A Guide to Cosmetic Dentistry
When it comes to your teeth, you have a lot of different choices in the type of dentist you visit. Family dentists specialize in treating children’s teeth, spending several years after graduating from dental school to learn the intricacies of this specialized field. General dentistry provides the most common types of oral care in adults, including filling cavities; repairing damaged or corroded teeth with crowns, bridges and other dental appliances; and promoting healthy oral care such as regular teeth cleaning, brushing and flossing. Orthodontics specializes in straightening teeth that are crooked or misshapen using braces and other devices. But what about cosmetic dentistry? What type of things are covered in this area of expertise?
What Cosmetic Dentistry Is
Dentists who specialize in cosmetic dentistry provide their patients with the brightest smiles and the straightest teeth. Once the exclusive domain of movie stars and professional athletes, today people from every walk of life seek out the services of cosmetic dentists.
Cosmetic dentistry is a wide-ranging term that encompasses many different types of treatments, including everything from teeth whitening to closing gaps between teeth and even replacing teeth altogether. Cosmetic dentists have a very deep bag of tricks from which to choose when it comes to making your smile look brighter and perfect.
One of the most common services provided by cosmetic dentists today is teeth whitening. This is when stains and other discolorations are removed from teeth using chemical agents and professional procedures.
Many of the substances we consume – such as coffee and tea, soda, red wine, and cigarette smoke – can leave a stain on teeth that can build up over time. Even taking certain types of prescription medications can affect the color of your teeth. When conducting a teeth whitening procedure, a cosmetic dentist will generally apply a bleach solution to your teeth. This solution will break down the compounds that are staining your teeth while leaving the outside enamel intact. The cosmetic dentist will then use a very bright light to remove the gel from your teeth, along with most – if not all – of the stains.
While this is generally an in-office procedure, in some instances a cosmetic dentist will give you a custom-made mouthpiece that you can wear at home. This mouthpiece holds a less powerful version of the whitening gel that goes to work more slowly over a long period of time to remove stains from your teeth. This process can take as long as two to four weeks to complete.
Another common cosmetic dentistry treatment is bonding. This is when bonding materials are used to fill spaces in between teeth and to repair chipped, broken, stained or cracked teeth. Bonding also is sometimes used to fill smaller cavities or to help protect an exposed nerve root. Bond typically is something a cosmetic dentist can perform during a single office visit. Materials that match the color of your other teeth are bonded to the affected area using a permanent bonding solution.
Bonding typically will last for at least several years, but it can often become just as stained as your other teeth by the things you eat, drink and smoke. Bonded surfaces also can wear down at the same rate or even faster than actual teeth.
Have you ever seen a Hollywood movie star’s electric smile on the big screen and wondered how they were ever able to achieve that megawatt brightness? In many cases, it’s from veneers. Veneers are a cosmetic dentistry procedure in which custom-made shells made of porcelain or plastic are glued to the front of the teeth in order to give them the perfect color and shape.
Unlike bonding, veneers can last a lifetime and can provide the patient with an incredibly perfect smile. Veneers typically cost less than crowns and are commonly used for people who have spaces between their teeth, who have chipped or worn teeth, who have teeth that are permanently or irreparably stained, have teeth that are misshapen or have crooked teeth.
Before applying the veneers, the cosmetic dentist will make an impression of your tooth using a type of special dental clay. Then the area will be buffed and a special cement will be firmly applied to hold the veneer in place. In some instances, a highly focused beam of light is used to harden the cement so that the veneer bonds to the tooth more tightly.
Cosmetic dentists are not just for the famous and super rich anymore. Today, people from all walks of life us the services of cosmetic dentistry to improve their smiles and make themselves more attractive. When you are confident of your smile, you tend to use it more often. So people who have benefitted from the services of cosmetic dentist often lead happier, more fulfilled lives because they like what they see in the mirror.