A cosmetic dentist brings about smile transformations. Cosmetic dentistry can take crooked teeth and make them straight; it can take discolored teeth and make them brighten like the sun. It’s not always self-esteem or looks that drive the need for cosmetic dentistry; sometimes a visit to a cosmetic dentist office is necessary following an injury or an accident. Learning more about the techniques of cosmetic dentistry can help you make smart decisions about what’s right for you.
You can say a lot with a smile. When someone doesn’t smile much, though — don’t assume that they are unhappy. It could be that they’re hiding problems with their teeth or gums. These are problems that cosmetic dentistry can fix.
Cosmetic Dentistry 101
Cosmetic dentistry has a wide variety of techniques to help turn your smile into a shiny masterpiece. The science is changing all the time, producing new ways to address the challenges of the modern mouth. Among the most frequently applied cosmetic dentistry practices are:
Teeth whitening — either at the dentist office or at home
Veneers — Attaching thin slices of porcelain or resin to cover spots of discoloration
Inlays and onlays – so-called “indirect fillings” used to bond to preserve existing teeth
Bonding – Using a dental resin to repair cracks, chips or other signs of decay; the resin is typically hardened by exposure to an ultra-violet light
Implants — Inserting tiny titanium screws into the site of a tooth as support for a crown. One example is the all on 4 dental implants approach.
Each of these procedures can come with a substantial cost, depending on the problem and its severity. One way to avoid the need for cosmetic repairs is to visit your dentist often for routine preventive care.
Choosing a Cosmetic Dentist
Like any medical specialist, you want to choose a cosmetic dentist carefully. Take note that cosmetic dentistry is not considered a mainline specialty. Anyone can call themselves a cosmetic dentist.
One way to protect yourself is to use the Find a Dentist look-up tool provided by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. This tool lists members who have reached the rank of “accredited member” and “accredited fellow.”
You can also ask for referrals from your own dentist or other people in your network. When you find someone you like, ask questions. Understand their credentials and how much time they spend on continuing education and in the practice of cosmetic dentistry.
Don’t be shy. You can even ask the prospective dentist to provide you with before-and-after photos.
A Word about Teeth Whitening
The last few years have seen a revolution with the development of over-the-counter products for teeth whitening at home. These include products such as teeth whitening strips, gels, and special toothpaste. You can even now buy home teeth-whitening trays that will apply LED lights to your teeth after you coat them in a special gel.
Just keep in mind that teeth whitening doesn’t necessarily work the same for every person. If you are interested in some of these products, your first step might be to have a conversation with your dentist. At a minimum, you should look for products with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
Sweeten Your Smile
In the end, cosmetic dentistry, including professional teeth whitening services, might be the best bet to restore your smile to its former glory. As with any and every medical treatment, make sure you do your homework — whether that involves researching a potential dentist or exploring whether over-the-counter products are effective. With that information, make the right choice and your smile will thank you!