What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?
Traditional and cosmetic dentistry have two different focuses, procedures, and objectives. Both are very important and can accomplish a beautiful smile as well as healthy oral hygiene. Traditional dentistry focuses more on dental hygiene, and cosmetic dentistry focuses on the aesthetic appearance of one’s teeth and smile. Cosmetic dentistry is a choice to improve one’s mouth or smile.
While traditional dentistry focuses on oral hygiene and preventing, diagnosing and treating oral disease, cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the appearance of a person’s teeth, mouth and smile. In other words restorative, general and/or family dental practices address dental problems that require necessary treatment, whereas cosmetic dentistry provides elective – or desired – treatments or services.
Cosmetic dentistry may also provide restorative benefits. For example, dental fillings are a common procedure used to treat decayed teeth. Previously, most dental fillings were composed primarily of gold, amalgam and other materials that left visible dark spots on the teeth.
Today, dental fillings may fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry, because you can select fillings made of porcelain or composite materials that closely match the color of your teeth, thus maintaining the natural appearance of your teeth and smile. Many people may choose to have their older fillings replaced with newer, tooth-colored fillings to enhance their oral appearance.
Cosmetic Dentistry Today
People choose cosmetic dental procedures for various reasons – to repair a defect such as a malformed bite or crooked teeth, treat an injury, or just improve their overall appearance. For these and many other reasons, cosmetic dentistry has become a vital and important part of the dental profession and one of the fastest growing areas of dentistry. For example, tooth-whitening procedures have tripled over the past five years.
Common cosmetic dental procedures can be performed to correct misshaped, discolored, chipped or missing teeth. It also can be used to change the overall shape of teeth – from teeth that are too long or short, have gaps, or simply need to be reshaped.
Cosmetic dentistry has become so popular that restorative treatments are now adopting cosmetic elements into their procedures. For instance, a tooth filling or crown can be designed to match the natural shape and color of your tooth, hiding the fact that you’ve had any “work done.”
Cosmetic dentistry procedures include:
- Cosmetic fillings — Alternative, natural-looking materials to conventional silver-colored fillings made from porcelain and composite resins, which are colored to match natural tooth enamel.
- Whitening/Bleaching — Procedures that reverse the effects of such things as aging, food and tobacco stains, and medication use.
- Veneers — Special thin laminates, called veneers, used to cover stains, correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth, and close unsightly gaps between teeth.
- Bonding — A tooth-colored material that looks like the enamel of your teeth and used to improve the color of a tooth, or close unsightly gaps.
- Cosmetic contouring and reshaping – A relatively simple procedure that can correct crooked, chipped, cracked, and even overlapping teeth.
- Crowns — Synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain that can be placed on the top of a tooth to restore its function and appearance attach bridges, cover implants, or prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse.
- Crown lengthening — Performed to reshape gums and bone tissue, and often used to correct a “gummy” smile.
- Bridges — Natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth and restore the natural contour of your teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth. Bridges are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures, because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants.
- Specialty dentures – Lightweight dentures that mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Most dentures are made from a combination of metals and synthetic material such as acrylic resin, and can be either partial or complete sets.
- Excessive or uneven gums – Gum lifts or soft tissue grafts can be used to even gum lines, or cover an exposed root.
- Ridge augmentation — A procedure that can shore up dents and other abnormalities in your gum line.
- Grafts — Small pieces of tissue taken from other areas such as the palate and surgically implanted to correct severe gum disease, cover exposed roots, stop bone loss and gum recession, and even reduce pain-causing root sensitivity.
- Replacement of lost gum tissue — Gum tissue can be augmented or replaced by a variety of means, including soft tissue grafts.
- Implants — Synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are sometimes a viable alternative to partial dentures.
Who wouldn’t want a perfect smile? Cosmetic dentistry offers many options for people who are unhappy with their smile. If you are one of these people, we encourage you to discuss all of your options with us. We can answer any questions you have about the techniques used to improve your smile.