Most dental procedures focus 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 their appearance. Cosmetic dental procedures might make it simpler to care for your teeth, but their main purpose is to enhance 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 needs, your dentist and orthodontist may work together to enhance your smile. However, 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.
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. 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 make you feel self-conscious, but thankfully, this is a problem your cosmetic dentist can address.
When you smile, do you feel like your teeth are too small for your mouth or gums? If the problem is excess gum tissue covering 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 also correct that problem.
Sometimes gaps between the teeth remain even after an orthodontist adjusts them with braces or Invisalign. Your teeth may be too narrow to fill out your dental arch. Your cosmetic dentist can make your teeth appear slightly wider, closing the gap without the need for additional orthodontic work.
When you first meet with your cosmetic dentist for a consultation, they will tell you about best procedures for attaining the smile you desire. In some cases, you may need only one of them. Other times, your cosmetic dentist may recommend a combination of several treatments to address various problems that are plaguing your smile. There are three cosmetic treatments that dentists use most often:
Stains and yellowing are perhaps the most common complaints among cosmetic dental patients. Professional teeth whitening is a procedure in which a dentist applies specialized bleach solutions to 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 address those issues before proceeding with this 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 to activate it. Then they repeat the process three times, and you leave with teeth that are up to 10 shades whiter.
The second approach is take-home whitening trays. For this procedure, your dentist makes a custom mold of your teeth and uses it to make trays that fit firmly around your teeth. Then, they will send you home with these trays and a specialized bleach solution. This method yields far better results than over-the-counter whitening kits because the bleaching agents your dentist provides are more durable and 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 the bonding begins.
The bonding process is very similar to having a cavity filled. Your dentist will numb your mouth with a local anesthetic, and then file down the tooth surface to ensure the composite adheres well. After that, they will use a unique, syringe-like device to apply the resin. It hardens quickly, and your dentist can shape it with a special 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. Your cosmetic dentist can make your veneers a natural shade if you want a more realistic look rather than a stark white smile.
The process of applying veneers quite simple. First, your dentist removes a thin layer of tooth enamel to ensure the porcelain veneers adhere firmly. Then, they make an impression of your teeth and send it to a lab. When your custom veneers arrive, your dentist fixes them to your teeth with special dental cement. Once your veneers are in 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 more stains, so you will need additional whitening procedures in the future. Veneers do not stain, so they keep your teeth looking whiter for longer.
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 expand your social circle, creating a happier and more balanced life.
Since these dental procedures are not generally necessary for your oral health, most insurance plans do not cover the cost. Many dentists offer financing options that allow you to pay 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 may be the most affordable choice long term.
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 cosmetic dentist can discuss your goals and explore the best treatment approaches to give you the smile you’ve always dreamed of.
Cosmetic dentistry is a professional oral care method that focuses on improving the appearance of your teeth. However, some cosmetic dentistry procedures also have restorative benefits.
No, cosmetic dentistry is not permanent, but maintaining good oral care can improve its long-lasting effects.
Consider the following common signs:
Cosmetic dentistry costs vary widely. In-office teeth whitening and over-the-counter whiteners range from $450 to $650 and $4 to $100, respectively.