Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in the last few years. As well as being experts in preventative oral health and restoration, dentists use their expertise to improve the look (aesthetics) of our teeth and enhance our smile. Depending on what is needed, cosmetic treatments help to lighten, straighten, reshape or repair teeth so they look more natural and intact. Often, a combination of treatments is done over a period of time and a series of dental appointments.
Cosmetic dentistry includes veneers, crowns, dental bridges, dental implants, tooth whitening and tooth-coloured fillings.
When cosmetic changes are being planned, dentists will ensure that the upper and lower teeth work in harmony to reduce the risk of long term damage for longer lasting results. Dentists generally work in partnership with dental technicians who make implants, veneers and dental bridges to suit individual needs. Innovations in dentistry has meant that the majority of cosmetic and restorative procedures can now be carried out in-house that would have in the past required more costly external referrals .
Veneers are made from thin slices of porcelain or resin and are designed to sit precisely over the surface of the teeth, similar to the way a false fingernail fits over a natural nail. A thin layer of the tooth’s enamel is first removed so the veneer can be bonded to the tooth. Veneers are often used to create an even, symmetrical smile, especially to the front teeth which are seen more when smiling and talking.
A dental crown is a covering for an existing tooth and improves the look of a tooth and the way it works. They also help to protect teeth which are weak or may have broken. Crowns can be made of gold, metal or ceramic, depending on where it is placed in the mouth and how strong it needs to be. Crowns can also be needed when too much of the original tooth is missing or after root canal treatment.
A dental bridge is a permanent solution for people with missing teeth and who would prefer not to wear dentures. Bridges work by attaching a false tooth in between two crowns on the teeth either side of the gap created by the missing tooth (or teeth). Bridges can be made from ceramic materials or ceramics that are bonded to a metal substructure for added strength.
A dental implant is another solution to replace a missing tooth. Implants are made from titanium, and form a ‘root’ or anchor in the jawbone to attach a crown, bridge or even stabilise full dentures. Once a restoration is placed on the implant, it is permanent and looks and works like a natural tooth. Dental implants are considered to be one of the best dental options because they work more like a natural tooth. If they’re looked after, dental implants can last for a lifetime.
Tooth whitening helps to remove stains and discolouration from teeth, making them look whiter. Peroxide is the common ingredient used in whitening products and works by increasing oxygen into the tooth enamel, causing it to lighten. Treatments can be done during dental appointments, or at home using a purpose designed tray which keeps the whitening product in contact with the teeth.
For around 150 years, amalgam has been used as a dental filling material. Although the materials used in amalgam fillings are hard, many people don’t like their appearance and are concerned about potential health risks. White, or resin fillings have become a commonly used alternative because they can be matched to the shade of the tooth.
Oral hygiene is important throughout life, including when cosmetic dentistry has been done. Many cosmetic dental treatments last a lifetime if they are cared for with daily brushing and flossing. Speak with your dentist about what is right for you. Book an appointment today.