A bright and picture-perfect smile gives a boost of energy and confidence to both the person wearing it and the person viewing it. Any uneasiness or concerns about the appearance and comfort of a smile can be unequivocally be looked after by a cosmetic dentist.
Cosmetic dentistry encompasses the dental efforts that improve and enhance the aesthetic function of the teeth, gums, the bite, and the smile of a person. The problems can be in:
- the teeth- in the shape, size, structure, colour, position, or alignment
- the gums- being excessive, gummy smile, or receded.
Cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized sub-speciality of dentistry, but it is promoted by many dentists and sought by many more people.
Various cosmetic treatment options for the innumerable teeth and gum concerns have been developed in the last couple of decades. These include adding material to the teeth or gums, removing teeth or gums, neither removing or adding, and teeth straightening and scaling procedures.
- Dental bonding – Bonding is one of the easiest and cheapest methods for correcting smile. It utilizes a tooth-coloured, durable-plastic material called resin, to fix any chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, to fill gaps between smaller teeth, and improve the overall shape of the teeth. It is also used in place of silver amalgam in fillings. The resin is applied to the tooth, moulded into the desired shape, and hardened with a light beam. It lasts a few years and it is prone to get chipped and cracked if not cared for.
- Veneers – These are ultra-thin laminates or shells of either porcelain or resin-based compounds, that are fixed onto the front-facing surfaces of teeth. Veneer placement is an irreversible procedure to conceal any defects in shape, size, length, and colour of the teeth. It is also suggested when teeth don’t respond to whitening procedures. Veneers require a certain amount of healthy tooth enamel to be present for them to be fixed on. These are easily managed and typically last from 7 to 14 years.
- Crowns – Hollow tooth-shaped caps that cover the whole tooth in question are called crowns. These are usually fixed as part of root canal procedures and to cover weak or small-sized teeth to give them an enhanced structure, strength, and appearance. Crowns can be made of porcelain-fused-to-metal, metal, resin, or ceramic. The procedure requires some tooth grinding before the crown is fixed over it with cement. A crown typically lasts 5 to 15 years. Other types of crowns include onlays and three-quarter crowns that only partly cover the tooth.
- Enamel reshaping – Reshaping or contouring of the enamel gives a smoothness to the teeth line and removes any minor irregularities of teeth structure. It is quick, painless, and does not involve any other agent or chemical. It is commonly used to correct long tooth, crooked teeth, and overcrowding. It can be combined with other procedures like bonding, veneers, braces, and whitening to give the best outcomes.
- Braces/Orthodontics – This includes aligning the teeth over time with continuous, mild pressure, using brackets and wires. These are quite common nowadays and correct misaligned, gapping, and overcrowding teeth. Braces affect the bony socket slowly and progressively taking from 6 months to 3 years to improve the teeth line and the bite. Braces can be the traditional ones with the metallic brackets, or with clear, tooth coloured or multicoloured brackets. Another type of braces attaches to the back of the teeth, making it invisible to the viewers. A clear mould-type brace is now also available, which acts as transparent braces and moves teeth into proper alignment with the mould adjusted regularly.
- Teeth Whitening – Whitening or teeth bleaching is also one of the most common, cheap and effective procedures undertaken. Teeth whitening is done by a range of products; toothpastes, rinses, and OTC gels, strips and trays, and special whitening agents available at the dentist’s clinic. These options work better with yellow-toned teeth rather than greyish-toned and are not advised for unhealthy teeth and gums, or damaged ones. A laser light-mediated whitening approach is also available and quite effective compared to conventional methods.
- Composite fillings – These filings usually replace existing fillings that are broken or chipped, or in cases of aesthetic or safety issues with silver amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are tooth-coloured and natural-looking. These are slightly less enduring as larger fillings compared to the smaller fillings.
- Implants – Implants or prosthetic tooth replacement is the treatment opted when the tooth cannot be salvaged in terms of damage by carries, trauma or gum disease. The artificial tooth root, made of titanium, is surgically placed into the jaw bone and provides a good base for the tooth/ The teeth, on the other hand, can be permanent or removable artificial teeth, crowns or dentures.
- Dentures – One or a set of artificial teeth with surrounding tissue support are called dentures. These replace the lost tooth and provide for their function and aesthetic needs. Complete dentures are a set of teeth and partial ones are just a few numbers of artificial teeth with natural ones. Dentures can be fixed with the help of crowns and bridges to the adjacent teeth, or be removable. These require extra care for maintenance and repeated follow-ups for adjustments and relining.
- Bridges – The bridge refers to the connecting metal framework that runs from one tooth to the other covering the gap left by removed tooth/teeth in between them. These form part of the fixed partial dentures to replace one or more lost teeth and attach to the adjacent natural teeth with the help of crowns. Bridges require high oral hygiene upkeep as they carry the risk of oral infections. The average life of bridges is similar to that of crowns, about 10 years.
- Gum reshaping and gum lift – A gummy smile, uneven gum line, or excessive gums are treated with gum contouring and gum lift. The dentist sculpts the gums to give an appropriate gum-to-tooth distinctness ratio and symmetry of teeth line. Sometimes excess bone is also removed to expose hidden enamel and give the tooth its required length
- Gum grafts – Exposed teeth roots due to gum recession or damaged to the gums are covered by grafts from adjoining gums. Exposed roots are painful: receded gums can cause sensitivity in teeth and makes the tooth appear longer. It also predisposes to cavities in roots, root infections, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss.
Smile makeovers take into action one or more of these procedures. The final result gives a dramatically improved and healthier smile. The dentist thinks through and discusses the procedures with the concerned person thoroughly. The risks and results are notified to the patient and consented to before the execution of the plans. It may be costly yet a worthy investment to boost confidence and make the person healthier.
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