Cosmetic dentistry includes an assortment of dental procedures used to restore the look and functionality of the teeth as well as provide a better smile and healthier mouth. Patients who have lost a tooth or have cracked, broken, crooked, worn down or discolored teeth can usually benefit from some type of cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry treats a wide range of issues so it’s important to know what makes a patient an ideal candidate for each procedure.
As we grow older, the enamel on the teeth becomes thin and tiny cracks allow stains to set in. The teeth can become dull, yellowed and stained. It’s not just caffeinated products, tobacco and red wine that stain the teeth. Dark berries, excessive fluoride use and certain medications can also tarnish the teeth. There are several techniques for making teeth whiter such as professional cleaning, whitening toothpastes, whitening gels or strips and bleaching. Yet, not all whitening techniques work for all stains. The best candidates for teeth whitening include people with:
- A yellow tone to their teeth
- Healthy gums and no fillings (especially in the front)
Whitening may not be appropriate for someone with dental bonding, crowns or caps on the front teeth. These restorative treatments do not whiten and can leave the patient with uneven shades of color. Patients who have sensitive teeth or gums, receding gums or defective restorations are not good candidates for teeth whitening as the chemical solution can irritate the root of the tooth.
Good dental bonding candidates include:
- Anyone with minor aesthetic flaws on the front teeth such as cracks, chips, discoloration, gapped teeth and mildly crooked or misshapen teeth.
- Non-smokers with their teeth and gums in good general health
The composite resin material used for dental bonding is the same bonding material used to fill cavities within the teeth. The bonding material will be colored to match the shade of the patient’s natural teeth. Dental bonding is more affordable than other restorative procedures and requires no alteration to the natural tooth structure.
Tooth recontouring is a procedure where a small quantity of the tooth’s enamel is removed in order to alter the shape, length or surface of the tooth. Ideal recontouring patients are those looking to improve their appearance by
- Fixing small chips
- Smoothing bulges or pits in a tooth’s enamel
- Adjusting the length of the canine teeth
While recontouring can benefit patients with these minor issues, it is not recommended for patients who have substantial imperfections such as large chips or deep fractures.
Invisible braces can be used to align the teeth and jaw while creating a more confident smile as well as preventing potential health problems. Misaligned teeth can lead to tooth decay, cavities, chewing issues, nutritional deficiencies and gum or heart disease. Ideal candidates include people with:
- Crowded teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Gum disease
Porcelain Veneers and Crowns
Porcelain veneers and crowns can be used to cover and correct almost any imperfection concerning the front teeth. The porcelain restoration can be adhered to the front surface of the teeth to cover dark internal staining or they can provide complete tooth coverage to conceal surface damage. Ideal patients for porcelain veneers and crowns include people with:
- Poorly aligned teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Severely discolored teeth
- Destabilized front teeth
The patient must have sufficient enamel for the veneers to bond with since a small portion of the natural enamel will be removed in order to make room for the porcelain. The patient should also have moderately straight teeth as severe misalignment can place pressure on the teeth causing the porcelain to crack. Patients who clinch or grind their teeth or have poor oral hygiene are not good candidates for this procedure.
Dental implants can be used to replace lost teeth or teeth that require removal. The implant can preserve the facial profile by supporting the bone structure. In addition, implants can stabilize the bite, eliminate gaps and improve the patient’s smile. The ideal candidates for dental implants are:
- Adults healthy enough to withstand surgery
- Patients whose jawbone has stopped growing
Patients, who are smokers, have cancer, uncontrolled diabetes or periodontal diseases are not good candidates for dental implants due to the fact that the implant may not fuse to the bone properly.