Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: A Relax Dental Guide to Achieving Your Best Smile
Cosmetic dentistry is a broad term that can mean different things to different people. Some associate cosmetic dentistry with dramatic procedures—thinking of it as the plastic surgery of the dental profession. Others may realize that even minor and non-invasive procedures like teeth whitening fall under the cosmetic dentistry umbrella. And while it’s true that all cosmetic dental procedures have an aesthetic goal of enhancing your appearance, many of these procedures can also positively impact the form and function of your teeth. The popularity of cosmetic dentistry procedures has been surging in recent years, and it’s no surprise. Everyone wants to have a bright and beautiful smile! With so many reasons to consIder cosmetic dentistry procedures, it makes sense to learn a little more about your options from your local experts. Read on for our complete guide to achieving your best smile!
Why Consider a Cosmetic Dental Procedure?
Americans have always placed a premium on dental health and wellness, and the aesthetic appearance of their smile is a big part of the total package. A recent study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that 80% of respondents were willing to spend money to maintain a youthful appearance, and 62% believed that their smile was the most important part of that investment. People associate a great smile with confidence, attractiveness, and even competence, and 48% of the respondents believe that a person’s smile is the most important and most lasting part of a first impression.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: What Are the Options?
From minor and non-invasive to full cosmetic plastic surgery, there is a wide spectrum of cosmetic dentistry procedures available to address your unique needs. Those options include:
- Teeth Whitening
- Dental Bonding
- Dental Veneers
- Orthodontia and Invisalign®
- Dental Crowns and Bridges
- Inlays and Onlays
- Dental Implants
- Full Mouth Reconstruction
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is the most popular and commonly used procedure in the world of cosmetic dentistry. Many things can cause our teeth to darken, including consumption of certain staining foods and beverages, some medications, and aging. There are several at-home whitening treatments you can try to address the issue, but if you’re interested in brightening your smile in a more significant and long-lasting way, you should consider in-office treatments. In office whitening treatments use a bleaching agent, often in conjunction with heat, a special light, or a laser. Results are fast—you can often see the difference at the end of one 60 minute treatment session.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Dental Bonding
Dental bonding involves using a tooth-colored, putty-like resin—a form of durable plastic—to cover the front of the tooth. The resin is cured (hardened) with a laser or ultraviolet light. This curing process will bond the resin to the tooth and give it a durable finish. Once the resin is cured, the dentist will trim and shape the material, then polish it. Bonding can repair teeth that are chipped, cracked, decayed, or misshapen; it is also a good cosmetic alternative to, or replacement for, dark colored fillings. Bonding usually takes about an hour or less per tooth.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Dental Veneers
Sometimes known as “Hollywood teeth,” dental veneers are extremely thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored resin or porcelain that cover the front surface of the teeth. They can be used to address gaps and issues with color, shape, size, and alignment. During the application of dental veneers, your dentist will remove a very small amount (about a half-millimeter) of enamel from your tooth surface, then attach the new shells with a special type of dental bonding agent. The dental veneer application procedure is typically longer and more expensive than dental bonding.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Orthodontia
Orthodontia is the branch of dentistry that deals with abnormalities of the face and jaw. Although many people think that of orthodontia as a rite of passage for American teenagers, the truth is that people of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Many adults are choosing to straighten their smile with both traditional and more modern orthodontic treatment options. An orthodontist will use devices such as braces to address issues such as
- Crooked teeth
- Issues with bite (underbite or overbite)
- Gaps between teeth
- Misalignment between lips and teeth
In addition to traditional metal braces, orthodontists may also use retainers, wired headgear, and other dental appliances that may be temporarily or permanently installed in the mouth.
In recent years, an exciting development in orthodontia has allowed patients of all ages to achieve all of the cosmetic and functional benefits of braces without the pain, hassle, and appearance of metal braces. Invisalign orthodontic treatment uses clear plastic trays—called aligners— that fit comfortably over your teeth. Patients wear the Invisalign aligner trays day and night to gradually shift their teeth, moving them into proper alignment and delivering a spectacular smile.
Invisalign aligners are very thin and totally clear, so they are virtually undetectable once they are on your teeth. In fact, most people will never know you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment when you choose the Invisalign system.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Dental Crowns and Bridges
A dental crown, also known as a cap, replaces an entire decayed or damaged tooth by fitting over the tooth above the gum line. Installing a crown will restore a tooth’s shape, size, strength, and appearance. A crown can hold a weak or cracked tooth together to prevent it from breaking completely, or can be used for strictly cosmetic purposes like disguising discoloration or other cosmetic issues. Dentists usually make crowns from resin, ceramic, metal, or porcelain-fused-to-metal.
A dental bridge is used to bridge a gap where a tooth is missing. In this type of cosmetic dentistry procedure, the dentist will use crowns on either side of the gap to secure a false tooth in place. The crowns will serve as the attachment points for the false tooth, holding it in place.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Inlays and Onlays
You dentist may opt to use Inlays and onlays as an alternative to fillings and/or crowns when dealing with decayed or damaged teeth. Typically made of gold, porcelain, or composite materials, inlays and onlays may also be called indirect fillings. Unlike traditional dental fillings, which are molded into place during an office visit, inlays and onlays are created in a dental laboratory and bonded into place in the office by your dentist. If the material is bonded within the center of the tooth, it is an “inlay.” If the bonding material covers the biting surface of the tooth, it is called an “onlay.” One kay benefit of using inlays and onlays is the preservation of more healthy tooth tissue.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Dentures
Dentures are replacement teeth that are totally removable. Most people remove their dentures each night before sleeping. Dentures are typically more fragile and less convenient and comfortable than implants, but they can be a good, cost-effective solution for people who are unable or unwilling to invest in dental implants.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Dental Implants
A dental implant specialist will use titanium to create replacement tooth roots that are implanted into the bone socket of the missing tooth. The titanium root will service as the foundation for a replacement tooth. Dental implants are typically more expensive than dentures, but they provide many advantages, including:
- Implants are a permanent solution, while dentures come out each night
- Implants are stronger than dentures
- Implants are generally more comfortable and make it easier to eat and speak normally
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Full Mouth Reconstruction
Full mouth reconstruction refers to rebuilding and/or replacing all of the teeth in a patient’s mouth. In this type of comprehensive treatment plan, the dentist may use a combination of crowns, dentures, implants, or other options to restore the patient’s smile after severe and pervasive dental disease, oral cancer, or other significant oral issues have affected all of the teeth in the patient’s mouth. Full mouth reconstruction focuses on function, health, and beauty while bringing a patient’s smile back to life.
Why Choose Relax for Your Cosmetic Dental Procedure?
At Relax Dental of the Triad and Relax Dental of Burlington, we offer the best of both worlds—the highly trained team of world class experts in a comfortable hometown setting that’s designed to alleviate anxiety and stress. Our dentists place a premium on continuing education and maintaining the highest standards for quality of care, cleanliness, and safety. The end result is a beautifully restored smile you can be proud of. Set up a consultation or appointment today!