Cosmetic dentistry is a phrase that can be used to describe a number of dental procedures. With numerous advances in recent years, the cosmetic dentist has many options for restoring a person’s smile.
Thirty years ago, dentists had very few options available to create a new smile. These options were typically limited to crowns or caps that were made of gold or a combined metal and porcelain material. The end result was often less than desirable. Advances in dental materials, however, have given dentists several options to make your dental work appear more natural. That really is the goal of the cosmetic dentist, to have your work go unnoticed because it blends in so well with the adjacent teeth and facial structure. Whether it is a tooth-colored filling on a front tooth, a porcelain crown, or an entire smile makeover, the end result should be esthetic and natural-looking.
Let’s discuss the different materials that are used today in cosmetic dentistry. Bleaching products, composite resins, porcelains, and the adhesives that are used to fix these restorations to the teeth have led the way in the field of cosmetic dentistry.
Whitening products have been discussed in a separate article and will not be reviewed at this time. Composite resins are tooth-colored filling materials. They are basically a plastic material that is chemically bonded to the tooth with an adhesive. Composite resins come in multiple shades; this makes it easier for the dentist to match the filling to the existing tooth color, creating a more natural-looking end result.
Tooth-colored fillings are not limited to your front teeth, they can be used to repair cavities in molars as well, and they look much nicer than silver fillings. Composite materials can also be used to create a veneer. A veneer is a thin shell of material that is bonded over a tooth, changing its shape and shade.
Dental porcelains are used frequently by cosmetic dentists. Porcelains come in multiple shades, making it possible for a dentist to significantly lighten your smile if you so choose. Porcelain can be used to fabricate crowns, veneers, inlays, and onlays that look completely natural. A porcelain crown or cap can be used to repair either the front or back teeth.
A porcelain veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that is chemically bonded to a tooth. A dentist would remove a small amount of enamel from your tooth, and a veneer is placed over this. Veneers have the advantage of being very conservative; much less tooth structure is removed when preparing a tooth for a veneer than when preparing it for a crown. Veneers can only be used on teeth in the front of your mouth. They are not strong enough to be used on posterior teeth such as the molars. With veneers, some outstanding esthetic results can be achieved, changing both the shape and shade of a person’s smile.
Inlays and onlays are other porcelain alternatives to repair cavities on your back teeth. In general, when comparing porcelain to composite, porcelain will hold up longer and look nicer for a longer period of time. Composite restorations have the advantage of being less expensive than porcelain ones.
Of course, there is more to cosmetic dentistry than just knowing what material to use when and where. A cosmetic dentist will understand the harmonious relationship between a person’s smile and their facial structure. A true cosmetic dentist will realize that other variables such as a patient’s gender, age, motivation, and hygiene will affect the outcome of a procedure. A good cosmetic dentist will make sure that you are happy with your end result.