Most people agree that having a beautiful, healthy smile is one of the great assets in life. Something we ALL would love to have. Having a smile you are confident about has profound effects on many aspects of your life; from your self-esteem, to your love life, your career, and even the way strangers see you. In fact, 94% of people polled say they are likely to notice a person’s smile when they first meet than their height, eyes or their figure, and 71% believe people with a nice smile make friends more easily. Indeed, having a beautiful, engaging smile and feeling secure about our appearance can make us feel better about ourselves and lead to a fuller, happier life.
Have you thought about making improvements to your smile but felt unsure about the options?
You see all these advertisements about “total smile makeovers” where people get their entire mouth done or maybe just 6-10 upper front teeth restored with veneers or crowns, and the before and after pictures look great, but you think to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot. That’s just too much and too expensive! I can’t do all of that” and you put the thought aside and go on about your day…
If you’re someone who is unhappy with your smile and you think that a “total smile makeover” is the only way to improve it, you may be interested to know that there are usually more options than that!
What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?
There is more to cosmetic dentistry than “total smile makeovers”. Sometimes, simply having your teeth whitened can make you look years younger. If you want straighter teeth, you could consider getting braces or Invisalign aligners. If it’s your gum level you don’t like, we can shorten or lengthen the gum line on teeth that show within your smile line so they complement your facial features. If you have a tooth that is just slightly longer or shorter than the others, you can have aesthetic recontouring or bonding. Porcelain veneers can also help improve imperfections on the front teeth and provide you with a beautiful smile. So, the bottom line is that there is a wide range of things that be done to make your smile beautiful.
Many times, these procedures can be done in just one or two visits.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment plan when it comes to cosmetic dental treatments. Depending on several different factors, there could be a variety of treatment options that would enhance your smile.
The most common cosmetic complaints we hear from patients involve yellowing or stained teeth, crooked teeth and old worn-down dental work. We also see many people with heavy clenching and/or grinding habits. This results in worn, flat, and short teeth, which add years to their overall appearance.
How Can I Learn About My Options?
A consultation is the first step in your journey in cosmetic dentistry. A detailed examination is carried out along with any preliminary x-rays we need. Next, we identify the specific issues with each patient’s smile, both from your perspective as a patient and our perspective as dental professionals. Some peoples’ teeth are too long, short, narrow, or wide. Some teeth are simply too dark due to stains or medications at birth. Some people have old crowns that don’t match the color of the rest of their teeth anymore.
Once we’ve gathered sufficient data, we then lay out the various options that can address your particular concerns. We will have an honest discussion and you will make the final call as to which option best suits your individual situation. We will give you written options, a timeline for treatment completion, and the fees involved.
Some Solutions Can Include One Or More Of The Following:
Professional Tooth Whitening – brightening your smile with professional whitening is a quick and effective way to enhance the smile you have. (Keep in mind, whitening only works on natural teeth WITHOUT restorations. If you have crowns or tooth-colored filling/bonding, whitening will not change their color, so this option is only for patients with natural, unrestored teeth.
Porcelain Veneers – porcelain veneers are a common and effective way of enhancing your smile. They are thin porcelain shells that are bonded to the front surface of your teeth. They are a great choice for disguising imperfections such as permanently stained enamel, teeth with unusual coloring, chipped teeth, misaligned teeth, unusually short or misshaped teeth, or to fill in gaps or spaces. Some patients opt for them instead of crowns because they don’t require removing as much natural tooth structure as crowns do. They will last for many years before replacement is needed. This actual procedure is much like getting a crown. At the 1st appointment, we prepare the tooth/teeth by reducing a thin layer of surface enamel, make an impression for the lab, select the shade, and place temporary resin veneers. You’ll wear these for a few weeks until the permanent porcelain ones are ready. During the 2nd appointment, we take the temporary acrylic ones off and bond the porcelain ones permanently to your teeth.
Dental Bonding – composite resin materials can be used directly in the mouth for dental bonding. They are best reserved for small defects, such as when we want to close gaps between teeth, repair small chips, or to subtly change the size/shape of a tooth. It is done in a single appointment. Because they are made of resin and not porcelain, they are weaker, more porous, and more prone to staining. You’ll need to be gentle with them and avoid biting directly on the bonded areas. It is also important to be diligent with keeping them clean and being careful with foods that can stain them (coffee, tea, red wine, tomato sauce, mustard, curry, turmeric, certain fruits and juices.) This is a less expensive way than veneers or crowns to get cosmetic improvement provided you are willing to put in the work for their maintenance.
Crowns – sometimes called “caps”, dental crowns are made of metal, porcelain, or a fusion of the two. They fully “cap” your natural tooth on all sides. In addition to being beautiful, they provide strength and protection for teeth that are heavily restored and have lost a lot of tooth structure.
Gum Grafting – lowering the gum line is often done for patients with significant recession around one or more teeth. Sometimes, recession happens due to excessive toothbrushing or other physical trauma. Dark, yellow roots get exposed and this can result in unsightly or sensitive teeth. Gum grafting involves taking tissue from a different part of the mouth and placing on the deficient sites. This allows us to even out the gum levels and restoring harmony to the shape of your teeth.
Gum Reduction/Crown Lengthening – raising the gum line is the opposite of gum grafting. Some patients have a gummy smile, which can make teeth look too short and square in comparison. There are many possible causes for gummy smiles – one of them occurs when the gums don’t shrink back like they are supposed to after the teeth erupt (altered passive eruption). Gum reduction can help in this case. The soft tissue, and sometimes the underlying bone, is recontoured so the tooth proportions can be improved. When done in conjunction with dental bonding, veneers or crowns, it can produce some truly excellent esthetic results.
Invisalign/Orthodontics – if your teeth are crooked or misaligned, they can be straightened at any point in your life. Orthodontics is not just for children anymore. With options like Invisalign, a series of clear aligners are used to straighten teeth without the need for brackets and wires. Depending on the complexity of your case and the objectives we are looking to achieve, there may be alternatives to full Invisalign treatment that are faster and lower in cost.
Aesthetic Tooth Recontouring or Reshaping – tooth recontouring is an excellent solution for patients that only need minor adjustments to the shape of certain teeth. Small amounts of tooth enamel are smoothened to change a tooth’s shape or surface. Sometimes these very minor adjustments can make a big improvement by creating more balance and symmetry to a smile without having to add anything to it.
If you think any of these procedures can address your individual concerns and needs, why not take the first step and find out what your options are? How would it feel to have a smile you’re proud of? You might just be surprised at the changes it’ll make in your life. Call us for a complimentary consultation today at 214-956-9100.