First impressions make lasting impressions. Nothing makes a better first impression than a healthy smile. That’s why good oral health is so important. Unfortunately, life happens. Despite our best efforts to care for our teeth, breaks, chips, cracks, and discolorations still occur. According to the CDC nearly 26% of all adults currently have untreated dental caries, aka tooth decay, while 46% have untreated gum disease.
Fortunately, modern dentistry provides a number of solutions no matter what oral health issues you may be dealing with. Today we’re going to discuss the field of cosmetic dentistry, as well as the most common problems that cosmetic dentistry addresses.
What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
First, a quick definition to bring the reader up to speed: what is cosmetic dentistry? In simplest terms, cosmetic dentistry is any oral procedure or intervention designed to improve both the appearance and function of your teeth and gums. In other words, the goal of cosmetic dentistry is to visibly improve your smile and your quality of life.
With such a broad and far-reaching scope, it’s hard to pin down what constitutes cosmetic dentistry exactly. There are, however, some common procedures and techniques that may help provide a better working definition. Those procedures include practices such as teeth whitening, the application of veneers, crowns, inlays, and even the installation of dental implants.
Common Problems That Cosmetic Dentistry Can Address
At Kate Brayman, DDS, Cosmetic dentistry is all about helping our patients to live happier, fuller lives. Let’s turn our attention towards some of the more common dental issues where cosmetic dentistry can have the greatest impact.
Very few people are born with straight and immaculate teeth. For some people, orthodontics is the way to go if you’re looking for a straighter smile. The younger a patient is, the easier it is to apply braces and correct the patient’s smile. As a person gets older, however, there’s a certain stigma attached to wearing braces. Thankfully, cosmetic dentistry provides patients with an alternate course of treatment.
A straight smile isn’t just about aesthetics, though. There are other health benefits involved. For instance, straight teeth are much easier to clean, and less likely to get food particles stuck in between one another. The more crooked a person’s teeth are, the more likely they are to suffer from issues such as gum disease.
Cosmetic dentistry uses techniques such as Invisalign to help correct overbites, under bites, and generally misaligned teeth. So if you’re looking for a less time —and cost— intensive treatment for crooked, crowded teeth, consider consulting with your dentist regarding cosmetic interventions.
Broken, chipped, or fractured teeth
Your teeth are tasked with a heavy, lifelong burden. Healthy teeth are designed to take the stress of your bite without breaking or fracturing. Unfortunately, the reality is that your teeth may chip, crack, or break regardless of your oral hygiene practices. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry can provide multiple solutions to breaks and fractures.
Minor cracks, specifically those that are superficial and do not reach the gum line and/ or root, require more minimal cosmetic interventions such as fillings and ultraviolet bonding. For more severely damaged teeth, veneers may be the way to go. Veneers cover up unsightly breaks and chips while adding a protective layer to the tooth as a whole.
For severe cracks, you may require a root canal followed by a crown. With a root canal, the tooth’s interior pulp is removed to prevent pain and infection, then a specially made cover is placed over the remaining tooth to strengthen and seal it against the stress of your bite.
Sometimes fixing a broken or damaged tooth just isn’t an option. The patient may instead opt for an extraction, i.e., the complete removal of the damaged tooth. While this should be considered a last-ditch intervention, it does happen, especially for patients who lack sufficient resources or insurance. If you have gaps in your smile, cosmetic dentistry can fix that.
Your dentist can install implants into your gum line —fake teeth that essentially screw into a specially crafted peg that’s anchored to your jaw. In less intensive cases, the dentist may recommend a bridge, which is a fake tooth anchored to a crown on either side. Either way, through cosmetic dentistry, patients have numerous options for restoring their missing teeth.
Some patients experience a more severe version of crooked teeth: overlapping teeth. If your teeth have overgrown one another, never fear! Cosmetic dentistry has the answer.
In some cases, interventions like Invisalign still work to correct the crowding. In other instances, however, veneers are necessary to help cover up a crooked smile.
Abnormalities in the enamel
Dentists make a big deal out of tooth enamel, but what is it exactly? Enamel is the hard, protective covering on the outside of your teeth. With fluoride treatments, daily hygiene, and routine checkups, your enamel will maintain its protective qualities for years. Enamel is, however, subject to a lot of wear and tear from daily use.
Sometimes, little divots and indentations will form in your enamel over time, giving your teeth a rough look. Cosmetic interventions such as veneers can help restore your smile to 100%.
Even if you engage in routine hygiene practices (think daily brushing and flossing), your teeth may still lose their luster over time. Nothing stands out more than a yellow, discolored smile.
Cosmetic dentistry offers two main courses of treatment: veneers for widespread damage and various whitening techniques for more superficial stains.
Gaps in between teeth
Not every oral health issue is an emergency. Some issues are more about the patient’s overall quality of life, such as gaps between teeth. For the most part, gaps are a natural occurrence. They do make chewing hard though, especially on the patient’s gum line.
Gaps are not the same as missing teeth, however. As a result, they are more problematic to fix. Again, interventions such as specially made porcelain veneers can help cover up annoying spaces, easing the toll that chewing takes on a person’s gum line.
Treat Your Smile Right With Cosmetic Dentistry
No two people’s teeth are exactly alike. With regular hygiene and periodic checkups, you’ll have a pearly white smile that will last a lifetime. Accidents happen though. From simple chips, discolorations, and pit marks, to more severe cracks and breaks, your teeth may at some point require care above and beyond the norm. Cosmetic dentistry to the rescue!
Cosmetic dentistry allows patients to repair oral health issues ranging from breaks and cracks, to overlapping teeth, to teeth that are missing altogether. For help with your current dental issues, please contact Kate Brayman DDS to set your own consultation today.