Cosmetic Dentistry is often assumed to be limited to elective types of procedures like veneers, whitening, and braces. It is also mostly thought of in relation to treatment on the front 6-8 teeth. In reality, much of what dentists do can be considered cosmetic. As a cosmetic dentist, I take as much pride in matching natural teeth in function, looks, and durability when I am working on the back teeth as I do when I am working on the front teeth.
I don’t spend most of my day doing elective procedures on the rich and famous. I do many cases like that, but most of the time I am fixing damage from disease, neglect, trauma, and age. The main difference is the attention to detail and treatment choices that help to blend the artificial into the natural seamlessly. A Dentist who chooses to use metal material for example to do a filling is mainly focusing on patching the hole or crack. He or She may do a fantastic job of it, but with complete disregard for the cosmetics of the tooth being repaired. An aesthetic minded dentist would almost always make the repair invisible. I like to think that everything I do is Cosmetic Dentistry.
Many times each week, I meet people who are dissatisfied with their smile for one reason or another. It seems most of them assume that veneers are the solution. That is usually not the case. Here is a short list of treatments in the order I would prefer to use them and a description of what they are and why I would choose them.
Orthodontics and Whitening
My first choice is always straight, white, natural teeth. This can be done with a variety of orthodontic treatments and whitening procedures. The real advantage here is that the teeth are not artificially enhanced so the long term maintenance and costs are minimal. The disadvantage, for adults particularly, is they have to wear some type of brace-like appliances for a period of time.
Bonding and Micro-abrasion
These procedures are small addition or subtraction procedures where minor size, shape, or color issues can be resolved. They are usually fairly inexpensive but can make drastic improvements. Removal of chips or blemishes is permanent but addition of small amounts of color blended filling materials can have life expectancy of 5-15 years.
Tooth Colored Fillings
This has become the preferred method of filling small holes and chips in teeth. It falls in the Cosmetic category because there are still so many ugly metal and early generation composite fillings in teeth. People are starting to seek this treatment to eliminate the old restorations.
Dental Veneers or Crowns
Veneers are porcelain facings that cover the visible surfaces of the teeth. Crowns are the same but cover the whole tooth. Veneers are usually done in cases where there is some defect that is just too large or comprehensive to fix with simple bonding of filling material. Examples would be; congenitally undersized or poorly developed teeth, extreme color problems, natural or traumatic wear and tear, or crooked teeth in patients unwilling or unable to complete orthodontics. Veneers are most commonly fabricated of porcelain and cemented to the teeth. The advantage is durability and color stability. I commonly see veneers that are 20 years old still looking very good.
Implants, Bridges, Dentures
These are options for replacing teeth that are already missing or teeth that cannot be saved. I will explain them individually in a later post.
If you want more details now, check out the videos on our website or contact me directly via my office.
Brandon Taylor DMD