What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
A combination of art and science, cosmetic dentistry goes much further than just giving people the smile they’ve always dreamt of. The primary focus of dental aesthetics may be on improvement of appearance but this blends seamlessly with ensuring the functionality of the teeth and bite function.
Many people choose cosmetic dentistry because an individual’s smile is perceived as an important part of his or her personality. In fashioning an attractive smile, cosmetic dentists also ensure your teeth are doing their job – playing a major role in speech and digestion, and allowing you to enjoy your food.
General dentistry primarily provides preventive and restorative treatments such as fillings, root canals, and other types of tooth repair. Cosmetic dentistry focuses on enhancing a patient’s smile but also embraces restorative treatments.
The bottom line of cosmetic dentistry is that it makes people happy by restoring their self-confidence with a healthy smile.
How Cosmetic Dentistry Can Bring Back Your Self-Regard
Smiling makes you feel good about yourself as well as making you appear more attractive to others. Being too embarrassed or ashamed to show your smile will invariably lead to loss of self-esteem as you try to hide your crooked or stained teeth from view.
If you’re lucky and have no problem flashing your smile at the drop of a hat, you most likely take this natural, simple expression of happiness for granted. However, for those less fortunate, their lives can be miserable without the help of cosmetic dentistry to enable them to show their inner self and their true feelings.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) stresses that aesthetic dental work to enhance a patient’s teeth and smile must go hand in hand with safeguarding their oral health and general wellbeing.
The AACD urges cosmetic dentists to make treatment decisions based on proven protocols and sound clinical judgment. The organization also advocates the use of innovative technology and materials to provide a successful and long-lasting solution.
Why Your Smile is So Important
There’s a solid body of evidence pointing to the importance of an attractive smile.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, more than 85 percent of adults believe that an unappealing smile makes people less attractive to the opposite sex.
The AACD also says that an individual with a good-looking smile is regarded as being more intelligent. The American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics (AJO-DO) agrees with this assertion and adds that a person’s appearance can even affect their prospects of landing a job.
Further evidence of negative judgments about people with crooked teeth comes from a perception study that found alignment of teeth led to assumptions about, popularity, success, intelligence, and general health.
According to the study, carried out by consultancy agency Kelton Global, many Americans notice teeth when first meeting someone, and this affects what they recall about them afterward. Two-thirds of people in the U.S. said they were more likely to remember pleasant features than those they found unattractive.
Another Kelton survey, conducted on behalf of the AACD, concluded that first positive impressions boiled down to the power of an attractive smile.
Typical Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments
Cosmetic dentistry has evolved significantly from simply repairing damaged teeth. It now covers an extensive range of aesthetic procedures, including teeth whitening, veneers, bonding, crowns, bridges, dentures, and implants.
Professional teeth-whitening provides an alternative to repeat applications of messy and less effective over-the-counter whitening products. Materials available to a cosmetic dentist contain stronger bleaching agents to produce better results, and your dentist will protect your gums from irritation during treatment.
A skilled cosmetic dentist can address problems of discoloration of both enamel and dentin and will monitor every stage of the whitening procedure to enable adjustments to the levels of the whitening agent. An in-office whitening generally takes about an hour, typically with dramatic results.
Porcelain veneers are customized for each patient to conceal stained or cracked teeth, or to close gaps between teeth. These tooth-colored shells are cemented onto the front of teeth. Because veneers are individually made for each patient, they match the shape and color of adjacent teeth. Being translucent, veneers interact with light just like natural dental enamel.
Tooth bonding is an alternative to veneers to disguise discolored teeth, gaps, and cracked enamel. A tooth-colored resin is bonded to the surface of the tooth with a laser or ultra-violet light. Bonding can also repair decayed teeth when the resin is applied to a cavity.
Crowns (aka caps) fit over the remaining part of a damaged tooth to strengthen it and give it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown can also be used to enhance the appearance of a discolored filling, protect a root filling, or help to hold dentures or a bridge securely in place.
Bridges are replacement teeth fused to a frame, used in cases of several missing teeth. Besides restoring your smile, bridges enable correct bite function, maintain the shape of the face, and prevent remaining teeth from moving out of position. They can be made from porcelain, gold or alloys, or a combination of these materials, and are bonded onto surrounding teeth for support.
According to The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, the number of adults in the U.S. needing dentures is expected to rise from 33.6 million in 1991 to 37.9 million in 2020. A cosmetic dentist can make sure that your removable full or partial dentures look natural.
An alternative to conventional dentures, dental implants can transform a patient’s life in terms of both functionality and aesthetics, whether used as multiple implants to support a full or partial denture, or a single implant to support a crown.
Embracing Innovative Technology
Modern cosmetic dentistry, with its hi-tech equipment, is a far less daunting experience for patients than it used to be. Top practitioners in cosmetic dentistry embrace innovative technology to maximize comfort, convenience, and quality of treatment for their patients.
A current game-changer in cosmetic dentistry is the CEREC system, the high-tech medical device company. This Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) system creates crowns, veneers, inlays, and onlays for same-day tooth restoration with high-grade ceramic material compatible with the natural tissue in the mouth.