We often have patients asking us about the various options and choices to improve their smile. In this blog post we are going to discuss the range of treatments available and how they might combine to help you achieve your perfect smile.
Before any dental practice undertakes any form of cosmetic dental option they should always ensure that your teeth and gums are in good condition. A full dental health assessment should always be undertaken, this may result in an extended period of dental health education with a dental hygienist prior to any cosmetic dentistry.
Once your teeth and gums are healthy we can begin looking at your cosmetic dentistry options.
In order to make things simple we are going to look at this from the following aspects:
- Straightening crooked teeth.
- Whitening dark teeth.
- Rebuilding broken down teeth.
To resolve these problems there are a range of treatments often used in cosmetic dentistry:
- Dental veneers.
- Teeth whitening.
- Dental bonding.
Let’s now look at how these treatments can be used to solve each of the dental problems mentioned.
Ways to straighten crooked teeth.
The three primary ways we can straighten crooked teeth with cosmetic dentistry are by using.
- Dental bonding.
- Dental veneers.
This is the most minimally invasive option and is when your dentist applies a small amount of tooth coloured resin over the area affected. Typically this technique is used for teeth which are set back and require building forwards slightly to be in line with their neighbours. The technique is often called instant or immediate tooth veneers.
One of the great advantages of this technique is that it often requires no anaesthetic injection and is completely painless. It is also extremely quick as the material is applied directly to your tooth in the dental surgery.
A disadvantage with dental bonding is that the composite material may have some degradation of colour over time, normally however, your dentist can polish the surface to regain its original shade.
These are made of thin yet high-strength dental ceramic.
Your dentist will gently remove approximately 0.5 mm of the outer enamel of your teeth. This is so that the veneer has an adequate and secure bedding onto which it will be bonded. The veneer is made by a dental technician who can make it to realign teeth and indeed change the colour also.
Dental veneers have a good history of having a long life although you do need to remember that you have veneers as they can fracture if you accidentally knock them.
As you can see in the image above the dental veneers have been used in this case to make it look as though we have moved the teeth and closed spaces.
Dental bonding can be done immediately on your teeth giving you an instant result, however, ceramic dental veneers typically take between two and three weeks to make. Whilst the dental technician is making your veneers you will be fitted with a transitional veneer on each tooth.
Orthodontics to straighten teeth.
This is the most conservative option to straighten teeth as you maintain all of your natural dentition and have no additional materials such as dental composite or dental ceramic added to your teeth. There are a range of orthodontics are available at our practice including:
We have written about various orthodontic treatments in the past, so we won’t labour too long on each individual option here.
Orthodontics has the distinct advantage of leaving your existing teeth alone from a restorative point of view. Once the orthodontics have been used to move your teeth to the new position all foreign objects such as composites and ceramics are removed from your mouth.
One of the disadvantages of orthodontics however is that it takes considerably longer. If you had dental veneers you could achieve a new straighter smile in approximately 2 or 3 weeks, with orthodontics (depending on which system you had) you will be looking at anything from 16 weeks up to 2 years.
Oral B have written an excellent website about the different types of braces, please do take a look here.
Whitening dark teeth
The most commonly selected option for patients is teeth whitening. Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot make a complete colour change, but it may lighten the existing shade.
Whitening involves the application of a peroxide gel to the surface of your teeth. This is typically held in place by a custom-made tray which fits precisely over your teeth. You wear this tray, with the gel inside each day for around two hours. The whole process often takes about two weeks to reach the desired shade, although this is entirely in your control.
Who can perform teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be performed by a dentist or another regulated dental professional, such as a dental hygienist or dental therapist, on the prescription of a dentist.
Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening, but this is illegal if there’s no dental professional present, and it may put your oral health at risk. You can also buy DIY home teeth whitening kits but these may also carry risks.
The General Dental Council have an excellent video on their website which talks about teeth whitening and their belief that teeth whitening is a form of dentistry. They also have an excellent guide teeth whitening , this talks about what you need to know if you are considering whitening.
Dental bonding or veneers for whitening teeth
This is where the various treatments begin to overlap. Because both dental bonding and dental veneers involve placing a new layer over your existing tooth they can be useful for whitening, so long as that layer is thick enough to cover up any underlying dark tooth.
If you have many teeth which require whitening we would not typically recommend any form of restorative treatment such as bonding or veneers. These restorative treatments are usually only reserved for exceptionally dark teeth which may not respond to conventional teeth whitening procedures.
Rebuilding broken down teeth
Once again, the options to rebuild broken down teeth in the most minimal way are dental bonding or dental veneers. If you have severely broken down teeth then dental crowns may also be considered.
Veneers and bonding would be placed over the surface of your natural teeth to cover up any pits, chips or problem areas you want hidden. Here is a typical example of how a tooth can be rebuilt with a small amount of dental bonding. All that was required here was a little bit of bonding towards the edge of the teeth to rebuild broken down edges. A minimally invasive, simple and quick result.
How do you find a good cosmetic dentist?
The best way to find a cosmetic dentist is to ask your friends. Personal recommendation is by far the best way as it means your friends and family have had personal experience. You could also visit Google and type “Cosmetic Dentist Bristol” ( just substitute Bristol with your local area if you live outside of the region), take a look at the various search results and then scroll through to the patient reviews page.
Consider visiting British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry – The Academy lists the various treatment options available and provides a range of dentists which are members.
Another good thing to look out for are patient testimonials and reviews of an individual practice, here are some great examples…
We hope you have found this blog post about cosmetic dentistry both informative and helpful. We are a private dental practice in Portishead, Bristol offering a range of treatments to help you Enjoy a healthy smile plus whiten dark teeth, restore broken down teeth and straighten crooked teeth.