Looking Younger with Cosmetic Dentistry
There’s no doubt about it—a healthy smile can take years off your appearance. On the other hand, just the opposite is true as well—a dingy, yellow smile or missing teeth can make you look old before your time. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry can do wonders for your smile and your youthful appearance. Most procedures are relatively routine, and many are surprisingly affordable. No matter what dental challenges you may have, there’s likely to be a cosmetic procedure that will fix the problem.
Although there are several different types of methods for teeth whitening—such as chemical whitening, abrasive teeth whitening, laser whitening or mild acid whitening—bleaching is the most common. This procedure can either be done in the dentist’s office or at home with supplies provided by your dentist. The first step involves a trip to the dentist so that a custom mouth tray can be made. It’s important that the mouth tray fit your mouth exactly in order to achieve the optimum results from bleaching. Although you can purchase teeth bleaching kits at stores, the one-size-fits-all mouth trays that come along with those kits aren’t nearly as form-fitting as a custom-made tray made by your dentist, so the results won’t be nearly as good. Once the tray is made you just follow the instructions provided by your dentist. The procedure usually involves keeping the tray (and the bleaching agent) in your mouth for 2 to 3 hours and sometimes overnight. You’ll need to repeat this process a few times over the course of 2 to 3 weeks, and then schedule a follow-up trip to your dentist. This type of bleaching is relatively inexpensive, and the results are usually great.
If you have front teeth that are chipped, crooked, oddly shaped or badly discolored, veneers could be the answer to help you achieve a beautiful, youthful-looking smile. There are generally three types of veneers available: composite (or direct) veneers that can usually be applied directly on the teeth in a single visit to the dentist; porcelain (or indirect) veneers that require a couple of trips to the dental office; and Lumineer porcelain veneers that are extremely thin and can be applied to the teeth without reduction or buffing beforehand. To apply veneers, the dentist first buffs the teeth, which allows some room for the added thickness of the veneers. It’s possible that the dentist might have to do a “reduction” (removing about 1 or 2 mm from the surface of the teeth) before the veneers can be applied. After that, the dentist creates a mold of the tooth, which will be used to shape the veneer. The patient is usually given a temporary veneer to wear until the permanent veneer is ready. Chemicals are applied to the teeth, then adhesive and the permanent veneer. A light beam is used to harden the adhesive.
Laser Gum Sculpting
This minimally invasive procedure helps to reshape the gum tissue around your teeth. This is particularly helpful if you have uneven gums or an excessive amount of gum tissue. If you see more gum than teeth when you smile, you might be a good candidate for this type of procedure. It’s also used for people that have deep gum pockets formed as a result of poor dental hygiene habits. A local anesthetic is used, which means you’re awake for the entire procedure. Then a laser is used to trim and reshape the gum tissue around your teeth. If you’d like to improve the appearance of your smile, ask your dentist for more information on cosmetic dentistry procedures. Before you know it, you could be on your way to a healthy, youthful, beautiful new smile!