Ask the Gentle Dentist: Cosmetic Dentistry
Question: I keep seeing more information on cosmetic dentistry all of the time. Could you explain what this entails and how it can make a difference for me?
This is the process of improving one’s smile and overall appearance through many enhancement techniques. At our office our goal is to make all of our patients look the best they can.
An article in US News and World report a few years ago stated that 75% of Americans felt an unattractive smile could hurt one’s chances for a career success, and that only 50% of the American public are satisfied with their smile! A smile is the first thing noticed by others and unattractive teeth and smile will often be covered up with facial hair or by one’s hand when smiling. People have even limited themselves in their careers and personal lives because of a bad looking smile. Aging also has a negative effect on the beautiful smile.
What happens as we age and how does it affect the teeth and smile?
As we age, teeth naturally become yellow and wear down from use and trauma. Teeth yellow as stain fills in the micro-cracks in the enamel layer of the teeth.
Another characteristic of aging is the sagging of the face from gravity and the loosening of the skin. This affects the amount of teeth that show when smiling. In the mid-30’s the average female shows about 3 millimeters of front tooth when relaxing without smiling. Then by the time she reaches 60 she won’t show any front tooth when relaxed.
A good looking smile contains the following characteristics:
- The teeth are white, not dark and of the same color
- The teeth are evenly spaced and shaped the same on each side of the face.
- The gum tissue that frame the teeth are pink and healthy, meaning they don’t bleed.
- A full smile shows most of the upper teeth and when looking head on you should see between 10-12 upper teeth.
- The teeth are not chipped or worn down significantly
Fortunately there are more choices than ever to improve the look and feel of one’s smile. There are a variety of cosmetic procedures that can be done to enhance one’s appearance. They include but are not limited to the following options:
Whitening using a safe and effective material that contacts your teeth making them 8-9 shades lighter. The outside enamel layer whitens as the stains are oxidized You can whiten your teeth by wearing a very thin rubber shell around your teeth during the day or night. After 2 weeks of this your teeth will usually show a big change in their color. Whitening or bleaching is the most popular and cost effective process to improve your smile. In office whitening using a strong bleaching agent is also possible, but needs to be coordinated with the home whitening process for the best and longest lasting result.
Re-contouring of the Teeth
Re-contouring of the teeth can be a very effective way to make your teeth symmetrical and in one visit can make a huge difference in their appearance. This is done through minor changes in the shape of the front teeth without any numbing.
Braces move teeth to keep them aligned properly. We offer Six Month Smiles Cosmetic Braces that can move your teeth as fast as 6-9 months. This process is a safe and long lasting procedure. Even if it takes more time to do this procedure, it can be well worth the time spent in braces.
Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that can lengthen, whiten and strengthen the teeth. By using these we can do “instant orthodontics” and significantly improve the smile in just 2 visits. Veneers are bonded to the teeth using materials similar to those that bond the heat tiles to the space shuttle. Lumineers are “no preparation” thin shells of porcelain that can be used when the patient desires longer or thicker teeth. Typical veneers require very little removal of enamel (0.5mm) to make room for them which is about the thickness of a credit card. If there is confusion about what is best for you give us a call for a free consultation at (586)247-3500.
All porcelain crowns can be done so no black line appears around the gums. These are beautiful and look very natural because they allow light to be transmitted through the tooth.
Tooth Colored Fillings
Plastic fillings are done instead of the black mercury fillings. These type of fillings not only look like your natural teeth, but they are very strong and durable. They also prevent the teeth from cracking like what happens to the black mercury fillings.
All porcelain bridges to replace missing teeth. These can be done in a few positions in the mouth, but they are beautiful and look very natural.
If dentures are looking yellow and dingy it may be time to replace them with white porcelain teeth to give you the youngest smile possible. I can’t tell you how many times we treat patients and remake dentures for them that state that the previous dentist wouldn’t listen to them when they stated that they wanted their dentures white. They are usually upset because they felt like they weren’t listened to and even ignored. Presently I find all of my patients want bright white teeth. (And that is what they get).
At our office we take a series of digital photos during your examination to show you what we see in your mouth. This educates and keeps our patients well informed of their situation and allows us to discuss the possibilities.
The camera is just a tool that we use to discover the smile you have been looking for. If you have any questions about cosmetic dentistry please contact our Macomb County dental office at (586) 247-3500.