A new area of dentistry has emerged; COSMETIC DENTISTRY.
Cosmetic dentistry often crosses over into areas of dental work that are considered “functionally” necessary – such as crowns, bridges and implants.
But it can also include more readily apparent procedures like straightening and whitening of your teeth. The American Dental Association does not recognize the field
of cosmetic dentistry as a formal dental “specialty”, but make no mistake that dental patients are using cosmetic dentistry to look better and feel better
about their smiles more and more. Much like other anti-aging medical procedures – cosmetic dentistry can make you look more youthful!
You may think that orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry are similar in their goals, as both orthodontists and cosmetic dentists are specialists who can help you correct smile imperfections and allow your teeth to obtain the “perfect” appearance; but there are differences.
Orthodontics is a sector dentistry that focuses on the misalignment of the teeth and jaws. Besides how these misalignments can affect the way you look, they also can cause medical issues such as facial pain, TMJ, speech impairments, chronic headaches, and even throat and sinus pain.
An orthodontist generally applies braces or performs oral surgery to fix these mechanical problems.
A cosmetic dentist has an entire toolbox full of procedures to help make your mouth look better. A cosmetic dentist will have generally pursued graduate training in cosmetic dentistry after completing dental school.
Many times a patient might choose one procedure – or dental specialty – over the other using considerations like cost, or time frame. But this might not be the correct way to make this important decision. In a blog by Legacy Dental of Salt Lake City they point out why you need to speak openly and honestly with your trusted dental professional about your desired end-result goals versus what they can provide. “Oftentimes the reason a person needs braces is because the teeth are the wrong size for their jaw. If the teeth are too small for the jaw you get spaces. If the teeth are too large for the jaw you get crowding. When teeth are just too big or too small – and even if they are lined up correctly – they won’t look right…Veneers are facings that are placed on teeth to change their appearance. They are best used to correct discrepancies in size and color, and to a much lessor degree, minor misalignment of teeth.”
Some dental procedures used for smile aesthetics include:
INLAYS AND ONLAYS – often used to repair decayed and cracked teeth – but they can also be used for “cosmetic” reasons.
VENEERS – custom-made, very thin laminates of porcelain that bond directly to the tooth’s surface. They can be used to get a
brilliant white smile, or fill unwanted gaps between teeth, etc.
INVISALINE – this alternative to traditional metal braces is used to straighten teeth and improve bite They are clear plastic
trays that can easily and quickly improve spacing, crowding and overlapping teeth. Invisalign treatment is generally faster and more cost effective for
cosmetic smile “training” than traditional braces.
WHITENING AND BLEACHING – there are many types of tooth whitening procedures/kits/toothpastes/strips/mouthwashes/ etc. Some are done in the dental chair by
trained professionals – some can be performed at home. Talk to your dental professional about what’s right for you and know this…not everyone’s teeth can be “perfectly” white. Genetics that provide tooth color play a big part. (But remember…there’s always veneers!)
BONDING – a process where dental composite resembling the tooth’s enamel is applied to the tooth’s surface and sculpted into a more desirable
shape and then polished. Bonding is often used to mask tooth size discrepancy or repair chips.
TOOTH-COLORED FILLINGS – made of composite resins and porcelains to create an “invisible” filling that is safe for the tooth and effective at preventing further tooth decay.
IMPLANTS – provide a permanent solutions to missing teeth. A post (like a tooth root)tis surgically positioned and the dentist mounts a replacement tooth into that area. An implant doesn’t come loose like dentures often can. Dental implants also benefit general oral health because they do not have to be anchored to other teeth, like bridges.
DENTURES – know that a cosmetic dentist will take those extra steps needed to ensure that dentures look just like a patient’s natural teeth. Dentures are more affordable than implants if multiple teeth are missing.
Regardless of what you feel is missing in your smile, there’s a cosmetic procedure sure to help you fill in the gap, (no pun intended!) Remember…Life IS better when you smile!