Cosmetic Dental Change — A Compendium
People have different perceptions of what represents a beautiful smile, both dental professionals and you. For some it involves natural tooth appearance, just whiter; for others it may involve the creation of evenly aligned and very bright teeth. And for others yet, the alteration of tooth shape by making teeth larger, the edges more balanced or the teeth and gum line more proportionally balanced — these are but a few of the options available today.
What follows is a review of the many areas and techniques that have been summarized for your convenience. Please review them for further details and what might be right for you.
Basic hygiene: Brushing and flossing will remove dental (bacterial) plaque and together with a fluoride toothpaste will protect your teeth against decay — the most basic everyday cosmetic protection. It doesn’t get more basic than this.
Polish : A visit to your friendly dental hygienist to remove unwanted scale and stain masking an already natural smile may be all that is necessary to renew your smile. This is good for staining caused by coffee, tea, wine and other stains “outside” or on the tooth surfaces.
Home Whitening: Includes whitening strips, “paint-on or brush-on” whitening, lozenges and even whitening gum. The most basic over-the-counter products are available in drugstores. These professionally unsupervised techniques, containing carbamide peroxide, real bleaching agents at low concentration, are the least expensive ways to improve and whiten your teeth. Be careful to follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully and don’t over do it.
Professionally Supervised Whitening: You may try this at home under the direction of your dentist who will make you professionally fitted clear plastic trays designed to fit over your own teeth. With the appropriate whitening “gels,” generally carbamide peroxide 10% solutions applied for 30 minutes twice a day you can achieve a cosmetic difference for yourself. Slow but sure, this may take about six weeks to get the change you want.
Professional Whitening: Performed in your dentist’s office with special precautions to protect your gums and other oral tissues, this one time technique uses high concentration bleaching agents (35-45%). It might just give your smile the “wow” you want in short order.
Beyond Basic — Cosmetic Dentist to the Rescue
Let’s Bond: Changing the teeth themselves is literally in the hands of your dentist. Minor changes can be accomplished by bonding “composite” resin to chipped or discolored front teeth.
Tooth Colored Metal Free Restorations for Back Teeth: Today’s modern techniques and materials allow replacement of missing tooth structure, which bonds directly to tooth substance, not only matching tooth color exactly but actually strengthening the teeth.
Porcelain Veneers: Simply stated a veneer in dentistry is a thin layer of dental porcelain restorative material, that replaces tooth enamel. Provided your teeth are basically in the right position within the jaw structure, these remarkable life-like restorations can truly change a smile — cosmetic dentistry that really makes a difference.
Porcelain Crowns: A variation on the porcelain veneer, but basically used when more tooth structure has been damaged by decay or trauma, porcelain crowns replace the visible “crown” of the tooth in the most cosmetic way.
A More Integrated Approach to Cosmetic Change
The Magic of Orthodontics: The “Original Smile Makeover” as we’ve called it, is the most, and may be the only effective means of correcting malocclusions (mal-bad, occlusion-bite) and teeth in poor position. Orthodontics is the specialty in dentistry concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of malocclusion. Using a variety of 21st century techniques, including traditional “braces,” clear aligners and more, orthodontics allows movement of teeth into correct and functional positions. This either improves cosmetics and function (your bite) by itself or lines the teeth up properly for restorative dental techniques discussed above.
Cosmetic Options for Replacing Missing Teeth
There is nothing more devastating to a smile than lost or missing teeth. There are multiple ways today to replace missing teeth both functionally (biting, chewing, speaking and laughing) as well as cosmetically.
Dental implants are perhaps today’s ultimate tooth replacement systems providing “stand alone” teeth, unconnected to other teeth. While a dental implant replaces the root of a tooth, the crown atop the implant (the tooth you see in your mouth) is an exact replica of a natural tooth. Therefore implants provide for cosmetic tooth replacements, emerging through the gum tissues just like natural teeth, and can be made to match the neighboring teeth exactly. You’d never know they’re not your own, then again — they are.
And In the End
We are always a bit perplexed when we see the dowdy “before” pictures right next to the great “after” ones. You know, the ones with the new hairdo, the cleanly shaven guy, and the girl with the fresh lipstick smile, but let’s face it — they do make a difference. These changes truly are cosmetic, and as we have illustrated dentistry can do its part. But the biggest part is not just how your smile looks, it’s how you feel when you show it. Even if you smile when you’re on the telephone, you will touch the person on the other end of the line.
And in the end…the love you take is equal to the love you make.