A bright and beautiful smile can give your confidence a boost. Your general dentist can perform a variety of cosmetic procedures to help you improve the look of your smile. Learn more about the cosmetic dentistry procedures that your dentist provides today!
What is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry refers to any dental work that improves the appearance of a person’s teeth, gums, or bite.
What are some common cosmetic procedures?
Common cosmetic procedures include bleaching, bonding, contouring and reshaping, crowns, and veneers.
Bleaching is a chemical procedure used to whiten teeth, which often become discolored over time. Some people have their teeth bleached to remove stains, while others simply want a brighter smile. Your dentist may perform bleaching in the office or provide you with an at-home bleaching kit to be used under his or her supervision.
Bonding is the process of using a composite resin to fill in gaps between teeth or to whiten them. Bonding also may be used to correct chipped teeth or minor decay. The bonding procedure may be completed in a single office visit, and the results often last for several years, although some bonding resins are more susceptible to staining or chipping than other restoration materials.
Contouring and reshaping
Often combined with bonding, contouring and reshaping procedures are used to correct crooked, chipped, irregularly shaped, or overlapping teeth. Contouring and reshaping procedures can alter the teeth’s length, shape, or position; contouring also can be used to improve bite. Contouring and reshaping procedures may be completed in a single visit and are ideal for patients with normal, healthy teeth who want subtle changes to their smiles.
Also known as caps, crowns are placed over a tooth to create a normal appearance. Crowns can be used to restore fractured, misshapen, or discolored teeth, or those with significant structure loss. Crowns have a longer life expectancy than other cosmetic restorations, but they also are more expensive and time-consuming to place, requiring more than one office visit. Crowns are generally used in cases in which other cosmetic procedures would not be effective.
Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic placed over the front of teeth to change their color or shape. In addition to improving teeth with uneven surfaces, veneers can be used to correct chipped, discolored, oddly shaped, unevenly spaced, or crooked teeth. Placement of veneers often requires more than one office visit, but they are less expensive than crowns and have better color stability and a longer life expectancy than bonding restorations. Sometimes a veneer might chip or fracture. But for many people the results are more than worth it.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth. They are a good choice for people who prefer that their fillings look more natural.
It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than it does for a metal filling. That’s because composite fillings require the tooth be kept clean and dry while the cavity is being filled. Tooth-colored fillings are now used more often than amalgam (silver) fillings due to their cosmetic appeal, and reduced long term stress on teeth.
Ultimately, the best dental filling is no dental filling. Prevention is the best medicine. You can dramatically decrease your risk of cavities and other dental diseases simply by:
- brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- flossing daily
- eating a balanced diet
- visiting the dentist regularly.