Mouth Makeover

Style your smile with cosmetic dentistry

By David Buice

Smile makeovers have never been more popular, but it may surprise you to learn that cosmetic dentistry dates back to 700 B.C. and the Etruscans, who made dentures using ivory, bone, and both human and animal teeth. Today, cosmetic dentists utilize cutting-edge technology, techniques, and materials to create sparkling, one-of-a-kind smiles that fit your face and personality. Below are top procedures used to design beautiful, long-lasting new smiles.

Teeth Whitening – Professional whitening can lighten your teeth up to 10 shades in one in-office treatment, and results are seen immediately.

Bonding – During this procedure, tooth-colored composite material is applied and then hardened with a special light, adhering it to the tooth. Bonding repairs chipped or cracked teeth, closes gaps, and changes the shape and length of teeth.

Porcelain Veneers – Veneers are thin shells of porcelain custom-made to fit onto the front and over the top of each tooth. They have the lustrous look of natural teeth and provide strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel. Porcelain veneers are popular not only for their appearance but also for their versatility. They can change tooth color, address chips and gaps, change the shape and length of teeth, and even address slight crookedness.

Crowns – Crowns are custom-made tooth-shaped caps that completely cover a tooth. Usually made of porcelain, they are placed over a damaged tooth to improve its shape, appearance, size, and strength and restore function. 

Orthodontics (braces) – Braces correct crooked, overcrowded teeth and a misaligned bite. While metal braces are still used, clear, removable aligners for adults and teens, such as Invisalign, fit snuggly over your teeth and are virtually invisible.

Dental Implants – Considered the gold standard for replacing missing teeth, implants feel and function like natural teeth. Posts, usually made of titanium or zirconia, are placed into the jawbone that act as an “artificial root,” then a restoration (crown) is placed on top of the implant. Dental implants are also used for implant-retained dentures.

Preparing for Your Cosmetic Consultation

Have an idea of what you want to address before seeing a cosmetic dentist. Start with a self-assessment of your smile, answering questions like these.

What imperfections do you want to correct? Consider tooth color, chips, gaps, and crowding or crookedness, as well as length and shape.

How severe are the problems you want to address? Cosmetic dentistry can range from in-office whitening and maybe fixing a gap or two with bonding to a full smile makeover that covers a wide range of issues, including missing teeth, old crowns that have a dark metal edge, and a gummy smile.

Do you want a one or two-visit dental treatment, or are you willing to spend more time to get your dream smile, possibly weeks or even months?

What budget do you have for enhancing your smile? Most cosmetic procedures aren’t covered by dental insurance, although some aspects may be, such as restoring chipped or broken teeth or straightening teeth with orthodontics. Keep in mind that cosmetic dentists may assist you with ways to finance your new smile.

Tips for Finding a Cosmetic Dentist

Ask for referrals from friends and family who’ve had cosmetic dental work done. Also, ask your general dentist and read online reviews. Narrow your list to three or four and arrange a consultation.

Check the dentist’s credentials and experience. Dentists can call themselves cosmetic dentists regardless of background or training aside from earning a DDS. However, many have invested in advanced education in cosmetic dentistry, and some go the extra mile to become accredited by
the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD.com).

Ask how much of a dentist’s practice is devoted to cosmetic dentistry. Some have performed hundreds of cosmetic cases or more, while others have only completed a handful of smile makeovers.

Take the time to explain what bothers you the most about your smile during your consultation, and then listen carefully to the dentist’s recommendations. You should be given his or her undivided
attention and not feel rushed. Communication plays an essential role in achieving the best possible results. Also, ask to see before and after pictures of actual cosmetic patients of theirs.

Don’t be tempted to choose based on price alone. Searching for a deal isn’t a wise approach. The last thing you want is to spend more time and money to have another dentist redo work you’re unhappy with or that isn’t stable.

If the dentist actively listens to you, makes you feel comfortable, and you like what you see in the
before, and after pictures, chances are you’ll have a positive experience.

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