of veneers as the bright, sparkling white tooth enhancements that celebrities wear, but they can be made in any color. If you want a more natural look rather than a stark white smile, your cosmetic dentist can make your veneers a more natural shade.
The process of having veneers applied is quite simple. First, your dentist removes a thin layer of tooth enamel to ensure the porcelain veneers adhere firmly. Then, an impression is made of your teeth and sent off to the lab. When your custom veneers arrive, your dentist fixes them to your teeth with special dental cement. Once you have veneers put into place, you must wear them for the rest of your life. As long as you avoid crunchy foods and grinding your teeth, your veneers should last for many years.
Many patients choose veneers over bonding because they last longer and can address multiple issues at once. The results of whitening treatments are not permanent; your teeth can accumulate additional stains, so you will have to have other whitening procedures in the future. Veneers do not stain, so they keep your teeth looking whiter for longer.
Benefits of Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic dentistry can make you feel more confident in your appearance. If you work in an industry like acting or the performing arts, dental procedures can give you the look you need to excel in your field. These procedures can also make you look more professional and polished. Your improved self-confidence after a dental procedure may inspire you to pursue new relationships and to expand your social circle, making for a happier and more balanced life.
Cost of Dental Procedures
Since dental procedures are not generally necessary for the health of your teeth, most health insurance plans do not cover the cost. Many dentists do offer financing options that allow you to pay for your treatments over time, making cosmetic dentistry more affordable.
Expect to pay approximately $199 for an in-office whitening procedure. Take-home whitening trays usually cost significantly less. Porcelain veneers are the most expensive dental treatment for most patients. You may pay anywhere from $800+ per tooth, but keep in mind that veneers last longer than bonding or whitening and maybe the most affordable choice over a lifetime.
Find a Dentist Near Me
A better smile can improve your self-confidence and change your life. If you would like to improve the appearance of your teeth, try our “dentist near me” Zip search tool to book an appointment online, or by calling at (214)731-0123. You and your dentist can discuss your goals and explore the best treatment approaches to give you a smile you’ve always dreamed of.