Million dollar smile
Cosmetic dentistry: a guide to the smile of your dreams
By Nilesh Salgar, D.D.S.
Everyone can and should have a beautiful smile they can be proud of. But a high degree of education, training, and experience is required in order to satisfy the demanding responsibility of creating the perfect smile. Dentistry is both a science and an art. Cosmetic dentistry (or esthetic dentistry) refers to dental treatments used primarily to improve the appearance of the teeth, gums, and overall smile. Healthy, white, beautiful teeth are no longer something for only the rich and famous.
Although cosmetic dentistry is not acknowledged as a recognized specialty in dentistry, many dentists refer to themselves as “cosmetic dentists.”
There are several types of procedures done in cosmetic dentistry to correct discolored, misaligned, decayed, or missing teeth. Even if esthetics is the primary goal, all dental treatment should restore the health and function of the teeth.
The foundation of all dentistry is a thorough clinical exam with the required x-rays to evaluate the entire mouth for decay and periodontal (gum) problems. A detailed treatment plan can then be made to address all esthetic and functional problems. A hygiene visit is critical in order to remove plaque and tartar, as well as treat gingivitis or periodontal disease. Patients must be able to maintain the dental work with regular daily brushing and flossing.
Below is a list of some of the common types of cosmetic dentistry procedures:
Teeth whitening is one of the most requested esthetic dentistry procedures in the world. It is an easy and inexpensive way to dramatically improve the color of the teeth. Most whitening is done using take-home kits with custom made trays. A whitening gel is placed in the trays and worn for as little as 15 minutes a day for 14 applications (typically seven to 14 days). In-office bleaching requires one or two visits depending on the severity of the staining. Over-the-counter products contain weak concentrations of whitening gel, are not custom fitted, and generally do not whiten well.
Veneers are custom-made very thin shells of esthetic porcelain used to cover the front surface of the teeth. Veneers are used to improve the appearance of misaligned, spaced, discolored, or chipped teeth. Teeth can be lengthened, and gaps can be closed using porcelain veneers. Several veneers are usually placed on the anterior teeth to custom create a beautiful, natural looking, white smile.
Bonding is the use of white, tooth-colored composite resin filling to repair teeth or improve their appearance. Composite resin is used to repair cavities in teeth by using an adhesive and an intense blue curing light to harden the filling. Bonding can correct broken, discolored, misaligned, or cracked teeth. Bonding can also be used to lengthen short teeth or close gaps between teeth.
Dental implants are the best way to permanently replace one or more missing teeth. A titanium fixture is placed in the jaw and allowed to heal (integrate). A connector (abutment) is fixed to the implant, which can then be used to support a single tooth, a bridge, or a denture. Dental implants are very esthetic and feel just like natural teeth.
Short-term orthodontics is an extremely effective and predictable treatment to achieve a beautiful smile with straight, healthy teeth. Cosmetic braces such as Six Month Smiles use clear brackets and tooth-coloured wires that are barely visible. Severe misalignments can be corrected in as little as five to nine months. Many esthetic concerns can be corrected orthodontically by properly aligning the teeth without the need for veneers or bonding.
Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment that uses clear aligners as an alternative to braces. The aligners are made of clear plastic and are removable. This makes eating as well as brushing easier for the patient. The treatment time is longer—from 10 to 24 months, and the fees may usually range much higher than short-term orthodontics.
Periodontal (gum) treatments can improve the appearance of the teeth dramatically. If teeth are considered as houses, then the gums are the landscaping. Gingival connective tissue grafts can be done to cover exposed roots due to gum loss. Gingivoplasty, or gum reshaping, is done to lengthen the teeth or improve the appearance or symmetry of the gums.
Esthetic dentistry has improved dramatically in recent years. An experienced cosmetic dentist can thoroughly assess the needs of every patient and deliver a life changing improvement in your smile.
Dental procedure images: courtesy of Dr. Nilesh Salgar.
Feature image: IStock photo © Eva Katalin Kondoros
Dr. Nilesh Salgar is a graduate of McGill Dentistry. He maintains a private practice in Kirkland, Quebec, focusing on esthetic and implant dentistry. He can be reached at 514 697-9947 or at drnileshsalgar.com