cosmetic dentistry

The term, cosmetic dentistry is somewhat of an oddity. Realistically there is not a specialization for this form of dental work within the dental field; it is more of a name given to a set of dental procedures that help to improve your smile and aesthetic appeal. Every dental procedure is a cosmetic treatment in one form or another as almost all dental work completed impacts your smile. There are; however some procedures and treatments performed by your dentist that are labeled under the term ‘cosmetic dentistry.’

There are several different forms of dentistry in the world today, and the two most common are general and cosmetic dentistry. Those who are suffering difficulty or pain with their teeth will seek the help of a general dentist, while those concerned with the appearance of their teeth look for cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentists receive the same basic training as a general dentist but go on to receive additional education as well.

Cosmetic dentistry sets out to fix your general appearance and smile. The focus of this work is the art, not the science behind the procedures. Cosmetic dentistry is not officially recognized as a specialty in the dental profession; although it does take years of extensive training and studies in order for a general dentist to become a cosmetic dentist and be allowed to perform the procedures identified as cosmetic dentistry.

Often the offices of a general practicing dentist will also be able to help you with cosmetic dentistry. Washington Dental is one of those offices where you can find family, implant, and cosmetic dentistry services. This form of dentistry will create a more positive change to your smile and your teeth. There are several procedures available to help you gain or regain your natural, beautiful smile.

Which Dental Procedures are Considered Cosmetic Dentistry?

Many people consider cosmetic dentistry procedures ones that automatically have to be paid for out-of-pocket as most insurance companies do not cover this form of dentistry. With the word ‘cosmetic,’ it is assumed it is dental work being performed for looks alone and has no medical need.

Some procedures are considered purely cosmetic in nature as the only purpose for having them completed is to improve your appearances. Whitening or bleaching your teeth would be a couple of those procedures as they are only done to make your teeth look whiter and brighter.

There are other procedures that fall under the cosmetic dentistry category that can be performed for different reasons than just to create a better appearance for you. Even though these other procedures fall under the cosmetic dentistry category, they may also provide some restorative reasons that can restore optimal health and function of mouth, jaw, gums, and teeth.

An example of a procedure that will fall under both dental categories would be if you lose a tooth due to an accident or decay. The loss of this tooth will leave an empty space in your mouth and diminish your smile, but it also affects how your mouth functions in relation to speaking, eating, biting and chewing.

The loss can also affect your oral health and underlying gums which may become subject to plaque and debris that could not reach the gum tissue when your tooth was in place. When you don’t replace the missing tooth, you put your underlying bone in your jaw and gum tissue at risk. If you don’t replace the lost tooth, the area in your jaw with the missing tooth can begin to deteriorate and weaken. The area with the missing tooth can change the alignment of your mouth and cause complications with your eating and speaking abilities.

For these reasons, cosmetic dentistry procedures like the dental bridge or dental implant provide more than just cosmetic fixes to your mouth. So, while these are procedures done by a cosmetic dentist, their benefits go far beyond merely making your smile more attractive. You should always talk with the professionals at Washington Dental and your insurance provider to find out if these procedures can be covered for the reasons you need them performed.

Broken or Misshapen Teeth can be Repaired Through Cosmetic Dentistry

A tooth can break while doing ordinary activities, being involved in an accident, or even while playing your favorite sport. The enamel covering your teeth is mineralized tissue in your body and for the most part, a tough substance. Even though it is a hard material, it is still able to break when you fall, or your mouth receives a blow from a hard object. It can even break from eating especially hard foods.

There is no need for you to panic if you’ve discovered one or more of your teeth have broken. Cosmetic dentistry is able to fix these breaks. Treating a broken or chipped tooth can either be accomplished in a simple one-time office visit or depending on the severity, it might take a more lengthy treatment.

If just a small piece of your tooth’s enamel has chipped off,  a cosmetic dentist may be able to repair it with a filling. If the break or chip has occurred on one of your front teeth, the dentist may want to use a procedure called, bonding. Bonding involves using a tooth-colored composite resin so your smile won’t be affected by the repair.

With a bonding procedure, the dentist will etch the surface of your tooth with a liquid or gel to roughen it so the bonding material will be able to stick better. An adhesive material is then applied to your tooth, followed by the appropriate colored resin to match the other teeth in your mouth. The bonding material will then be shaped, so it looks like your natural tooth and is then dried with ultraviolet light to harden the material.

If a larger piece of your tooth has been broken off, the dentist may have to grind away the remaining portion and then cover the area with a crown, or tooth-shaped cap. This procedure of applying a dental cap or crown will improve your appearance and protect what is left of the tooth.

