How cosmetic dentistry can change your smile – and your life
Modern cosmetic dentistry has created many opportunities that did not exist in the past. cosmetic treatments can improve your appearance and change the way you feel about yourself.
Although cosmetic dentistry really did not exist a few years ago, it now attracts interest from a wide range of people.
There are few people who don’t want to improve their appearance by making their teeth straighter and whiter so that they look better when they smile.
New technology and procedures have created many more opportunities for dentists to help patients look better.
One of the most important opportunities for doing this is porcelain veneers. These are custom-made wafers that the dentist places over the front of the teeth to repair damage and make them look better. Veneers can overcome many cosmetic dental problems such as whitening stained or discolored teeth, closing gaps between teeth or correcting a crooked smile without the need for braces. They can also cover up chips and imperfections so that the smile looks much better.
Another important cosmetic trend is the increased use of white fillings.
White fillings now are more lifelike than ever and they last longer than in the past. They have become the material of choice for many dentists as they blend in with teeth and look better.
If you feel your smile is less than perfect, talk to your dentist about how it could be better.
Making the most of your smile
Your smile is a major factor in the impression people get when they meet you. And the good news is that you now don’t have to settle for a smile spoiled by stained, chipped, or misshapen teeth.
Advances in dental treatment mean there is a wide range of choices to help you get the smile that you want. Here are some of the options:
- Tooth whitening (bleaching) can help brighten teeth that have become discolored or stained. It can be done in the dental office or with a system the dentist can give you to use at home.
- Bonding improves the appearance of teeth that have become chipped, broken, cracked or stained. This is done by bonding tooth-colored materials to the tooth surface.
- Enamel shaping involves modifying teeth to improve their appearance by removing or contouring enamel.
- Veneers are thin custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth. They are used to treat spaces between teeth and teeth that are chipped, stained or poorly shaped.
- Braces may be needed if teeth are crooked, crowded or do not meet properly – and not just for kids.
Even small changes can have a big impact on your smile and so make a huge difference to how you look and how you feel about yourself.
If you’d like an even better smile, your dentist will be able to give you information about the options available.
Why your routine dental cleaning is not routine
For many patients, the dental cleaning appointment may seem little more than a more complicated version of brushing your teeth.
However, this appoinment plays a crucial role in patient education and prevention of dental disease.
The appointment is called a dental prophylaxis, or prophy and it’s one of the most important steps in your dental care program.
Here are some of the elements that it may include, depending on your needs:
- Oral hygiene evaluation.
- Tooth brushing and flossing instructions.
- Scaling above the gum to remove plaque and tartar.
- Debridement of tartar beneath the gum.
- Polishing the teeth.
- Periodontal charting.
It’s important to remove plaque from the teeth as it ultimately forms a hard, rough sediment known as tartar or calculus, which must be removed by a dental professional to help prevent periodontal disease.
Polishing the teeth removes stains and creates a feeling of fresh breath and a clean mouth. The hygienist or dentist may recommend a prophylaxis visit every two to six months.
Although insurance may only cover two prophies a year, recall frequency depends on many factors and should be based on individual needs.
These appointments can help you have much better dental health and could save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.
What to do if your tooth cracks
While our teeth are normally very strong, they can crack for a number of reasons:
- Tooth decay, trauma/injury, grinding of the teeth or a stress fracture.
- Our jaw may be stronger than our teeth and the teeth can fracture when we bite heavily on food.
We can protect our teeth in some circumstances – for example it may be advisable to wear a mouthguard during sports.
Taking proper care of the teeth and regular visits to the dentist will also help keep your teeth in good shape.
If a tooth cracks, it may become painful if the nerve is exposed and the area can become tender.
If this happens, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Then call your dentist immediately. Treatment will depend on where the tooth has fractured, how close it is to the nerve and the overall condition of the tooth.
A cracked tooth may be repaired with silver alloy, gold, porcelain or plastic. Or it may require a crown or overlay or bonding, which applies porcelain or enamel to the fractured tooth. If you contact your dentist quickly, they will be able to take the most approriate action to preserve the tooth as much as possible.
Making your teeth look better with Porcelain veneers
Everybody wants the best smile possible and there’s no need to have it spoiled by gaps in your teeth or by teeth that are stained or badly shaped.
Whether the problem was caused by nature or by an injury, you may be able to have a veneer placed on top of your teeth to restore or improve your smile. Porcelain veneers are thin, custom-made shells crafted from tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth.
Your dentist will usually make a model of your teeth and the veneers will be made by a specialist dental technician. A small amount of enamel also needs to be removed from your teeth to accommodate the shell (i.e. veneers is usually an irreversible process).
In order to make the most of your veneer, your dentist may suggest that you avoid foods and drinks that could discolor them, such as coffee, tea or red wine.
It’s also possible that veneers might chip or fracture but for most, they are well worth it as it offers a completely new smile.