Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

Cosmetic dentistry procedures are a great way to give your smile the finishing touch it needs. While there is no such thing as a specialist ‘cosmetic dentist’ all general dentists are able to provide cosmetic treatment and have the training and expertise to do so.

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However, as most cosmetic treatments are elective rather than medically necessary they will not be covered by dental insurance providers.

Composite Fillings

A composite filling looks more like plasticine putty than a tooth when the dentist is done, but it’s one of the most commonly used dental fillings. They are available in a variety of shades to match the patient’s natural teeth. They are incredibly conservative and preserve the natural tooth structure while being very strong.

The procedure can be completed in a single visit, and anesthesia is usually unnecessary. The dentist will first remove any decay, wash and dry the area and prep the tooth. This may include shaving the tooth if there is a lot of damage. The dentist will then apply a tooth bonding etching agent to the surface of the tooth, and then begin layering on the composite. The dentist will use a blue curing light to harden each composite section before applying the next.

The bonded section will then be shaped and sculpted to match the natural shape of the tooth, and then polished for a smooth finish. The dentist will also check the bite and make any necessary adjustments. When properly cared for, composite fillings can last up to ten years before needing replacement. The longevity of this type of filling depends on the strength of the bonding and the amount of pressure it receives. Too much pressure can cause the composite to break down and wear out faster.

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers can correct a variety of smile flaws, including chips, stains, cracks, gaps, and misshapen teeth. They are often referred to as instant orthodontics because they can be used in lieu of braces to treat crooked teeth. They are custom-made, so they can match the size, shape, and color of a patient’s natural teeth.

Veneers can be a good choice for patients who want to improve their smile but do not have any serious dental issues, such as deep decay or gum disease. However, because a dentist has to trim off some of the tooth enamel before applying a veneer, it is important to visit a cosmetic dental specialist who can assess whether a patient is suitable for this treatment.

At the first appointment for porcelain veneers, your dentist cleans your teeth and uses a shade guide to select a suitable tooth color for the prosthetic. They then shave off a small part of the front of your teeth to make room for them and take impressions, which they send off to a lab to be made. In the meantime, your dentist will affix temporary restorations to your teeth to protect them and give you a chance to test how they feel.

Although you can eat and drink whatever you like with your new veneers, it is best to avoid anything that may stain them, such as coffee, red wine, and dark-colored fruits and vegetables. It is also a good idea to visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups to keep your veneers looking their best.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth are naturally a light whitish-yellow color, but they can become discolored over time due to foods like berries, coffee and red wine, medications like tetracycline antibiotics and habits like smoking. One of the most popular treatments offered by cosmetic dentists is teeth whitening. When performed by a professional, it is much more effective than at-home whitening products, and it can eliminate heavy stains that are often difficult to remove.

A professional whitening typically involves placing a gel-like whitener in trays that fit over the top and bottom of your teeth. This solution contains hydrogen peroxide, which penetrates the enamel to break apart stains on the surface of your teeth. Depending on the intensity of stains, this process can take an hour or less, and your smile will look brighter afterward.

Another whitening procedure involves taking a mold of your teeth and custom-making thin, flexible trays that resemble mouth guards. This at-home treatment typically requires several weeks to produce noticeable results, but it is still an excellent option for those who want to brighten their smiles in a convenient and affordable way.

A cosmetic dentist can also reshape and improve the appearance of discolored, misshapen or broken teeth by filing or polishing away some of the tooth’s enamel to reveal dentin underneath. This treatment is usually painless and can dramatically improve the appearance of crooked, chipped, cracked or worn teeth.

Dental Implants

Dental Implants are an artificial tooth root that supports a restoration to replace a missing tooth or teeth. While the implant procedure is categorized as part of prosthetic dentistry, it’s also considered cosmetic because it can help prevent jaw bone loss and improve an individual’s smile. Millions of people lose one or more teeth due to gum disease, tooth decay, and other causes. When these people don’t get replacement teeth, they may feel self-conscious about smiling and have difficulty eating food. This can lead to secondary health problems like malnutrition.

Luckily, there are several options for replacing missing teeth that are both functional and attractive. While dentures and bridges can work well, many dentists favor dental implants for their long-term stability and natural-looking appearance. Implants are cylindrical rods or screws made from titanium or zirconia and placed in the patient’s jawbone. Once they heal, they fuse with the bone tissues to create a strong base for artificial replacement teeth.

If you’re considering dental implants, talk to your cosmetic dentist first. They’ll be able to advise you of your options and tell you how much it will cost. They might even recommend a specialist that performs this treatment. This might be a doctor who treats conditions of the mouth, jaw, and face (oral and maxillofacial surgeon), a dentist who places and repairs artificial teeth (periodontist), or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.