Everyone wants teeth that look beautiful and natural. But, when breaks, chips, and discolorations happen, then a dentist is what you need.
But, what kind of dentist do you need? A regular dentist often covers anything that is not orthodontics. They can do the cosmetic parts of tooth work. But often they will refer you to a specialist. There is a difference between general and cosmetic dentistry.
So, what is cosmetic dentistry or aesthetic dentistry? It makes your teeth beautiful. There are several types of cosmetic dentistry. These services include implants, replacement fillings, straightening, and generally any repair that returns teeth to a natural and beautiful state. The most advanced cosmetic dentistry allows the worse cases of breakage and discoloration (even loss of teeth) to return to a perfect smile.
Someone should consider cosmetic dentistry if they have specific issues that lower the quality of their teeth or smile. Surprisingly, even fillings and repairs can be considered cosmetic. There is a difference between cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry. Restorations will fix the function of your teeth, even if the result isn’t aesthetically perfect. What a cosmetic dentist does is the next step. Both will repair a problem, but what the cosmetic dentist does is make the repair look good. A subtle difference, but an important one – especially when it comes to insurance coverage.
Generally, dentists will learn both, starting with the restorations. Then, they are able to continue through to the cosmetic side. In many parts of the world, this is a significant difference and you will want to talk to the dentist about the work and results. In the US, nearly all dentists are cosmetically trained.
We don’t want you to feel bad about your teeth. Unless there is a problem that affects your ability to eat or smile, variations, gaps, and crookedness can be beautiful, too. You don’t need to fix your teeth just because some celebrities have had cosmetic dentistry. We have an awesome article here about crooked teeth, with some pictures of those crooked teeth.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures
The fact is most cosmetic dentistry procedures you are already familiar with. Here, we will list a few procedures, their benefits, and why people choose a certain procedure. You should talk to a dentist or orthodontist before making any decisions on your oral health and nothing here will supersede what your dentist says. We have links to more detailed articles that will help you decide if this is right for you.
As special as cosmetic dentistry is, it will not replace receding gums or the need for braces. In some cause, you may need cosmetic dental surgery and treatment if the problem is into the gum line. Because of some of the problems associated with root canals recently, there is an emerging trend to not perform a root canal, but to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant due to possible bacteria contamination (which occurs much more frequently than they will tell you).
Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry can help you without the pain and problems of severe procedures.
Cosmetic Dental Fillings
Of all of the cosmetic dental repairs, fillings are the most common. They are also called Inlays or Overlays. Unless the tooth is damaged beyond repair, a dentist will remove the damaged part (drill out a cavity) and fill in the missing part with a man-made material. In the past, mercury amalgam fillings were common, and before that was gold. Today, advanced porcelain inlays and overlays are used that look like the natural tooth. Inlays are suspected of not lasting as long but are much safer. Be sure to ask your dentist what type of filling they are using.
Cosmetic Dental Bonding
This procedure is very similar to fillings in that it uses an inlay between healthy teeth to fill in gaps. It is often used in cosmetic dentistry for the front teeth. This part of cosmetic dentistry makes teeth bigger. When closing the gaps, cosmetic dentistry makes the teeth look full and complete. It can help reduce lisping, whistling, and may reduce gum and tooth problems caused by food getting stuck in your teeth. Bonding in cosmetic dentistry can be done with or without veneers.
Cosmetic Dental Implants
Implants are becoming a safe and affordable alternative to many dental procedures. The implants today are able to match to your previous tooth color and added to appear completely natural. Some implants are attached to the surrounding teeth and other are implanted in the gums.
Cosmetic dentures are a tooth replacement that covers several teeth to the whole mouth. Gone are the days of bulky and uncomfortable additions. New dentures are able to be molded to your existing teeth and gums and fit so seamlessly even you hardly notice they are there.
Since dentures and certain implants are removable, you do need to be vigilant with cleaning.
Cosmetic Dentistry Veneers
Veneers are often used in conjunction with bonding in order to improve the appearance of the tooth. It uses a thin cover for the front of the tooth and this is attached directly to the tooth it covers.
But, as dentists realized the benefits of veneers, they have begun to use veneers in various other applications. A veneer can protect a tooth that is cracking, but not yet at a stage of causing problems. Comparing cosmetic dentistry bonding versus veneers is a matter of building new structures or covering them.
Another fascinating application is using veneers to help receding gum lines. In some cases, veneers can be used to cover the aspects of gum recession. But, there are a few dentists applying tissue grafting to help regrow gum tissue and the veneers help create a stable growth area that encourages new tissues. Veneers can also help reduce tooth sensitivity, especially while the gums are being healed.
Cosmetic Dental Crowns
A crown is a cosmetic tooth cover the entire tooth. Crowns are important when there is extensive damage or a large cavity. They are also used over root canals, although the whole procedure is falling in popularity.
Some of the crowns in cosmetic dentistry are used for tooth reshaping in the larger back teeth. These teeth are more susceptible to cavities and plaque because they can’t be seen easily and brushing is more challenging. In addition, because we grind food with our back teeth, the surfaces can become flattened, making chewing harder. A crown will help repair that damage.
Cosmetic Dentistry for Crooked Teeth
Very few people have perfect teeth and those who do often will have had braces. Cosmetic dentistry is not often used for teeth straightening. This requires surgery or braces. Cosmetic dentistry is not used for overbites or underbites, as this is a jaw problem.
There are few cosmetic dentistry procedures that will keep you without braces, however.
When it comes to the gaps in front teeth, cosmetic dentistry will bond to fill in the gap. It is often a permanent and easy fix. However, if the gap is too big, braces will be recommended.
Twisted or crooked teeth can be fixed with retainers. Cosmetic dentistry created the need for Invisalign and shaping retainer industry. These retainers gently realign smaller issues without the need for braces. Be sure to talk to your dentist able what will work for you.
Cosmetic Dentistry Teeth Whitening
In the past 20 years in the US, tooth whitening has become normal and expected. In the rest of the world, whitening is unusual.
There are several types of whitening procedures, from UV light to harsh chemicals. The common and less expensive kits * use chlorine, peroxide, and/or baking soda. We do not recommend you try using these harsh chemicals at home without talking to a dentist.
In the past, a simple way to whiten teeth was to use a baking soda based toothpaste * and a vinegar rinse. Others have used activated charcoal *. Be sure to talk to your dentist before trying either of these methods.
How to Find a Cosmetic Dentist
Most dentists don’t advertise. The good ones have a wonderful word of mouth reputation. But, if you are new to an area, check out your local sports facilities. Generally, they will have information on dentists that parents and athletes use. Athletic types generally need a dentist more often because of the nature of some sports.
In the US, there are many cosmetic dentistry options. Dentists are very popular. In most developed parts of the world, this is true as well. There are many emerging dental clinics in rural areas and World Wide Smiles Inc. supports traveling dentists that go into impoverished and distant areas to provide low-cost and free services.
If you want to look into it, good dentists will be part of the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry (in the US). Nearly all countries will have an oversight organization that you can verify the integrity of the dentists you are about to visit. In areas with high internet use, search out your dentist online and see their reviews.
Generally, cosmetic dentistry comes in moderately expensive. It is very difficult to find free cosmetic dentistry, although there are certain cosmetic dentistry grants and programs that could lower the cost of procedures. They differ wildly in various areas, so you will need to contact your government’s service office to know what is available in your area.
Often, single dentists will not offer free services, but larger cosmetic dentistry centers and dentistry schools may offer low-cost and free services. Many dentists are also joining programs where you can finance your cosmetic dentistry. This is generally open to everyone.
You can check out other options in this article about DentalPlans.com.
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