Get Your Smile Back!
You probably have heard the term “cosmetic dentistry” in advertisements on television and radio. However, the American Dental Association has no recognized specialty for the area of cosmetic dentistry. The actual work a cosmetic dentist does goes far beyond simply giving you a whiter smile.
The primary function of a cosmetic dentist is to make the necessary repairs to your teeth to ensure you can chew, eat, and have a natural smile. Procedures such as teeth whitening and bonding are also a part of a cosmetic dentist’s job, but are a secondary consideration until the mouth and gums are stable and healthy.
A patient will need to visit a cosmetic dentist when problems such as broken or chipped teeth, teeth that have grown in crooked, or missing teeth are discovered. These types of problems directly affect your ability to eat and speak normally, and need to be addressed quickly. There are a number of treatment options available, and the amount of time required to complete the treatment plan will vary based upon the type of problem encountered and the method the cosmetic dentist decides to be the best course of action for the patient.
Braces are one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures. Often found in the mouths of adolescents and teenagers, these are devices that are used to straighten teeth at an early stage of development to prevent further dental issues later in life. There are silver braces used today, but many cosmetic dentists will use a clear brace to conceal the fact that the patient is wearing braces to minimize social discomfort. This is one example where a necessary dental procedure can be both functional and cosmetic.
Partial dentures are another example of what a cosmetic dentist does. People who have missing teeth need to get them replaced in order to chew properly and be able to continue eating properly. A partial denture requires a bridge that attaches itself to healthy existing teeth and gums and is fitted with artificial teeth. Because the bridge is an unnatural part of a patient’s mouth, it is important to maintain good dental health to avoid problems as minor as bad breath or as major as gum infection.
Implants are becoming a more common procedure for the cosmetic dentist. This procedure is used to replace missing teeth with permanent artificial teeth that are created by drilling into the underlying bone of the patient’s mouth and securing the teeth with a metal anchor. Technology and techniques have improved the success rate of dental implants to well over 95 percent.
Beyond the dental health issues, a cosmetic dentist can also perform purely cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening and gum leveling. These are areas where the purpose is aesthetic, and has no connection to good dental health. However, there is a definite connection to a patient’s self-esteem and social confidence, giving cosmetic dental procedures a high value in the overall psychological health of the patient.
Teeth whitening is often achieved by a process called bleaching. The patient generally can choose between an in-office procedure that usually takes only one or two visits, or a home whitening system that can take between 2 and 4 weeks to achieve the final result. Home kits are more convenient for many patients as they do not require their normal daily routine to be interrupted by keeping dental appointments. In either case, the results will be very similar. While teeth whitening will make the teeth appear to be cleaner, the patient must realize that they need to continue practicing good oral hygiene. Often, the roles of a cosmetic dentist and general dentist are combined for aesthetic procedures.