What is a Cosmetic Dentist?
A cosmetic dentist performs dentistry that is focused on creating a positive, more cosmetic change to your teeth and smile. Most people think of tooth whitening or porcelain veneers when the idea of a cosmetic dentist comes to mind, but a well educated and well trained cosmetic dentist can provide much more than just superficial changes to a patient. A highly skilled, experienced cosmetic dentist can make a major difference to improve your appearance, your smile, function, and even increase your self-esteem, and confidence. Cosmetic dentistry has evolved in such a way that allows cosmetic dentists to address cosmetic as well as functional issues for patients.
Cosmetic Dentist Focus
A cosmetic dentist will focus on altering and enhancing your existing dental condition and features to increase your appearance aesthetically. This can be accomplished in a number of various ways using different techniques and dental materials. These can include cosmetic dental implants, teeth whitening or porcelain crowns. Cosmetic dentistry has become quite popular as millions of people every year regularly schedule appointments for some sort of cosmetic dentistry.
A Cosmetic dentist will also provide restorative benefits. For example, dental fillings are a routine procedure used to treat decayed teeth. In the past, most dental fillings were composed mostly of metal and other materials that left visible dark spots on the teeth. Today, dental fillings can and do fall into the realm of cosmetic dentistry. This is because you can select fillings made of porcelain or composite materials that can closely match the color of your teeth. This allows a patient to maintain the natural appearance of their teeth and smile while taking care of dental disease. Many patients may choose to have their older colored fillings replaced with newer, tooth-colored fillings to enhance their smile cosmetically.
Advances in dental technology and techniques have created natural looking, tooth colored dental materials allowing for more durable and predictable results than in the past. These new dental materials also allow cosmetic and general dentists the ability to use more conservative techniques to preserve as much of your natural tooth structure as possible, depending upon your personal clinical condition that you present with. These materials advantages lie in increased strength, durability, and light reflection properties.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures
-Teeth Whitening or Tooth Bleaching. Teeth whitening is the most common and popular procedure offered by your cosmetic dentist. Teeth often present with staining from smoking, food, drink (coffee, tea, sodas, or wine) or just poor oral hygiene maintenance. Many teeth whitening options are available, including over the counter products. Dentist supervised treatments (also referred to as in office teeth whitening) remain the recommended procedures for the optimum results.Teeth whitening is a quick and effective way to make a dramatic difference in your smile.
-Dental Bonding. Dental bonding allows the cosmetic dentist to restore chipped, fractures, discolored or decayed teeth. Dental bonding uses tooth colored materials that closely mimic the color and translucency of both enamel and dentin. It is applied into the cavity or onto the surface of a tooth, where it is then sculpted into shape, contoured and cured using a high intensity light. The result is one that blends invisibly with the remainder of the surrounding tooth structure and the rest of your natural teeth to create a healthier, brighter smile. One which only you and your cosmetic dentist would know was there. This procedure offers very quick results. It can even be a substitute for the need for limited orthodontic movement (braces) in the cases of closing small gaps between teeth.
-Inlays and Onlays. These are also sometimes referred to as indirect fillings. Inlays and onlays can be made from porcelain or composite materials. They are a long lasting yet very cosmetic way to provide a filling to teeth with tooth decay or fracture. Whereas dental bonding is molded into place while the patient is in the chair during a dental visit, inlays and onlays are created in a dental laboratory by a technician before being fitted and bonded using adhesive by your cosmetic dentist. Inlays and onlays are a more conservative treatment vs a crown. A cosmetic dentist can place these where no one would know they were even there.
-Composite or Porcelain Veneers. Composite veneers or porcelain veneers (also sometimes called laminates or dental veneers) are wafer thin, custom made shells of tooth colored materials made to cover the front surface of teeth to improve their cosmetic appearance. These veneers are adhesively bonded to the front of the teeth giving the cosmetic dentist the ability to change their color, shape, size, or length. Porcelain veneers are more stain resistant than composite resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Composite resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. Veneers may also be recommended by your cosmetic dentist if you have gaps in your teeth or if you have severe tooth discoloration (i.e. from medications like tetracycline) that teeth whitening is not able to restore.
-Dental Implants. Dental implants are artificial tooth root replacements that are used to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are made of titanium and placed directly into the bone. Often the result is not only an enhanced smile, but also an appearance that is more youthful, since missing teeth cause the face to collapse, and sag making you look older than you actually are. A cosmetic dentist can blend the final restoration to match (in size and color) with the rest of your teeth.
-Porcelain Crowns. Porcelain can be shaped by your cosmetic dentist to recreate the look of natural tooth enamel, while providing strength, resilience, and natural light reflection. Porcelain crowns are the ideal choice when trying to recreate the form and function of a tooth damaged by tooth decay, trauma, or wear. Porcelain crowns can be designed and fabricated to create an improved and enhanced cosmetic appearance. A big advantage of porcelain crowns is that they do not have the dark colored line along the gum line that PFM (porcelain fused to metal) crowns often do. This allows for an improved ability for a far more cosmetic result to be achieved by your cosmetic dentist.
Cosmetic dentistry can offer many different options, ranging from minor to major, for people who are unhappy with their smile. But patients need to remember there is no such thing as a perfect smile. Individual perception is the key. Each and every individual has a different perception of what perfection is. So it is important that you discover what you really like and want and then be able to communicate that to your cosmetic dentist. Your dentist will be able to answer all the questions you have about the techniques that may be used to improve your smile. The condition of your teeth and your desired result often will indicate what the best procedure is for you.