Cosmetic dentistry is made up of services that are used to improve the look of the teeth or gums, but not necessarily the health or function. Cosmetic dentistry is not recognized as a specialty dentistry area by the American Dental Association.
What Are Common Cosmetic Dentistry Options?
- Bonding, in which a dental composite is applied to the surface of the tooth, sculpted, hardened, and then polished to improve the look of the original tooth.
- Whitening, the most common procedure, which lightens the color of teeth to help improve their appearance.
- Reshaping, where parts of tooth enamel are removed to improve tooth appearance. It can be used to correct a chip or alter the shape, position or length of teeth. If a tooth is crooked, this procedure can help correct this problem. Unfortunately enamel cannot be replaced and its removal may expose dentin. Reshaping is occasionally used as a braces substitute and is known by a few other names: odontoplasty, contouring, recontouring, enameloplasty, and sculpting.
- Veneers are thin, custom porcelain laminates that get bonded right to the teeth and are used to close gaps and disguise discoloured teeth that can’t otherwise be whitened.
- Bite reclamation, used to open up a patient’s bite, reclaim vertical dimension and get rid of unwanted wrinkles. Excessive wear to the teeth from grinding or acid reflux can have an impact on vertical dimension.
- Gum lifts sculpt and raise the gum line and involve reshaping of bones and tissue to help create the appearance of symmetrical, or longer, teeth.
- Dental bridges, or false teeth, are fused between porcelain crowns to fill in the space left by a missing tooth or several missing teeth. A bridge can’t be taken out like dentures can.
Cosmetic Dentistry Credentials
In order to be recognized as a specialist by the American Dental Association, a minimum of 2-3 years of education is required after the professional finishes dental school.
Why Cosmetic Dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is for people that are not happy with their smile and want to improve how it looks, or who have suffered damage to their mouth – from an automobile accident, for example – and need to have their smile restored.
These procedures are not performed to improve oral health, though they can contribute to the mental health of some individuals by helping improve the patient’s self esteem and confidence. Self esteem is directly linked to a person’s view of themselves – if they aren’t happy with how they look, self esteem drops. If they are happy with how they look, self esteem goes up.
Is Cosmetic Dentistry Expensive?
Cosmetic dentistry can be expensive, depending upon the procedure. Always check with your dentist and ask plenty of questions before deciding to pursue a procedure, and make sure you are prepared for all of the costs that may be associated with it. Depending on the reasons for undergoing a cosmetic dentistry procedure, there may be financial assistance available, especially if the work is being done to repair damage caused by some form of trauma.