Cosmetic dentistry can truly change lives. For those patients with broken, stained, or misshapen teeth, cosmetic dentistry can help you smile again. There is hope and your smile can be changed in as little as a day. Teeth serve us throughout our lives for eating and talking and smiling, but over time they can become in need of a little help. Prematurely aged teeth can make us look older. A prematurely aged tooth is usually dark in color, short, and chipped. When you have a mouth full of these prematurely aged teeth, cosmetic dentistry is here to help.
Many of my patients come in and they have forgotten how to smile or they actively hide their smile. These are the people who don’t want their pictures taken or keep their lips tightly together. Many of my male patients will grow long facial hair just to cover up their broken and stained teeth. Patients also start to lose confidence due to this and will often avoid social engagements. It is impactful to see how the smile can affect how me feel and how we present ourselves. One of the first things people notice is a person’s smile. Cosmetic dentistry can change all of this.
Cosmetic dentistry in its simplest terms is how to make the teeth look better. Traditionally all we could do for unaesthetic teeth was to do braces. Braces take about 12-24 months to align the teeth and they can be bonded in place with brackets or you wear Invisalign trays. Both types of braces work, but for the seriously crooked teeth traditional braces are your best bet. Teeth can look totally different after braces. I know a lot of people don’t want to wear braces, especially as an adult. Invisalign makes this a lot easier for those adults who are hesitant to wear traditional braces.
Another facet of cosmetic dentistry involves bleaching. Tooth bleaching can help teeth become whiter. It works well on superficial and light stains. I generally recommend over the counter bleaching strips that you can get at any drugstore. They work well but sometimes you have to do them for a month or two to get good enough results. You will also need to do upkeep whitening maybe once a month to keep them white. There is also in office laser whitening, but I have found this to be very aggressive and can be very painful during and after the laser whitening session. Also, the older the teeth, the darker and more grey and yellow the teeth, the harder it will be to bleach them. These stains can come from tetracycline antibiotics, coffee, tobacco, and red wine. It may be impossible to bleach these very darkly stained teeth because the stain has penetrated deep into the middle of the tooth.
Cosmetic dentistry can help with these darkly stained teeth. It can also help with crooked teeth and misshapen teeth when you don’t want to braces. One of the biggest elements to cosmetic dentistry is dental veneers. Veneers work really well for stained, chipped, and moderately crowded teeth. They can also work to fill in the gaps between the teeth. These gaps are known in the business as diastemas and they can be unsightly. Cosmetic dentistry and veneers can fill all of those gaps in with beautiful dental porcelain. Veneers are basically a new outer covering for the tooth and they are made of full porcelain. They are strong and they are bonded to the front of the teeth. You can take totally crooked, stained, and broken teeth and with dental veneers we can completely transform them in about a day.
If the teeth are really broken down then we can put porcelain crowns on them. Veneers cover about half the tooth and crowns cover most of the tooth. Crowns are good if there are a lot of broken teeth, large cavities, and old leaking mercury fillings. Crowns can totally recover the enamel and make it beautiful and well aligned again.
For my patients who are grinders, cosmetic dentistry can give you back normal teeth again. Grinders usually have short and chipped front teeth. Over time the grinding can make the teeth look like little nubs. Cosmetic dentistry can make them normal sized and youthful again.
There a lot of tools in the cosmetic dentistry tool bag to make you look and feel your best. It is all about getting your confidence back. Many of my patients ask me how many teeth they should restore so they get the best results from their procedures. The honest answer is it depends. Some patients have really small smiles where they just show 8 front teeth when they talk and smile. I have other patients who have big smiles who show most of their top and bottom teeth when they talk and smile. In general we like to do 10 top front teeth when we do our cosmetic dentistry. Sometimes we have to do 12 and sometimes we have to also include the bottom front 10 or 12 too. It all just depends. If the back teeth are also broken down or if they have cavities, then we have to restore all of the front and back teeth. This allows them to be matched perfectly for color and the bite.
For many of my patient’s they have thought about doing cosmetic dentistry for a long time—I’m talking years, if not decades. One of the big reason why patient’s wait to come in is fear and the unknown. They don’t know how bad it is and are afraid to actually know what it is going to take to fix the teeth. It could also be from a dental phobia that started with bad experiences when they were kids at the dentist. This phobia can last a lifetime, so it is important to go to an extremely qualified provider who can handle these types of fears. Another reason why people wait so long is finances. Cosmetic dentistry can be a real financial investment. What I have found time and time again from patients is that the money they invested in their mouths is the best money they have ever invested. For so many people their teeth have held them back their whole lives, and to finally have a smile they can be proud of totally changes their confidence.
Some of these cosmetic dentistry procedures can take many hours to complete. That can be a long time in the dental chair! We generally sedate our patients for these visits to make them comfortable and make it so they have almost not memory of their visit at all. This is a miracle to our patients who are nervous.
When do our veneers and crowns you can have your new smile in about a day. Yes, just 24 hours and you can have a new smile. The day that we sedate you and prepare all of the teeth, we also make you temporaries that look almost like the final porcelain ones. It takes the dental ceramist about three to four weeks to make your permanent restorations, so you wear the beautiful temporaries during this time.
Once your cosmetic dentistry is done it is time to smile again and enjoy going out and being social. Care is pretty simple. You need to brush and floss daily and come in for regular cleanings with a hygienist. For patients who are grinders they need be aware of the grinding first in order to stop and they most likely will need to wear a bite guard at night. With your cosmetic dentistry you should also stay from really hard and sticky foods, like caramels and hard breads. Also, don’t chew ice. It’s not good for natural teeth and it definitely isn’t good for your cosmetic dentistry.
Here is what to expect over five to ten years with your cosmetic dentistry. If you did braces, there may be some new crowding of the teeth over time because teeth can slowly shift. It is important to wear your retainer. If you just had to bleach your teeth just be prepared for monthly at-home bleach sessions to keep up the whiteness. If you did crowns or veneers there is a chance one or more of them may need to be replaced if they were to break or get a cavity under it (yes that can happen). There is a good chance that your crowns and veneers can last the rest of your life. And the very cool thing about crowns and veneers is that they never fade in color, so the color of your smile today will be the same in ten years from now.