Another option to fixing a broken front tooth is covering the area with a dental veneer. This process will make the tooth look healthy and whole again. A dental veneer is a tooth-colored, thin shell of porcelain or resin material that will cover the complete front tooth with a thicker section being applied to the broken area. Much like the bonding process, the dentist will roughen the surface of your tooth so the veneer can stick, and will also use a special cement to place the veneer in place. A special light is also used to activate chemicals in the cement, so they harden and hold the veneer tightly in place.

Cosmetic Use of Veneers

Porcelain veneers are not only used to repair broken or chipped teeth. These products are a popular cosmetic dentistry procedure to help whiten or straighten teeth. The porcelain veneer is comprised of a laminate substance that goes right onto the surface of your teeth to close gaps, whiten your teeth and improve your smile. This procedure works well to whiten teeth that are resistant to other whitening processes such as bleaching or bonding.

Dental veneers are wafer-thin, tooth-colored, custom-made material to cover the front surface of your teeth and are used to improve your appearance. By applying these shells to the front of your teeth, the cosmetic dentist can change their length, shape, size, and color to help change or improve your looks. People often seek the help of cosmetic dentistry to use veneers on discolored teeth, worn-down teeth, broken or chipped teeth, misaligned or uneven teeth, or if they have noticeably large gaps in between their teeth.

Teeth Whitening

One of the more common procedures of cosmetic dentistry is to whiten teeth. Cosmetic dentistry is a faster method of this process than buying solutions yourself to do at home. A cosmetic dentist will use a much stronger whitening solution than at-home kits can contain. The dentist will also use a combination of light and heat that speeds up and intensifies the whitening process.

When you have your teeth whitened through cosmetic dentistry, the results are your teeth will look from three to eight shades lighter. The process will take about thirty to sixty minutes in the office, but some dentists use a method that can be completed in a single two-hour appointment. Professional teeth whitening is often the best option if you are looking for a quick touch-up or even a full teeth whitening procedure.

Even with daily habits that can cause teeth to become dull, having your teeth whitened with cosmetic dentistry will provide you with dramatic improvements to the color of your teeth and the brightness of your smile.

Once you’ve had your teeth whitened you should avoid certain acidic, fatty foods and beverages such as black teas, coffee, sports drinks, berries or other strong colored foods, sauces, and the dark or light sodas. You should also make sure your daily hygiene care consists of flossing, brushing and rinsing.

Before deciding to have your teeth whitened, you should plan a talk with your dentist. Whitening your teeth can make your teeth temporarily uncomfortable and sensitive. This process works best on those with yellow teeth and does not work well on brown teeth. Purple or gray teeth probably cannot even have the procedure attempted.

Bleaching Teeth with Cosmetic Dentistry

When you have your teeth bleached, it is done with food safe hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient, or sometimes a carbamide peroxide. The chemicals penetrate your teeth and remove the stains and deep discoloration in the enamel.

You have a choice of two different bleaching methods; in practice and take home. An in-practice bleaching method involves a stronger bleaching solution used in conjunction with an accelerator light. The whitening of your teeth can occur in a single session. The fast whitening is an appeal for many, but it can quickly be undone as the process dehydrates the enamel.

When having your teeth bleached, it is crucial for you to stay on top of your oral health to maintain the best results. Flossing and brushing are essential to complete every day. You might consider talking to Washington Dental about a scale and polish treatment that can help with the results of bleaching.

Dental Implants

One might think braces fall under the category of cosmetic dentistry because they improve how one’s teeth look. Even though the desired outcome is to have better-looking teeth once braces are removed, that is not their primary purpose. Having crooked teeth fixed is essential so your teeth can function adequately. Braces improve the function of the teeth, therefore are not considered cosmetic dentistry. Dental implants; however, are cosmetic as they restore the appearance of your mouth and make it look much nicer.

A dental implant is a post made from titanium that a dentist surgically positions into your jawbone below the gumline, so they can then attach a replacement tooth or bridge into the area. Implants have an advantage over the denture as they will not come loose and unlike the bridge, they do not need to be anchored to other teeth.

In order for a cosmetic dentist to place a dental implant in your jaw, you must have adequate bone to support one along with healthy gums. If your jawbone is too soft or thin, the dentist may have to perform a bone graft. A bone graft is necessary if there is not enough bone height in your upper jaw. A sinus lift may be required if your sinuses are too close to your jaw.

The American Dental Association recommends two types of implants that they rate as safe:

  • Subperiosteal Implants

The Subperiosteal implant is a dental implant constructed from a metal framework. The frame is placed under your gum tissue just above the bone in your jaw. Metal posts jut out of the frame for which the dentist can place the artificial tooth or teeth.

