Few people absolutely love their smile. But, the good news – cosmetic dentistry is constantly getting better with improved products, more options, longer lasting materials, and more natural looking restorations. This article will attempt to address the spectrum of cosmetic dentistry and present treatment options for the most common smile concerns.
Cosmetic dentistry basically means making teeth look better, and there are many ways of doing this. It’s each patient’s specific concerns relative to their individual smile that dictates their particular treatment. In other words, there is no one procedure that will make everyone happy. Each patient’s cosmetic treatment plan will depend on their own personal desires and expectations.
The most common smile complaints, in no particular order, are: color, alignment (crowded teeth), minimal chips/fractures, spaces, shape, length, or too much gum showing. Below are explanations of these smile irregularities and treatments of choice for each.
Let’s start with color. The most common procedure in cosmetic dentistry is teeth whitening. It’s easy, predictable, relatively inexpensive, and can produce a drastic change in your smile. Also under the color category would be stained restorations which can be easily replaced or sometimes polished and silver fillings which can also be replaced with tooth-colored restorations. So, if you like everything about your smile except the color of your teeth, teeth whitening and/or replacing your fillings is the treatment for you.
If you are unhappy with the alignment of your teeth, orthodontics (Invisalign or braces) may be your best option. Crowded teeth, rotated teeth, crossbites, deep bites, and open bites can all be corrected by orthodontics. (Learn more about Invisalign)
If you like most aspects of your smile except a few rough edges or chips and fractures, dental bonding may work best for you. This treatment also sometimes works well to close spaces or gaps between the teeth.
Excess gum display or uneven gum heights can be corrected in 2 ways: laser gum re-contouring or gum surgery. The treatment depends on how much gum needs to be removed. Minimal adjustments can be modified by a laser, while excessive revisions would require surgery.
Some people say they detest everything about their smile. They dislike the shape, color, contour, alignment, and length of their teeth. These patients are great candidates for porcelain veneers. With porcelain veneers, the dentist and the ceramist are in total control of the smile. Normally 8-10 porcelain veneers are required on the upper teeth to get the desired result. Minimal alignment issues can also be corrected. Porcelain veneers are the “top of the line” treatment in cosmetic dentistry. (See before and after photos of veneers)
These procedures can be and usually are done in combination. Sometimes orthodontics and/or gum re-contouring is needed prior to porcelain veneers. Sometimes porcelain veneers are performed on the upper teeth and Invisalign, bonding, and teeth whitening are performed on the lower teeth.
As you can see, the sky is the limit now with cosmetic dentistry. The question for the patient is to find out what you don’t like about your smile and the task for the dentist is to find the best treatment to fit your specific needs.