When it comes to maintaining your oral health, dentist visits once every six months is recommended by the Australian Dental Association. This will help keep your mouth and teeth disease free, and in overall good health. But what if you don't like the colour or position of your teeth and want to improve your smile? For that, you would visit a cosmetic dentist. A cosmetic dentist's primary job is improving the aesthetics of your smile. This could include treatments, which would make changes to tooth alignment, tooth colour, position, and size.
Trends in Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way since American-born dentist Newell Sill Jenkins first introduced it in the 1800s. Back then it was an obscure practice that was shunned by many in the field of dentistry.
However, today cosmetic dentistry is a very popular option amongst all age groups and is recognised as a legitimate and much needed practice in the world of dentistry.
Every year thousands of people's confidence is restored by cosmetic dentistry procedures, and with materials and techniques improving yearly, the smile makeovers produced by cosmetic dentists are becoming more natural as time goes on.
Another great trend in the field of cosmetic dentistry is an overall reduction in patient recovery times. This is being enhanced by the use of special tools like lasers and techniques that help preserve large amounts of the natural tooth structure.
Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments
Inlays and Onlays: Crafted in a dental laboratory from porcelain or composite material before being bonded to your tooth, inlays and onlays provide a filling to a tooth that is too decayed or damaged to support a direct restoration such as amalgam or composite.
Composite Bonding: One of the simplest and least expensive cosmetic dental procedures available. Composite bonding is when the dental material known as a composite resin is shaped and moulded on your teeth to give you a straight white smile. It's mainly used to treat minor chipped teeth, gaps, and staining in fillings and teeth. The procedure is fast and simple and can be completed in one dentist appointment.
Teeth Whitening: The most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure year after year, teeth whitening can vastly improve the look of your smile.
Dental Veneers: Dental veneers are custom-made from porcelain or resin composite and are meant to change the colour, shape, size, or length of your teeth's appearance once bonded in place. You can either receive veneers crafted from porcelain or composite resin. Porcelain veneers are created in a dental laboratory from a mould of your teeth. Composite resin veneers are bonded and sculpted on your teeth in the dentist office, usually in a single visit.
Dental Crowns: Also referred to as caps, a dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over your tooth to restore its natural appearance. They are used for the protection of a weak tooth that has suffered extensive decay or to hold a fractured tooth together. A dental crown can also restore a tooth that has been broken and support a tooth that has a large filling but not enough natural tooth left to hold the filling firmly. Crowns are made of several different materials each with its own benefits and price range. The materials available for crowns are stainless steel, metals like gold alloy and nickel, porcelain fused to metal, all resin, all-ceramic, or all porcelain. Dental crowns tend to be expensive so dentist usually only recommend them when other procedures are unlikely to produce satisfactory results. With proper care, dental crowns last for many years.
Bridges: Dental bridges commonly referred to as partials are used to bridge the gap created by missing teeth. Bridges are made of alloy, porcelain, gold, or a combination. They feature two or more crowns that will replace the missing teeth. A dental bridge is supported by your natural teeth so any damage or decay of surrounding teeth can cause your bridge to fail and will need to be addressed. Bridges are permanent and can only be removed by your dentist.
Dental implants: A dental implant is a surgical procedure that involves drilling into your gums and implanting a fake root made of titanium into your jawbone. This will provide strong support for a permanent artificial tooth or teeth.
Smile Makeover: A smile makeover is when you receive one or more cosmetic procedures to improve your smile. A combination of veneers, implants, whitening, or any of the other procedures listed above would be considered a smile makeover.
Full mouth Reconstruction: Also commonly referred to as full mouth restoration. This procedure focuses not only on the aesthetics of your smile but also the function of your jaw, and it's supporting structures. Things like your bite, muscles, and bone structure are analysed, and if corrective procedures are needed, they are recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions - Cosmetic Dentistry
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
Discoloration of the teeth can stem from many things. Poor dental hygiene, coffee or tobacco stains, side effects from certain medications, and poor genetics. However, the most frequent cause of tooth discoloration is aging. This is 100% normal. As you age your tooth enamel weakens and your teeth begin to take on a duller appearance. Teeth whitening and veneers are the solutions for this common problem.
What are the Side Effects of Teeth Whitening?
The primary side effect of teeth whitening is mild tooth sensitivity for a short time after the procedure. However, your dentist will take precautions to minimize the side effects. Typically during the whitening procedure, a protective gel or small rubber shield will be used to block the bleaching agent from damaging the gums. Safety and effectiveness of tooth whitening bleaching agents have been approved by The Australian Dental Association.
Does Teeth Whitening Work for Everyone?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. If discoloration is too severe teeth whitening will have minimal effect. Instead, a person with extreme discoloration should opt for veneers or composite bonding to regain their natural white smile.
What Should I Consider Before Receiving Dental Veneers?
Before receiving veneers, your dentist will discuss the option with you and give their recommendation. However, there are a few things you should personally consider.
What's your goal for dental veneers? Are your teeth severely stained? Most veneers are thin as paper and translucent so severely discoloured teeth beneath may show through. In that case, your dentist may likely attempt tooth whitening before applying the veneers.
What are the Indicators That a Cosmetic Dentist is Good or Bad?
The first thing to look for is if the dentist has been trained to perform the cosmetic procedure you're interested in receiving. Not all cosmetic dentists are created equal, and many haven't been trained in every procedure they advertise.
The next thing to gauge is the competence of any specialist that will be assisting your dentist in performing and preparing your procedure. For the planning and execution of many cosmetic dentistry procedures lab techs, orthodontist, and endodontics amongst others will provide assistance to your dentist.
The next step is to look over before and after photos of previous clients to see if you like the results the cosmetic dentist has achieved in the past.
Last but not least make sure the dentist has the proper certifications. This ensures that they have extensive education in cosmetic restorations.
What Are My Options for Missing Teeth?
The options that are available are dentures (although not considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure), a dental bridge, or dental implants. However, the first step would be to have your mouth evaluated by a dentist.
Are Veneers My Only Option If I Want To Improve My Smile?
No. There are many options available. Teeth whitening, crowns, composite bonding, etc. The first step is to get an examination by your dentist to determine what procedure best fits your situation.