You may have heard the term cosmetic dentistry before, either in your dentist's office or outside of it. But what is cosmetic dentistry and how does it compare to the regular cleaning and care you usually get from your dentist? Well in essence every dentist specializes in cosmetic dentistry to some degree, which is essentially the procedures and treatments designed to improve the appearance of your smile and teeth. Some of us may assume cosmetic dentistry is something that only happens in Hollywood and is used by the "stars." However this is not true, dentists everywhere are capable of administering most cosmetic procedures today. Let's learn more about cosmetic dentistry and how it might apply to you.
Basic Care Comes First
While some patients may come into the office with cosmetic procedures at the forefront of their mind, dentists actually won't perform most cosmetic procedures until they are confident that the basic dental cleaning and maintenance issues are covered. To put it another way, there is no sense in worrying primarily about the appearance of your teeth when there are other lingering issues like cavities to be addressed. This doesn't mean that dentists aren't eager to perform cosmetic procedures for their patients, but rather they just want to ensure the basics are covered first. With those issues addressed, you can then talk to your dentist about cosmetic issues.
What Cosmetic Dentistry Can Do For You
Cosmetic dentistry can help achieve a better smile, but first thing is first, you need to decide on your individual goals and how extensive you want the procedures to be. Treatment options range from quick in-office procedures to those that involve minor dental surgery. Better yet, the cost of cosmetic procedures has fallen steadily over the years, so a whole host of options are available to every patient. This said, your dentist can make recommendations as to proper treatment, but it's up to you to decide if it's right for you.
Deciding Upon Your Goals
As we just mentioned, the first step in evaluating cosmetic dentistry is deciding upon your individual "smile goals." While some patients are happy fixing a couple imperfections that bother them, others may want a more comprehensive makeover. The thing with cosmetic dentistry is it is truly up to you what you want to do. When you meet with your dentist, be sure to ask questions so you understand each procedure and both the positives and potential drawbacks of it. What one patient chooses may not apply to your goals, so don't be afraid to select only those that meet your desired outcome and budget.
Once you have your goals in place, your dentist can perform one or more of these distinct procedures to meet your smile goals. Here are several of the most popular treatment options:
Teeth whitening is essentially the most-basic cosmetic procedure available to patients, and it is pretty self-explanatory. Teeth whitening procedures seek to whiten the appearance of teeth by utilizing bleaching agents to remove surface stains. While there are over the counter teeth whitening options available, we recommend opting for in-office treatments as they are more effective and meet your needs for teeth whitening faster. Your dentist can also protect your gums from irritation during the whitening process.
While teeth whitening treatments will reduce existing surface stains, veneers will improve your smile in a various different ways. Veneers are essentially white ceramic covers that are placed on the front of your teeth to improve overall tooth appearance. Veneers can correct crooked or damaged teeth, and they look extremely realistic so no one will know that they are in place. Veneers are glued onto the front of existing teeth, and they require some preparation of the tooth before they can be glued into place. Because of this, they are considered a semi-permanent to permanent cosmetic procedure.
While veneers replace damaged or unsightly portions of your smile, tooth bonding procedures utilize a compound similar to tooth enamel to repair damaged areas of a tooth. This compound is glued or "bonded" to the teeth to repair cracks, stained areas or other minor imperfections. While veneers replace the complete front-facing appearance of the tooth, bonding procedures can alter or repair only portions of the tooth, so this can be a less-invasive option.
Some patients come into the office worried about a disproportionate gum line which makes their smile seem uneven. A gum removal or gum contouring procedure is aimed at evening your gums back out and/or exposing more of the tooth to create an even smile. This process does require some minor surgery, and it is important to talk with your dentist about risks before deciding upon it.
While the previous cosmetic procedures offer simpler or less-invasive treatment options, sometimes the damage or appearance of a tooth requires more substantial attention. While crowns can help shape up teeth with an undesirable appearance, dental implants offer the most complete option for smile improvement. Of course, dental implants also require the most work and are more expensive than the previously-listed options. This said, dental implants completely replace the existing tooth and are shaped to resemble a healthy and properly-proportioned tooth. While dental implants require thorough thought and budgeting for most patients, they will no doubt improve your smile if tooth extraction is inevitable in your dental health outlook.
Today there are a wide range of options available in cosmetic dentistry, and most dentists are able to perform them without you ever having to leave the office to see a specialist. If you're interested in some cosmetic procedures to improve your smile, the first step is to meet with your dentist to discuss options. Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry is well experienced in cosmetic procedures, and we would be happy to walk you through the different options that will help improve your smile. Contact us today to learn more.