What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is another option for beautifying your smile – on another level. It could be the most minor alteration or perhaps, something more involved. Whatever it is that needs to be worked on, there are a variety of cosmetic related procedures and techniques to treat discolored, chipped, misshapen or missing teeth. These procedures can not only improve your smile but they could also improve your bite.
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Common cosmetic procedures include bleaching, bonding, crowns, veneers and reshaping and contouring. We’ll briefly explain each of these procedures so you can see which one may be right for you.
Bleaching & Cosmetic Dentistry
Bleaching is a common chemical process used to whiten your teeth. This can be performed at the dentist or at home. Although many patients enjoy the convenience of bleaching at home, your dentist can create a custom mouthpiece to ensure the correct amount of whitening solution is used and that your teeth are properly exposed. Typically, whitening at home takes two to four weeks, depending on the desired shade you’d like to achieve. Whitening in the office may take one or more 45-minute to one-hour visits.
Bonding & Cosmetic Dentistry
Bonding is tooth-colored material used to fill in gaps for small cavities or to change the color of teeth. It can also be used to close spaces between teeth or cover the outside surface of a tooth to change its color and shape. This procedure is more prone to staining or chipping than other types of restoration, but when teeth are chipped or slightly decayed, bonded composite resins may be the material of choice. Requiring a single office visit, bonding can last several years.
Crowns & Cosmetic Dentistry
Crowns, also known as caps, cover a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and appearance. This procedure is quite costly so it is performed in cases where other procedures will not be as effective. Crowns have the longest lifetime warranty of all cosmetic restorations, but are the most time-consuming and costly.
Veneers & Cosmetic Dentistry
Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic placed over the front teeth to change the color or shape of your teeth. They are used on teeth with uneven surfaces or those that are chipped, discolored, oddly shaped, unevenly spaced or crooked. This treatment, which is a less expensive alternative to crowns, requires your dentist to take an impression of your tooth and little to no anesthesia. Before the custom-made veneer is placed directly onto the tooth, your dentist will lightly buff the tooth to compensate for the added thickness of the veneer. Once the cement is between the veneer and your tooth, a light beam is used to harden it. Porcelain veneers require more than one visit because they are fabricated in a laboratory but they last much longer than bonding.
Contouring and Reshaping & Cosmetic Dentistry
Tooth reshaping and contouring is a procedure to correct crooked teeth, chipped or irregularly shaped teeth or even overlapping teeth in just one session. This procedure is used to alter the length, shape or position of your teeth and may also help correct small problems with bite. This is ideal for candidates with normal, healthy teeth but who want subtle changes to their smile. Your dentist will take X-rays to evaluate the size and location of the pulp of each tooth to ensure that there’s enough bone between the teeth to support them.
If you are considering a treatment, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recommends that you ask your dentist for the following items before undergoing treatment:
- Before and after photos of other patients
- References from patients in Athens, GA
- Proof of continuing education (Be certain that your dentist has taken continuing education courses to keep him or her up-to-date with the latest techniques in clinical cosmetic dentistry.)
Just remember that the condition of your teeth and your desired results often indicate the best procedure for you. We look forward to seeing you and your new and improved smile in the wonderful City of Athens, Georgia.