Getting a missing tooth replaced, a tooth filled, whitening your teeth, or getting your teeth corrected………most of the time you will wish to get the most natural and aesthetic look. Your dentist may then recommend ‘Cosmetic dental treatment’ options. So in a very broad sense Cosmetic Dentistry includes treatment procedures that can improve the appearance. Your dentist will however help you plan your treatment to include improved function. So, cosmetic dental treatments can provide a wide range of benefits that improve looks, makes teeth cleaning easier and improve your confidence.
Who helps you with cosmetic dentistry?
Your dentist will examine you, make a diagnosis and then plan the treatment. Your dentist can involve the following specialities in helping you with your treatment.
- Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
- Conservative ( Aesthetic ) dentist
What are the materials used in cosmetic dentistry?
Earlier fillings with silver amalgam, gold and metals were commonly used. Now dental work can be done entirely with ceramic or composite materials. Both these are white or tooth coloured. With major advances in dental material sciences, amazing colour matching with good strength can be achieved with these materials.
What are the common Cosmetic Dentistry options?
Cosmetic dentistry can include different types of treatments like
- Addition of materials to teeth or gums. ( Tooth coloured fillings, tooth caps, tooth bridges, veneers, gum grafts )
- Removal of materials from teeth or gums. ( Enameloplasty, gingivectomy )
- Neither addition or removal of material from teeth or gums. (Teeth whitening, laser whitening, gums depigmentation)
- Straightening of teeth ( Braces and clip treatment, aligners )
- Teeth cleaning and polishing.
- Dental Implants.
Teeth whitening or Teeth Bleaching
Bleaching is a common cosmetic dental treatment which helps in lightening the colour of your teeth. Either hydrogen per oxide or carbamide per oxide are the chemicals used in teeth bleach. Your dentist will first evaluate your teeth and determine if you are eligible for a bleach. Home bleach kits are also available. However, talk to your dentist before using them.
Sometimes your dentist can use a light activated system ( LASER bleach ) to bleach your teeth. These are 6 times more effective than the normal chemicals. Your teeth are isolated and the chemical is applied. A beam of Argon rays is projected on to your teeth to activate the chemicals. This lightens the colour of your teeth.
Reshaping of teeth
Sometimes your dentist will remove a part of the enamel to correct small irregularities. Recontouring a small chip of the teeth, correcting the length or position of teeth, mild crowding can be corrected with these procedures. It is also called contouring, recontouring, stripping, enameloplasty, odontoplasty, slenderizing, cosmetic contouring. The removed enamel is irreplaceable. This is a quick fix for mild corrections.
Small fractures of teeth, moderate decay, erosion are some of the tooth defects that can be corrected with bonding. Here, your dentist will use a composite material to pack into the defect, contour it and polish to get the desired results. Filling of the front teeth becomes aesthetically critical.
Caps and Bridges
Tooth cap is a good way to cover and protect a damaged teeth. Generally caps are done after a tooth is saved with a RCT. Several tooth coloured materials provide good strength for the back teeth. Very good colour matching for the front teeth is also a great possibility with the help of digital imaging.
When caps are used to replace missing teeth, it is called a bridge. The teeth adjacent to the missing area are trimmed. Your dentist will then make an impression and send the cast to the lab. The lab ceramist fabricates the bridge. Your dentist will fix this into your mouth with an adhesive ( cement ). Bridges are a good and less expensive option to replace missing teeth. Bridges can last upto 10 years if you follow good oral hygiene habits.
Veneers are thin plates of ceramic that is made in the lab to fit into your mouth. Your dentist will fix this onto your prepared teeth. Gaps between teeth, mild crowding of teeth, changing the shape of teeth and changing the colour of teeth that does not respond to tooth whitening ( Dental Fluorosis ) are best restored with veneers. Very minimal tooth material is removed in preparing veneers. Your dentist will create a mock up before making the final restoration. This more up helps you get a clear picture of the final treatment outcome. This is an advantage of veneers for the front teeth, where your dentist wants to achieve high aesthetics.
Implants are great a option to replace missing teeth. Whether it is a single tooth replacement or the complete teeth set, implants can provide a stable support to the prosthesis. Implants use a titanium screw system that is placed surgically into your bone. This titanium screw integrates into the bone over a period of 3-6 months time. Your implantologist will fabricate the teeth on these screws once the screws are stabilised in the bone. Your dentist can recommend several diagnostic tests like x-rays and scans to access the quality of bone before staring the treatment.
Your gums are the backbone of the teeth. The strength and health of the gums are vital for the longevity of teeth in your mouth. Gum recession due to infections can be corrected with grafts. Your gum line can be changed to do a tooth lengthening procedure. This is especially useful in correcting a gummy smile. Lasers used in gum correcting offer more precision, less bleeding during the surgery and better post operative healing of the area. Depigmentation of darker gums is another cosmetic treatment option. Talk to your dentist/ periodontist to know more about gum corrections.
Crowded teeth are not only aesthetically unacceptable, but are also a trouble in maintaining good oral hygiene. Your orthodontist will help you in correcting irregular teeth. Correcting malocclusions is important to restore efficient chewing. The length of the treatment depends on the severity of the case. You dentist/ orthodontist will make of series of diagnostic aids to help you understand the treatment plan and the time required. Clear aligners can be used in some corrections. These do not use the conventional metal wires and brackets and are a good option in cosmetic teeth corrections.