Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance (though not necessarily the function) of a person's teeth, gums and/or bite.
: Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth (no fillings) and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best. But this cosmetic procedure is not recommended for everyone.
In-office bleaching provides the quickest way to whiten teeth. With in-office bleaching, the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth. These products can be used in combination with heat, a special light, and/or a laser. Results are seen in only one, 30- to 60-minute treatment. But to achieve dramatic results, several appointments are usually needed. However, with in-office bleaching, dramatic results can be seen after the first treatment. This type of whitening is also the most expensive technique.
Tray-Based Tooth Whiteners
Tray-based tooth whitening systems, purchased either over-the-counter or from a dentist, involve filling a mouth guard-like tray with a gel whitening solution -- which contains a peroxide-bleaching agent. The tray is worn for a period of time, generally from a couple of hours a day to every day during the night for up to four weeks and even longer (depending on the degree of discoloration and desired level of whitening).
Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied and hardened with a special light, which ultimately "bonds" the material to the tooth to restore or improve person's smile.
Dental bonding is an option that can be considered:
- To repair decayed teeth (composite resins are used to fill cavities)
- To repair chipped or cracked teeth
- To improve the appearance of discolored teeth
- To close spaces between teeth
- To make teeth look longer
- To change the shape of teeth
- As a cosmetic alternative to amalgam fillings
- To protect a portion of the tooth's root that has been exposed when gums recede
Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement.
Veneers are routinely used to fix:
- Teeth that are discolored -- either because of root canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
- Teeth that are worn down
- Teeth that are chipped or broken
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them)
- Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)