Cosmetic dentistry is a bit different from regular family dentistry–although many “regular” dentists do offer some cosmetic treatments as well. Cosmetic dentistry is best defined as the branch of dentistry focused on treating and improving the appearance of the teeth, gums, or bite. The treatments involved in doing so can take many forms, from a simple whitening to a complex surgical procedure.
While there are many such treatments that could be considered cosmetic dentistry, and while each dentist has their own set of skills and training, there are a handful of common cosmetic treatments that most cosmetic dentists offer:
- Inlays and Onlays are a commonly used means of tooth decay or damage that’s too big for a filling–indeed, they’re often referred to as indirect fillings. Made by a dental lab to the specifications provided by your dentist, inlays and onlays attach directly to the surface of the damaged area to cover the damage and prevent further decay. While not as strong as a natural tooth, they’re an easy and effective way of addressing moderate to serious decay and damage.
- Composite Bonding is another means to replace or repair the damage, this time from a broken or chipped tooth. A malleable material, colored to match your natural teeth, is shaped to replace the broken or chipped portion It’s a bit like sculpting in clay, and then when the right shape is achieved the results are hardened using a special UV light. After that, the repair is treated like any other tooth, with regular brushing and flossing needed as always. Composite bonding repairs aren’t as strong as natural teeth, but they can last a lifetime with the proper care.
- Dental Veneers are a popular means of addressing misshapen or mis-spaced teeth. As the name suggests, a veneer is a thin layer of dental porcelain, formed into the desired shape, and then attached to the front of the tooth in question with a powerful dental adhesive. Sometimes veneers require that the enamel of the natural tooth be reshaped to take the veneer, making the veneer a permanent feature. Properly cared for, however, dental veneers can last a lifetime.
- Teeth Whitening is probably the most common cosmetic dental procedure and one most dentists offer in-house. A chemical bleaching agent is applied to the teeth and used to restore whiteness and shine, giving the smile a health and natural brilliance. Generally speaking, teeth whitening is an easy procedure with minimal discomfort to the patient, which may explain in part its popularity.
- Dental Implants are used to replace lost teeth or teeth that are so damaged or decayed that they must be removed. It’s a fairly complicated procedure, involving multiple office visits. A titanium base is implanted in the jaw where the missing tooth would be. Once that is allowed to heal fully, a prosthetic tooth-shaped and colored to look like the natural tooth it replaced is mounted to the base. Once in place, a dental implant functions just like a natural tooth would, and should last a lifetime.
While not all treatments are suitable for all patients, your cosmetic dentist does have a variety of techniques and tools they can use either alone or in combination to address most cosmetic problems. It’s important to bear in mind that cosmetic dentistry is about more than vanity. Your smile is a big part of your emotional and physical health, and having a healthy-looking bright set of teeth can do a lot to make your world a better place. Get in touch today and let’s explore what cosmetic dentistry can do for you–you may be surprised by the results!