The type of dentistry where the primary focus is the modification of the appearance of a patients teeth and surrounding structures is known as cosmetic dentistry. While this type of dentistry does focus primarily on the appearance of the patient it is also done with the prevention and treatment of teeth, gums and all oral structures in mind. Most patients naturally pursue this type of dentistry to improve their appearance. But, how do you know if this type of dentistry is for you? The main focus of this type of dentistry is simply to improve someone’s smile. Cosmetic dentist will consider the appearance of individual teeth as well as the overall look of a patient’s smile. This field has become the fastest growing segment of dentistry as many patients who just a few years ago would have had to remain unhappy about their appearance now have the option to change it. So, to determine if it is for you, ask yourself if you would like a change in the appearance of your smile. If you answer yes, it is time to look at the benefits and options, and talk to your dentist.
This change in dentistry has been primarily brought about with a change in technology. In the past dental fillings and other tooth restorations were veneered with porcelain with gold, amalgam and other metals being underneath. Today materials that more closely mimic the appearance of a natural tooth can be used in dental restorations. These fillings or other devices are made entirely of porcelain or other composite materials. These newer more natural looking materials give the wearer the effect of having nearly perfect teeth. The teeth colored materials are bonded using resin adhesives to the underlying tooth structure. While many dentists specialize in only cosmetic dentistry, many general dentists are expanding their practice to include cosmetic dentistry procedures.
There are many different options that are commonplace in cosmetic dentistry. Some of these options are-
o Whitening also known as tooth bleaching. This is perhaps the most commonly prescribed and used cosmetic dental procedure. While grocery and drug stores offer many off the shelf options for teeth whitening, dentist supervised treatments remain the recommended procedure for lightening discolored teeth. This type of tooth bleaching has also been shown in several research studies to show the most significant results in achieving the desired whiteness.
o Enamel shaping involves removing part of the contouring enamel to improve the appearance of the tooth or teeth. It can be used to treat or correct a very small chip. It is important to note that the removed enamel is irreplaceable. This procedure is also known as enameloplasty, odontoplasty, recontouring, reshaping, slenderizing and stripping.
o Bonding is used to improve the appearance of chipped or cracked teeth. This is usually the best option when teeth have been moderately to severely damaged. This process involves using enamel like dental composite material that is applied to the tooth’s surface. It is then sculpted into shape, hardened and then polished. Users of this type of process report very high satisfaction rates with this procedure.
o Veneers are an increasingly popular procedure. Using this method involves having ultra thin, custom made laminates bonded directly to the teeth. This is a very good option for disguising discolored teeth that may not have responded well to whitening procedures. Veneers are also used to close gaps in teeth.
Many patients are left to consider if cosmetic dentistry is for them. By looking carefully at their smile patients can consider if there is a need for improvement. Cosmetic dentistry can also help correct abnormal gum problems or out of date dental treatment. Many people feel self conscious about their smiles and could benefit greatly in improved self esteem by taking advantage of cosmetic dentistry. After considering the options and consulting with their dentist if the patient feel cosmetic dentistry is for them then the options for a better and brighter smile await!