Cosmetic dentistry can help alleviate uneven, broken, or discoloured teeth. Cosmetic dentistry is not considered a dental specialty, and all dentists can claim to be cosmetic dentists. Treatments commonly include bleaching teeth, repairing chips, filling cavities, reshaping teeth, closing gaps, or covering broken teeth. The majority of cosmetic dentistry treatments are for smile enhancement.
Bleaching is a common chemical whitening process. People may bleach their teeth to neutralize tooth stains or to whiten the general colour of a set of teeth. Discolouration can be caused by specific foods such as coffee or tea, other chemicals such as medication and cigarettes, aging, or hereditary genes. Bleaching may be accomplished at a dental office or at home. Dental office procedures will typically take less than one hour, while bleaching at home may be a gradual process that takes place over 4-6 weeks.
Tooth reshaping can correct crooked, chipped, overlapping, or irregular teeth. Tooth reshaping can also change the length, shape or position of the tooth. Bonding is commonly used with reshaping to resolve teeth concerns and is best for those who do not have severe teeth issues but would like to slightly alter their smiles or appearance of their set of teeth.
Bonding is a temporary solution that involves a tooth-coloured substance, typically resin, to fill in tooth gaps or change the colour of a tooth. Bonding can last several years but is susceptible to chipping or staining. Bonding is also used to fill in cavities. Large amounts of resin can be put together to change the shape of an existing tooth, or resin can be thinly applied on the entire tooth surface to change its colour.
Veneers are typically made of porcelain or plastic and can change the shape or colour of teeth. Veneers are used in similar circumstances as bonding and are less expensive alternatives to crowns. When applying a veneer, the dentist will take an impression of the tooth to create a custom veneer that will be cemented directly to the tooth. A light beam is then used to harden the veneer. Veneers will last longer and have more colour stability than bonding.
Crowns, or caps, are placed on the entire tooth to restore a normal appearance. Crowns can be expensive and are typically reserved for circumstances in which other procedures would be ineffective. Crowns have the longest lifespan but may require longer dentist visits.
“Cosmetic Dentistry.” Medline Plus, U.S National Library of Medicine, 4 Dec. 2017.
“What is Cosmetic Dentistry?” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry, Jan. 2012.