If your teeth are stained, discolored, worn, chipped, broken, misaligned, misshapen, or have gaps between them, modern cosmetic dentistry can give you a better smile. A “smile makeover” improves the appearance of your smile through one or more cosmetic dentistry procedures. Cosmetic dentists work with you to develop a treatment plan. Below you’ll find some information that can help you learn more about the various types of cosmetic dental procedures available.
Types of Cosmetic Dentistry
Teeth whitening can be one of the simplest and least expensive ways to improve your smile. Teeth can be bleached with in-office products in your dentist’s office, or you can buy a mold and gels from your dentist to bleach your teeth at home. There are also whitening products available over the counter at retail stores for convenient at-home whitening: whitening toothpaste, rinses, and Whitestrips.
Dental veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored porcelain or resin that cover the front surface of the teeth. After removing about a half-millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, these thin shells are bonded (cemented) to the front of the teeth, changing their color, shape, size, or length. Veneers are often called “Hollywood teeth.”
In dental bonding, a tooth-colored, putty-like resin, which is a durable plastic material, is applied to the tooth and hardened with an ultraviolet or laser light, bonding the material to the tooth. Your dentist then trims, shapes, and polishes it. Bonding can repair decayed, chipped, cracked, or misshapen teeth; it is also a good cosmetic alternative to, or replacement for, amalgam or silver fillings.
A dental crown, also called a cap, fits over and replaces the entire decayed or damaged tooth above the gum line, restoring its shape, size, strength, and appearance. Crowns keep a weak tooth from breaking or hold a cracked tooth together; they can be used cosmetically to cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth. Crowns can be made from metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal, resin, or ceramic.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays, also called indirect fillings, are made from gold, porcelain, or composite materials and fill decayed or damaged teeth. Dental fillings are molded into place during an office visit; however, inlays and onlays are created in a dental laboratory and bonded into place by your dentist. The filling is called an “inlay” when the material is bonded within the center of a tooth; it is called an “onlay” when the filling includes one or more points of the tooth or covers the biting surface. Inlays and onlays preserve as much healthy tooth as possible and are an alternative to crowns.
Dental implants are titanium replacement tooth roots inserted into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely in the jaw and providing a foundation for a replacement tooth.
A bridge is made of crowns for the teeth on either side of a gap with false teeth in between. A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth. Dental braces can straighten crooked or misaligned teeth and works by applying continuous pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction.