The interest in cosmetic dentistry has grown over the years as patients try to get the perfect smile and function to the teeth. There are multiple options available when it comes to cosmetic dentistry which means patients need to take their time and explore which treatment is the best choice for their specific needs. In general, cosmetic dentistry is dental care that is focused on improving the look of the teeth and, in some cases, improving the functionality of the teeth. Here is a look at some of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments and how they can improve the look of the mouth.
Composite bonding of the teeth addresses teeth that have a chipped or uneven look, and this treatment option is similar to composite veneers which are used to cover the whole tooth of the patient. For both treatment options, a resin material, AKA the composite, is placed on the tooth so it can be hand-sculpted to achieve a natural appearance and it is then bonded to the tooth with a curing light. If the teeth that are being treated are straight and not damaged, there is no need to prepare the natural teeth and the treatment can be performed in a few hours to transform the smile of the person. The results can last five to seven years as long as the patient maintains the teeth through proper dental care and also avoids eating or drinking anything that can stain or chip the teeth.
As mentioned above, dental veneers involve the placement of a material over the surface of the tooth. The material that is placed on the tooth is often made of porcelain and veneers can give the teeth a look that is more aligned, contoured, or longer looking in the mouth. In addition, veneers can give patients the option of choosing a certain shade or level of brightness. While some patients require some shaving of the teeth before the veneers are placed on them, this is not always the case, and the treatment can simply require a small amount of shaping and preparation so the veneers will be ready for placement on the teeth. The amount of tooth structure that is removed depends on the treatment goals of the patient. Veneers can be created to reflect the individual preferences of the patient with a look that is natural in both shape and color and not overly fake or blindingly white in appearance. Veneers can be directly applied and then sculpted on the front surface of the tooth. The dentist can also make an impression of the tooth and then send the veneers away to be created in a medical lab. A temporary veneer is then placed on the tooth until the permanent veneer arrives so it can be bonded to the tooth. The results from placing the veneers can be seen immediately and they should last anywhere from seven to twenty years. Veneers might need to be replaced if they experience any wear and tear due to the aging process or any type of cracking or chipping.
Teeth whitening can give a person a smile that is whiter and brighter thanks to a bleaching gel that is used to whiten the teeth. The dentist uses a laser or light to activate the bleaching process and it starts with oxygen emerging into the enamel to lighten the color of the teeth. Patients can also perform at-home whitening treatments when the dentist makes a mouth guard for the teeth of the patient. A whitening gel is applied to the mouth guard and then it is placed in the mouth over a period of two to four weeks (for thirty minutes each day). The results of teeth whitening can be seen fairly quickly after a treatment, but the extent of the results vary per patient, and they depend on the amount of discoloration that the patient has on the teeth. Multiple sessions are usually needed to gain the best results for teeth that are badly discolored.
The results can generally last four to six months before they begin to fade. However, the results can last longer if the patient does not smoke after the treatment and also avoids any food or beverages that can stain the teeth.
In the past, many patients wanted to avoid having braces placed in the mouth as they did not want to have metal braces that were obvious to others. These days, patients can have invisible aligners, such as Invisalign, placed on the teeth to give them a straighter look. Invisible aligners are able to exert pressure on the teeth so they can progressively move in the mouth until they reach their desired position. The procedure starts with the dentist taking X-rays of the teeth to determine their current position and condition. Along with the X-rays, photographs and dental impressions are taken so that a series of aligners can be created that will move the teeth to the desired position. Each set of aligners is worn for about two weeks before they are exchanged for the next set of aligners that were created for the treatment plan. The aligners need to be worn in a specific order so the teeth will be moved in the proper direction. They should be worn at all times except for when the patient is eating and brushing their teeth. The amount of time the treatment will last, and the number of aligners that will be worn, vary per patient and depend on the extent of the changes that are planned for the position of the teeth.