Many people who do not have significant dental health problems are still unsatisfied with the color, shape, or alignment of their teeth. Cosmetic dentists provide an invaluable service by correcting aesthetic problems with the teeth that may not be directly related to health problems. Here are four procedures cosmetic dentists can perform to give you the bright, healthy smile you deserve.
Cavities can have a greater impact on the appearance of your teeth than almost any other dental problem. While fillings have long been an effective treatment for cavities, most have a metallic color that is very noticeable compared to the natural color of your enamel. Cosmetic dentists solve this problem by offering white fillings.
White fillings are made from dental resin, a synthetic composite of plastic and glass. These fillings provide excellent cosmetic results because they are virtually unnoticeable after they have been installed. If necessary, your dentist will whiten your teeth before placing your fillings so that they do not stand out as overly-bright spots.
While professional enamel whitening can be very effective for mild discoloration, some darker stains can still show through. Veneers are the next step a cosmetic dentist will use to whiten your teeth if standard whitening methods haven't been effective. Veneers are thin porcelain laminates that are placed over the enamel to both whiten and strengthen them.
Veneers are especially good at hiding dark spots caused by damage or decay in tooth pulp. Enamel is not entirely opaque, meaning that darkened tooth pulp can sometimes be visible even if the enamel is completely white. Veneers are opaque enough to hide this type of discoloration. Veneers are also much more stain-resistant enamel, and in most cases your veneers will remain perfectly white throughout their lifetime (often 20 years or more).
In addition to filling cavities, dental resin can be used to correct imperfections in the shape and structure of teeth. In a process known as dental bonding, resin is applied to the outside of a tooth's enamel and an ultraviolet light is used to harden it instantly. The most common uses for dental bonding are to seal cracked enamel and fill in a chipped tooth to restore it to its original shape.
Dental bonding can also be used to hide gaps between teeth. A cosmetic dentist will apply resin to both teeth on either side of the gap, widening them and making the gap less noticeable. Similarly, dentists can apply a thick layer of resin to undersized teeth and mold them so that they appear closer in size and shape to the rest of your teeth.
If your teeth are especially sensitive to heat, cold, sugars, or acidity, gum recession may have exposed the roots of your teeth. The root of a tooth lacks a protective layer of enamel, instead having a soft surface that can quickly erode and expose the dentin inside your tooth. Your dentist can reduce the sensitivity of your teeth by covering exposed roots with resin.
Dental contouring is the opposite procedure to bonding. While bonding builds on your teeth by adding resin, contouring reduces them by painlessly removing small sections of enamel using a sanding instrument. This allows cosmetic dentists to reshape oversized teeth and teeth with excessively sharp points.
Contouring can be used to correct another problem for which bonding is ineffective: crowding. Contouring can create natural-looking gaps between crowded teeth by sanding away sections of adjacent teeth that are touching or overlapping.
By using one or more of these procedures, a cosmetic dentist can correct almost any aesthetic problem with your teeth. Consider contacting a local cosmetic dentist if you are dissatisfied in any way with the appearance of your smile.