It wasn’t long ago that cosmetic procedures were a luxury reserved only for those who could afford the hefty price tag. These days, however, cosmetic dentistry is more available to more of the population all the time. Now, the smile of your dreams is available with many cosmetic services being offered by general dentists.
As dental technology has improved, so has the efficiency of dental procedures. This means that more people have access to cosmetic appointments that require less time to complete. Combined with modern anesthetics, cosmetic procedures are also available with little to no discomfort.
Not Just What You Think
Not all cosmetic services are purely elective – some of the services that are required to retain the health of your teeth also have a component of cosmetic dentistry. This is because procedures that require dental restoration are often restored using materials that are custom shaped and coloured for your mouth. After all, if your tooth has to be rebuilt in some way, why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to make the restoration look as good or better than the natural tooth that it is covering or replacing?
This is the case in situations where a tooth has been injured or decayed to the extent that the health of the tooth has been compromised too much to remain in the mouth without first having root canal therapy to stop infection and remove diseased tissue. When this occurs, the tooth will be cleaned out and sealed using gutta percha and a crown. A crown is a hollow false tooth made of composite material and is made in the shape and shade of your natural tooth. In this way, the crown is a necessary part of the procedure in order to protect the health of the tooth going forward, but it will also offer a pleasing aesthetic as it blends in with the look of its neighbouring teeth.
The same thing could be said of dental implants. When teeth are lost, the effects of bone resorption change the strength and shape of the jawbone. Implants support the maintenance of healthy jawbone density and provide cosmetic improvement to the mouth by filling what would otherwise be a gap with a custom-made false tooth.
Because of these combined therapeutic and cosmetic benefits, some procedures may be covered by insurance companies that do not otherwise provide coverage for cosmetic procedures.
Other Common Cosmetic Procedures
If you are unhappy with the spacing between your teeth, their colour or their shape, there are several opportunities for improvement with cosmetic dentistry. Your dentist may recommend bonding – the procedure involved with reshaping the tooth by painting or forming composite material over its prepared surface. This composite material can be colour matched to the rest of your teeth.
Alternatively, your dentist may recommend applying a veneer to your teeth – a tooth coloured shell that can be adhered to the front side of the tooth in question. Applying a veneer requires the removal of a thin layer of enamel (this is called etching the tooth). After one millimetre of enamel has been removed, the veneer can be adhered to the tooth with dental cement.
If you’ve lost a tooth and implants are not an option you’re considering at this time, consider installing a bridge to conceal the gap in the dental arch. This is achieved by applying crowns to neighbouring teeth and affixing a false tooth between them.
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Straightening your smile may be considered cosmetic if there is no clinical reason to undergo treatment otherwise. Teeth that are mildly to moderately crooked can be corrected discretely with the Invisalign® aligner system. Your dentist can complete a 360-degree scan in as little a few minutes in the clinic and based on this image they can show you what is possible for you with Invisalign® clear aligners.
An example of a purely cosmetic procedure is teeth whitening. Teeth whitening lightens the shade of the teeth and improves their appearance without impacting the function of the teeth themselves. Your dentist provides clinical strength whitening products which offer more bleaching power in fewer sessions than their over the counter alternatives.
Just because a service is considered purely cosmetic does not negate its very real effects on the personal self confidence of the patient. When you feel confident about the appearance of the teeth, you are not focused on how your teeth look when you should be fully engaged in interactions with others. You can let go of feeling the need to stifle your smiles for fear of exposing your teeth. The value that teeth you feel good about can bring to your life is immeasurable.
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.