What You Need to Know About Cosmetic Dentistry

Whether you’re looking to restore your smile or completely transform it, cosmetic dentistry can help you unlock newfound confidence in your smile. Cosmetic dentistry is a diverse field; it can fix issues as simple as discolored or chipped teeth or issues as complex as entire smile makeovers. With so many possibilities and treatment options, however, there’s a lot of room for confusion when you’re researching which option is best for you. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we hear our patients asking about cosmetic dentistry.

What is gum contouring?

Gum contouring is a procedure that is used to help patients who have either too much or too little of their gums showing in their smiles. It’s most commonly used to remedy gummy smiles, which are almost always caused by an excess of gum tissue. During the procedure, your dentist will use a laser to cut away the extra gum tissue, allowing more of your teeth to show in your smile. 

When not enough of your gums show in your smile, however, your teeth can end up looking too big or too long. Thankfully, gum contouring can also be used to solve toothy smiles. Your dentist will graft gum tissue where it’s needed, either using some of your own gum tissue or sterile donor tissue. Once you heal, you’ll have a beautifully proportionate smile.

I have a few veneers or crowns—what will happen if I whiten my teeth?

Teeth whitening treatments won’t harm your veneers or crowns, but it also won’t have any effect on their color. Unfortunately, this might mean that your veneer or crown will stick out, as it may not match the color of your natural teeth once your whitening treatment is done. If you’re considering whitening your teeth, it’s always best to get it done before you get your veneer or crown; this allows you to match the porcelain surface perfectly to the new, whiter shade of your natural teeth. If you do decide to whiten your teeth several years after getting a veneer or crown, you may want to replace it after your whitening treatment so it matches the new shade of your teeth.

Will teeth whitening treatments destroy my enamel?

This depends upon the whitening treatment. Professional whitening treatments will get your teeth many shades whiter than any at-home kits and are completely safe for your teeth. Over-the-counter whitening treatments are also relatively safe for your teeth, as long as you follow the directions closely. Using these treatments too often or for too long can damage your enamel or make your gums and teeth sensitive. As long as you follow the directions, however, these treatments are relatively safe and inexpensive ways to whiten your teeth at home. 

You should be very careful about natural at-home solutions you find on the internet, however; any natural whitening treatment that involves putting something acidic or abrasive on your teeth will erode your enamel over time. These whitening treatments might make your teeth look a little whiter initially but only because they’re getting rid of the surface stains on your teeth along with the enamel. Over time, the treatments will actually make your teeth yellower as the enamel erodes, showing more of the underlying dentin.

Do whitening toothpastes work?

Whitening toothpastes do work to remove surface stains, but they don’t get any deeper than that. If you want a deeper whitening treatment, you’re better off investing in a professional treatment at our office. Whitening toothpastes are a great way to help your whitening treatment last longer, however, as they’ll help remove surface stains as they form.

How do I close the gap in my smile?

If you have a gap in your smile, you actually have several options when it comes to closing it up. You can get braces or clear aligners to physically close the gap, use veneers to cover it, or close it using dental bonding. Aligners are a great way to kill two birds with one stone if your teeth are a little crooked, but the time and money investment may not seem worth it if your teeth are already straight. 

If this is the case, you may prefer veneers or dental bonding. Veneers take a couple of appointments over a period of a few weeks, while dental bonding can be done during a single appointment. The tradeoff is that veneers will last around 15 years with good oral hygiene, while dental bonding needs to be replaced every five to 10 years. Each treatment has different pros and cons, so which one is right for you depends heavily upon your budget and what you’d like for your smile.

Do clear aligners really straighten teeth as well as braces?

Yes, clear aligners straighten teeth as well as braces do and can be used to treat almost anything that braces can. There are only a few extreme cases where braces are likely the better choice. For the majority of people, however, aligners are a great option; they’re invisible, allow you to eat whatever you want during the course of your treatment, make oral hygiene easier and more comfortable, and their price is similar to that of braces. 

Will it be obvious that I’ve gotten work done on my teeth?

When you meet new people, they’ll have absolutely no idea that you’ve had cosmetic dentistry procedures done on your teeth. Cosmetic dentistry procedures are completely customizable, allowing treatments like veneers, crowns, and implants to look natural. Your close friends will likely notice if your gummy smile or gap-toothed grin is gone, but that’s a good thing; you’ll likely get plenty of compliments from your close friends on your new smile. However, only people who know what your old smile looked like will know that you’ve had cosmetic procedures done.

Will cosmetic procedures harm my teeth?

No, they won’t harm your teeth. Cosmetic dentists want you to love your smile, but they also want your smile to be healthy. They wouldn’t perform procedures that would harm or weaken your teeth. In fact, many cosmetic procedures actively restore the function of your teeth and protect or improve your oral health. Implants and bridges keep your teeth from shifting into the gap left by a lost tooth; implants prevent bone loss in your jaw; and veneers can protect thinning enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity.

How long do cosmetic dentistry procedures take?

The length of your procedure varies greatly depending on what you’re getting done. Simple procedures, like using dental bonding to fix a chipped tooth, can take as little as 30 minutes. Complex treatments that involve multiple procedures, such as dental implants or smile makeovers, can take anywhere from a few months to a year.

Will dental insurance help pay for cosmetic dental procedures?

Despite the fact that many cosmetic procedures do provide real benefits for your oral health, many of them are still considered purely cosmetic procedures and, thus, aren’t covered by dental insurance. Some cosmetic procedures are partially covered, such as orthodontic treatments, crowns, bridges, and dental bonding. 

The wealth of treatment options that cosmetic dentistry provides can certainly be confusing at first. With so many options, however, it’ll be much easier for you to find a treatment that doesn’t break the bank but still gives you a smile that’s functional, healthy, and beautiful. 

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