In years past, the smile you were born with was the smile you were stuck with for life– misaligned teeth and all. If, along the way, your teeth became discolored, chipped, or even dislodged, you could prepare yourself for years of hiding your imperfect smile. Fortunately, those days are long gone; today, cosmetic dentistry is responsible for improving the smiles of millions of people around the world. From closing gaps between teeth to whitening stained teeth, dentists now have several tools and techniques available to give you the smile you’ve always wanted.
Types of cosmetic dentistry procedures
There are a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures available today. Determining which option is best for you depends largely on what concerns you most about your smile. Some of the most common cosmetic dentistry procedures include:
- Whitening. It’s not uncommon for teeth to become stained or discolored over the years, due to smoking or consuming certain foods and drinks known to stain. Fortunately, your dentist can restore your teeth to a sparkling white through either at-home or in-office teeth whitening. Most often, your dentist will bleach your teeth using a custom-made mouth tray; this ensures that your teeth are exposed to the right amount of whitening solution. In-office whitening can typically be completed in one or two sessions; at-home whitening often takes a few weeks.
- Crowns. For teeth that are discolored, misshapen, cracked, or worn down, crowns are sometimes used to cover the affected areas. Crowns– otherwise known as caps– cover the entire tooth, resulting in a tooth that has a normal shape and appearance. Crowns have other uses, too; they can cover large fillings, cover teeth that have had root canal treatments, and help support dental bridges.
- Veneers. Typically made of porcelain, veneers are an excellent option for patients whose teeth are chipped, cracked, stained, poorly spaced, or otherwise worn down. Veneers– which are essentially custom shells for the teeth– are durable and have an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
- Bonding. If you have undesirable spaces between your teeth– or even chipped or cracked teeth– bonding might be a good solution for you. Bonding is a relatively simple procedure and can typically be completed in a single office visit. Your dentist will apply a solution to the affected tooth and then will use a tooth-colored material to correct the problem areas.
- Shaping. If your teeth are otherwise normal and healthy, your dentist might recommend shaping and contouring to correct crooked, overlapping, or chipped teeth. Enamel shaping involves removing or contouring enamel to change the length, shape, or position of teeth. Sometimes, shaping and contouring is combined with the bonding process.
- Bridges. For patients who are missing teeth, a bridge is sometimes a good cosmetic dentistry option. Bridges– which are akin to permanent, partial dentures– replace missing teeth with artificial teeth. The artificial teeth– often made of porcelain– are connected to the surrounding teeth, which are covered by crowns.
- Implants. Implants– which are titanium screws surgically implanted into the gums– are an excellent long-term solution for patients missing one or several teeth. Unlike bridges, implants do not use the surrounding teeth as anchors. Implants are also permanent, which typically makes them preferable to dentures. The implant process is lengthy and involved, beginning with a consultation, exam, and x-rays. The titanium screws are then surgically implanted and impressions of the jaws are taken. Based on the impressions, a model of the crowns or dentures are created and then placed. Follow-up exams are also standard with implant procedures.
It’s time to stop hiding your smile from the world! If you’ve been considering cosmetic dentistry to improve your smile, contact us today to learn how we can help.