  • Endosteal Implants

An Endosteal implant is a surgical implant into the bone of your jaw. The gum tissue has to heal from this procedure before a second surgery can be performed to connect a post to the implant. The last step of this procedure is to attach artificial teeth or a tooth to the post or posts.

If you’ve lost a tooth, an implant is a cosmetic answer to return your smile and restore the proper appearance of your mouth. Washington Dental can provide these services and other dental procedures to repair and maintain your oral health.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges can effectively prevent a lot of problems that can occur when you are missing teeth as well as improve your appearance. The bridge can fill unsightly gaps existing between your teeth which is one reason the procedure of having one placed in your mouth falls under the category of cosmetic dentistry.

A dental bridge procedure can be completed within two visits to your dentist. The first visit, you will have an impression taken, and the teeth next to where the gap appears are prepared to fit the bridge. The dentist will place a temporary bridge in your mouth while you wait for the permanent bridge to be completed.

During your second visit, the dentist will place the permanent dental bridge, so you have a comfortable fit. Once positioned, the bridge is then cemented into your mouth for permanent placement. The dental bridge is one option you have to restore the appearance of your mouth. There are several choices of bridges, and the one that works best for you will depend on your restoration needs.

  • Maryland Dental Bridge

The Maryland Dental Bridge is a resin-bonded bridge. They are created from porcelain teeth supported by a metal framework and then attached to adjacent teeth. The attachment is completed by using metal wings which the dentist will bond to the teeth.

  • Cantilever Dental Bridges

The Cantilever Dental Bridge is constructed much like a traditional bridge, except they only attach to one adjacent tooth. These bridges are only used when there is just one tooth on one side of a gap.

  • Traditional Dental Bridges

The Traditional Dental Bridge is the most common bridge procedure and includes a crown for each adjacent tooth next to the gap. There is also a pontic, or another crown, between them. The teeth are usually constructed from porcelain fused to a framework of ceramic or metal. The bridge sits in place as the crown sits over the abutment. They are then cemented in place.

Many insurance companies will not cover what is determined to be cosmetic dentistry, but often one of these procedures can also improve and protect your overall health and functionality of your teeth and gums. When the process can double as both cosmetic and functionality, you may be able to receive coverage. Working with the dentists at Washington Dental will help you find the best solution to your dental needs.

Non-Dental Factors that Affect Cosmetic Dentistry

Your smile and teeth make up approximately one-third of your face and are influenced by a lot of aspects of your appearance. These are some of the factors that affect the smile you share and should be taken into consideration by both you and your dentist before you go through with cosmetic dental treatments.

  • Missing or Lost Teeth

If you have lost a tooth or teeth due to an accident, decay, or were born without them, it is going to have a significant impact on your dental arch.

  • The Height of Your Face

If you have a long face, chances are your jaw is narrow which impacts your upper jaw. This impact means you will have less space for your upper teeth.

  • Lip and Skin Color

Many do not realize the effects a tan or their shade of lipstick play with the whiteness of your teeth. When you create a contrast against your teeth by tanning or wearing certain shades of lipstick, you will give the impression your teeth are shades lighter. When you talk to your cosmetic dentist, they should factor these situations in before performing a whitening or other cosmetic dentistry option.

  • The Width of Your Face

Part of the framework for your smile is the width of your face. If you have a narrow face, you might need a palatal expansion to gain better facial balance and aesthetics. Speak with the dentists at Washington Dental to see if this is a credible issue with your smile.

  • Age Impacts Facial Features

Your age has a significant impact on your face, especially in regards to the tenseness of your lips and cheeks. As a person gets older, you will begin to notice more of your bottom teeth showing and the height of your face decreasing. Speak with your cosmetic dentist so the two of you agree on which treatments will best meet your goals for a beautiful smile while addresses the changes age will make.

  • The Volume of Your Lips

If you have tight, thin lips, you may have noticed how much of your teeth show when smiling or talking. This factor should be taken into account when considering cosmetic dentistry treatments.

It is beneficial to you to know which aspects of cosmetic dentistry your dentist handles as all clinics are different. Discuss any options or expectations you have with your dentist as there are many different brands of materials, applications, or dental prosthetics out there that may work to improve your smile.

Find a Cosmetic Dentistry Practice Near Me?

At Washington Dental we pride ourselves in offering quality comprehensive dental care. It is our job to go over all your concerns and options to find the best dental treatment to care for your complete oral health. We provide total dental care including family dentistry, orthodontics, emergency dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and more to the South Bay, Lomita, Carson, and Los Angeles areas.