Any dental work that is aimed at improving teeth, bite and gum appearance can be referred as cosmetic dentistry or cosmetic dental treatment. Before deciding on any form of treatment, it is important to understand the risks and benefits associated with each; the cost and the level of special maintenance required afterwards. The following are some of the most common cosmetic dental treatments;
- Orthodontics. teeth straightening and appearance improvement.
- Gingivectomy and Enameloplasty, which involves the removal of gums or tooth structure.
- Dental material addition to teeth or gums. This can be through gum grafting, bonding, laminates/porcelain veneers and crowns among others.
- Teeth bleaching/whitening and gum depigmentation; both of which do not involve addition or removal of dental material, gums or tooth structure.
I. Teeth Bleaching/Whitening and Gum Depigmentation
Food consumption, taking beverages e.g. coffee, some Oral medication and smoking, can discolor or stain teeth over time. To restore them to initial state or even whiter, a teeth bleaching procedure has to be undertaken either by the dentist himself or by oneself at home.
Despite the fact that home bleaching takes more time (up to four weeks) for desired results compared to in-office bleaching,most people prefer it because of its convenience. The dentist custom creates a perfectly fitting mouthpiece tray to be used at home with the correct amount of bleaching solution (peroxide).
After bleaching, it is important to maintain high level standard of Oral Hygiene and healthy living by not exposing your teeth to substances that initially stained them, lest they stain again. Ensure to brush after every meal or at least twice each day and floss once each day to get rid of disease causing bacteria and accumulated plaque between teeth.
Gum depigmentation or gum bleaching involves the removal of black patches or spots (as a result of excess melanin) from gums.Gums assume a pink color but due to melanin gingival hyperpigmentation(excess melanin deposits on gums),they may appear dark or black thus creating an aesthetic problem.This type of discoloration may as well be caused by certain types of medications.
Gum assessment is done and a customized form of treatment provided through surgery, laser ablation techniques or use of chemicals.
II. Orthodontics; teeth straightening and appearance improvement
Teeth straightening sometimes involve Teeth Sculpting or reshaping to improves teeth appearance by removing part of teeth enamel. It alters the position of tooth, its shape and even length. Other names used to refer to sculpting include; Contouring, Enameloplasty, Odontoplasty, Stripping and Re-Contouring among others. It is important to note that teeth reshaping sometimes exposes dentin.
Since it provides fast/quick results, some people substitute braces for it but only under very specific or special conditions.
III. Dental material addition; bonding, laminates/porcelain veneers and crowns among others.
Consider the following;
Bonding; bonding is done to teeth that are Chipped, Cracked, Broken or those with excessive space between them. It involves the use of bonding material to protect exposed root by filling small cavities and addition of material (tooth colored) or resins (composite)to the surface of the tooth which is then hardened and finally polished. If taken good care of, bonded material can last for a very long time.
Dental Bridges; are also called fixed-partial denture. Dental bridges are pontics or artificial teeth that are used in replacing missing teeth.They are usually made of porcelain, gold or allows. When dental bridging, Crowns are prepared, fused onto the surrounding teeth, the false tooth fixed and the bridge cemented.
Dental bridges can last for a very long time i.e. more than 10 years; but this depends on the level of Oral Hygiene observed.
Veneers; these are custom shells made of plastic or porcelain to cover front side of teeth in order to change their shape or color.Compared to bonding, Veneers provide a better teeth appearance and last longer. They are also cheaper to crowns. Veneers provide desired results for teeth that;
- Are stained. Either partially or permanently.
- Are worn or chipped.
- Have a poor shape.
- Leave too much space in between.
- Crooked, albeit slightly.
Before use of veneers, an impression of your teeth is taken, and then customized laminates bonded in place. A beam of light is thereafter used to harden the cement and securing the laminate to your tooth.
Because they are custom made and ultra-thin, Veneers are very good in disguising discolored teeth or those that don’t responded well to teeth bleaching procedures. They are also essential for closing gaps between teeth.
Crowns; another name for crowns is caps. By completely covering the tooth, crowns are able to restore the normal tooth shape and appearance. Teeth crowns are important if you;
- Wish to offer protection to a week tooth
- need to restore a worn or broken tooth
- need to cover a dental implant
- need your dental bridge to be firmly held in place
- wish to cover a tooth that has undergone root canal procedure
- have a discolored or misshaped tooth and need to cover it
- prefer to cover a tooth with a large filling
Compared to other cosmetic dental treatments, crowns are quite costly. They are therefore only used when all the other alternatives produce undesired results.
A temporary same day in office crown can be made by the dentist after taking a digital dental impression. Materials used include; resins, fused metal porcelain and metal just to mention a few. So long as they are taken good care of by maintaining high standards of Oral Dental Care, crowns can last for a very long time.
Braces; people with crooked and crowded teeth are usually advised to use braces so as to improve their appearance. Braces are also important for jaw joint disorders, jaw positioning and improving on irregular bites.
When braces are worn, they apply pressure to teeth for repositioning. To wear them, your orthodontist or dentist bonds metal, plastic or ceramic brackets to your teeth after which a wire is placed though the brackets to guide teeth into correct positions.
Apart from regular dental visits for tightening, Oral Hygiene needs to be observed. This form of dental treatment is very safe unless you are allergic to latex or metal.
Aligners; these are invisible braces for correcting minor teeth spacing problems. For effectiveness, they are usually reshaped and replaced after every two weeks and used with a retainer to hold teeth firmly in their new positions. Teeth aligners are removed when Brushing, Eating or Flossing.
Implants; in as much as implants are expensive and an involving form of Cosmetic Dental Treatment,they provides a long lasting remedy for replacing missing teeth.Implants are surgically fixed into the jaw bone and have three parts;
- The Crown; which is created by a restorative dentist. it has a natural and tooth like appearance
- The Abutment; that fits on the implant part sticking out of the gums
- Titanium Metal; which is fused to the jaw bone
Fitting of implants requires the following steps;
- a detailed examination is done, followed by x-rays and lots of consultations
- taking digital impressions of both lower and upper jaws
- creation of a model for development of crowns or dentures
- surgical titanium screw implantation and crown placements
- having a follow up examination with other implant team members
IV. Other Methods;
Apart from the above discussed methods, other periodontal procedures e.g. Gingivectomy and Enameloplasty can be used to correct an uneven gum line, exposed roots and other dental problems. It is important to do a comprehensive analysis with your dentist and settle on a procedure that best fits your needs in terms of preference, effectiveness, convenience and budget.