Cosmetic Dentistry 1. What is cosmetic dentistry? Cosmetic dentistry is simply this – taking steps to help your smile look its best. Here are the most common procedures available in cosmetic dentistry today: a. Tooth whitening - The most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure in the world today is tooth bleaching. Most everyone is a candidate regardless of age and it can be done at home over a couple of weeks or in the office in one to two hours. b. Tooth bonding and contouring – This can dramatically enhance a smile in a conservative way. If you have small chips, gaps or uneven teeth, the teeth can be slightly reshaped and tooth-colored bonding material can be applied to your teeth. No numbing is usually required for this procedure, and it can be done in one appointment. c. Braces – This is also a relatively conservative approach to cosmetic dentistry, but the treatment time involves months or years. Invisalign (clear) braces have become a mainstream way to treat most cases, but sometimes traditional bands and brackets are required. Many adults are choosing braces for smile enhancement these days – it’s not just for teenagers anymore! d. Gingival contouring – If your gum tissue has become overgrown or uneven, talk to your dentist about this procedure. People with high smile lines, uneven gums, and otherwise beautiful teeth should consider gum contouring, otherwise known as periodontal plastic surgery. e. Veneers – When most people talk about “cosmetic dentistry” they are talking about porcelain veneers. Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are bonded to the front of teeth. They are used to correct chips, spaces, and teeth that may be resistant to bleaching. Depending on your situation, your teeth may need to be prepped for the best results. Lumineers, Vivaneers or Durathin veneers are a type of veneer that is remarkable. They are contact-lens thin - so thin that in many situations, they can be done without prepping the teeth. Veneers can enhance a single tooth or can be used to complete a total smile makeover. Although most Hollywood stars have perfect smiles thanks to porcelain veneers, they are not just for Hollywood anymore. Many adults in mainstream America choose to get veneers for the dramatic results that can be realized in just two appointments. f. Crowns – The same results as veneers are achieved, but crowns are chosen when there is more of a breakdown of the teeth due to decay or wear. All-porcelain crowns tend to be more cosmetic in nature than porcelain fused-to-metal crowns, so be sure to discuss your type of crown with your dentist. 2. How important is your smile? Smiles are usually the first thing we notice about each other. Smiles can tell us a lot about someone. Smiles can show health, happiness and confidence or sadness and embarrassment if you are trying to hide your teeth. People with healthy, exuberant smiles tend to be more successful in their careers and have a higher earning potential. If you are not feeling confident about your smile, it can hold you back from relationships and opportunities. It’s not all about the teeth – it’s about how you feel about your teeth. If you are feeling self-conscious about your teeth, I urge you to talk to your dentist. There are so many options available today to enhance your smile that may not have been available to you even just a few short years ago. 3. Who is a good candidate for cosmetic dentistry? Most everyone can benefit from cosmetic dentistry procedures. Which type of cosmetic dentistry is best for you is best decided by you and your dentist. The condition of your teeth (decay, presence of gum disease, tooth wear and tear, and spacing) and also your desires will help determine which route to take. Cosmetic dentistry always looks better on a healthy smile, so you should start with a routine check-up and teeth cleaning. Be sure to tell your dentist you want a cosmetic dentistry consultation. Dentists know that most everyone’s smile can be enhanced with cosmetic dentistry, but they want to talk about your options when you are ready to do so. Helping patients achieve a smile they can be proud of is what dentists love most about their job. 4. Is cosmetic dentistry worth the time and the cost? Can you really put a price on confidence and life opportunities? Patients don’t regret improving their smile. They only regret that they waited so long to do it. 5. How long will my new smile last? Whitening should be touched up every few months. Bonding should be touched up every few years due to wear and staining. Results achieved from braces last as long as you are wearing retainers. Porcelain veneers and crowns are meant to last a lifetime. It is important that you see your dentist regularly to prevent decay and damage to your new restorations, especially if you are prone to decay or if you tend to grind your teeth. 6. How quickly will I be able to complete my cosmetic dentistry treatment? That depends on which route you take. Whitening will take anywhere from one hour to two weeks. Bonding will take one appointment. Porcelain veneers and crowns will take at a minimum two appointments. Braces do take some time, but keep in mind that the results can be dramatic and last a lifetime.