For a lot of people, visits to the dentist usually involve a bit of poking and prodding, a good teeth cleaning and maybe some fillings or a root canal if you’re unlucky. This all comes under the remit of routine dentistry, and is what we spend a lot of our time doing. But surgery’s like ours also offer a range of services known as ‘cosmetic dentistry’, which are designed to enhance or alter your teeth and gums to give you the perfect smile. Some areas of cosmetic dentistry are a necessity for patients who have, say, lost a tooth, but others are purely done for aesthetic. In honour of National Smile Month, we wanted to give you a quick rundown of exactly what comes under ‘cosmetic’ dentistry and what some of the procedures involve.
Tooth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure in the UK. It is designed to remove discolouration from the teeth to leave a purer white enamel. Tooth discolouration is a natural part of the ageing process, with most people’s teeth starting to change colour from their teenage years. Tooth colour is also partially genetic, so if your parents have yellower teeth yours are more likely to follow suit. Tooth whitening is also used to reverse staining on the teeth from food, drink and tobacco. There are 3 types of teeth whitening you can choose from – the pure laser technique, a kick start laser or a home whitening kit (still given by a dentist). The most popular method is the pure laser technique, as this is the quickest way to achieve sparkling white teeth, but it’s also the most expensive.
Veneers are small porcelain shells that fit over the front of the tooth, hiding blemishes and imperfections in the tooth. They are the perfect remedy for a number of dental problems and are a close second for the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in the country. They’re incredibly strong and stain resistant, so they won’t spoil over time like natural teeth. Veneers can be used to cover discoloured, worn, chipped or misaligned teeth and can even be used to disguise gaps in between the teeth if applied correctly. For more information on dental veneers you can see our previous blog.
Crowns are most commonly used to replace damaged or broken teeth. The ‘crown’ of your tooth is the section visible above the gum line, so a false crown is either applied to your natural tooth after some preparation or it is attached to an implant to create the illusion of a tooth. An impression of the tooth is taken and a porcelain replacement is moulded and created. The old tooth (if present) is then trimmed down and the crown fitted to it with dental cement to prevent movement.
Bridges & Implants
If you have completely lost a tooth for any reason it is important to make sure it is filled with an artificial tooth. The only exception to this rule is wisdom teeth, which can be removed and left without causing a problem. But for the rest of your teeth if a gap is left the neighbouring teeth will start to move and shift to try and fill the gap, leaving you with misaligned teeth and gaps. Bridges and implants are both methods of filling the gaps left by missing teeth. An implant is a stand-alone procedure that fits a metal screw in place of the natural tooth root and a crown to finish. Bridges comprise of a full implant in place of the missing tooth with 2 crowns on the neighbouring teeth for support. Your dentist will be able to discuss with you whether an implant or a bridge would be appropriate for your situation.
Composite White Fillings
Fillings might be a routine procedure and are usually fairly inexpensive, but there is a more cosmetically friendly version too. Your standard fillings are made of a mix of metals called amalgam, which gives a metallic silver finish in your mouth. If you have a lot of fillings or just prefer the invisible look, you can opt for the more costly composite white fillings. These blend seamlessly into your natural tooth enamel, so are incredibly difficult to see externally. There is also no risk of the filling becoming visible as your natural enamel wears away.
One of the more controversial options, gum contouring is rarely medically necessary and is considered a purely cosmetic procedure. Gum contouring is a form of surgery, during which your dentist will use scalpels, lasers and radiosurgery to reshape your gums into a more pleasing gum line. A number of things can cause your gums to be too low of too high, from genetics, prescription drugs to gum disease and natural recession. This procedure corrects the gum line and gives your smile a normal, healthy appearance.
Of course, there are many other, more specific cosmetic dentistry treatments available, but this overview covers the most common procedures. You may require a mix of these procedures to achieve your perfect Hollywood smile, but if you are looking to improve the appearance of your teeth and mouth, there is little cosmetic dentistry cannot do. For more information or to book your cosmetic dentistry consultation, get in touch with us at the surgery today.