smile can be warm and charming, often
disarming others you come in contact with. A smile says a great
deal about one's personality but often if you're uncomfortable with
the way your teeth look, it can easily be misinterpreted in your
smile. Chances are, if you're embarrassed by your teeth, whether
due to color, spaces, chips or crookedness, you might subconsciously
be employing gestures to hide them. If someone appears to be guarded
about their smile, it could easily be interpreted as being uptight
or unfriendly. For instance, talking with your lips tightly pursed
so as not to reveal your teeth might make one appear as the kind
of person who's trying to hide something. Or in a more extreme example,
you might even place your hand over your smile when you laugh, exhibiting
insecurity and a lack of confidence. Often people train themselves
to smile with their lips closed or not smiling at all. How boring!!
With the advancement and innovation of dental materials, cosmetic
dentistry came to the forefront of our esthetically driven society.
Cosmetic dentistry is that branch of dentistry that has married
form to function to create attractive, if not perfect, smiles that
function in a state of health with the individuals needs. Recent
studies have shown that while most people are dissatisfied with
their smiles, only a small percentage of them realize how simple
it is to change their smiles. Cosmetic dentists help you determine
how to improve your smile, thereby looking better and feeling better
about your appearance. Whether the problem is the color of your
teeth, the shape of them or if the teeth are chipped or spaced or
simply that you wish you had an eye catching smile, cosmetic dentists
can employ one or more techniques to give you the smile you once
had or one that you always wished for. While areas such as periodontology
(gums), implants, and orthodontics all play a role in cosmetic dentistry,
the most common techniques for changing your smile are: bleaching,
bonding, laminates, and simply reshaping or contouring your teeth.
is a relatively new and popular way to achieve a bright, white smile.
There are two types of bleaching: "in office" and "at home" bleaching.
In office bleaching, known also as power bleaching, is performed
at the dental office. The dentist first treats the teeth with a
mild acid, which allows the tooth structure to become more porous
to the bleaching solution, a 30 - 35 % solution of hydrogen peroxide.
The solution is applied directly to the tooth and is then exposed
to a high intensity light, which accelerates the oxidation process.
In office bleaching can take from 1-3 visits and has varying degrees
At home bleaching involves the fabrication of a customized plastic
splint or mold that fits over the teeth and is filled with a solution
of carbamide peroxide. Depending on the different manufacturers
percentage of carbamide peroxide, the patient can wear the splint
for 2-4 hours or even wear it while one sleeps. The process usually
takes 2-3 weeks to achieve results. Both types of bleaching are
not permanent and usually have to be repeated after two years.
is a process whereby the dentist first etches the enamel layer of
the tooth with mildly acidic solution and then a composite resin
or plastic paste is molded onto the teeth. The composite resin is
then hardened by a high-intensity light. The dentist then sculpts
the composite. Bonding is often used for chipped or fractured teeth
or to close the space between two teeth. It can also be used to
completely cover the surface of each tooth to cosmetically mask
discolored or malpositioned teeth.
The advantages to bonding are: it is a painless procedure, where
anesthesia is generally not required. The results are immediate
and usually require little to no tooth reduction.
The disadvantages are: bonding has a limited esthetic life expectancy
and easily chips or stains, requires routine maintenance, and is
an opaque material which limits its aesthetic use.
Veneers and Laminates
Veneers or Porcelain Laminates are the extension of the bonding
technique and consists of applying a thin veneer of preformed porcelain,
custom made in the laboratory, directly to tooth structure. The
inside of the porcelain laminate is etched to enhance its attachment
to the etched enamel tooth surface. Composite resin cement binds
tooth surface to the porcelain with the aid of a high intensity
light, which activates the resin to bond the two surfaces. The main
advantage of porcelain veneers is the strength and beauty of porcelain,
which due to its translucent qualities, give a truly life-like appearance.
Porcelain does not stain as does composite resin and porcelain has
a much more beautiful luster than composite. These qualities, along
with porcelain's extremely low rate of wear, make porcelain veneers
the Rolls Royce of cosmetic dentistry. Porcelain veneers are expected
to last anywhere from 10-20 years and take only two visits to the
dentist to transform your smile. In the first visit the tooth structure
is reduced slightly in order to make room for the laminates so they
will not appear too bulky. This procedure requires local anesthesia
and takes anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to complete depending on the
number of teeth to be veneered. Teeth that have been reshaped with
a drill to accommodate the veneers obviously can't be returned to
their original appearance. During the second visit, the laminate
veneers are fitted, inserted with the composite resin cement, and
then shaped and polished.
Porcelain Veneers can correct a multitude of imperfections in a
smile, including changing the color of teeth, changing the shape
of the teeth, making crooked teeth look straight, correcting gaps
or spaces between teeth, lengthening teeth, and making the arch
wider to give greater support to the lips and cheeks and create
a fuller smile.
never had something in my smile to be proud of and now I do."
Crooked Teeth with Cosmetic Contouring
or Cosmetic Contouring is an ideal treatment for very small fractures
or chips or to simply reshape what nature has given you to a more
aesthetically pleasing smile. Anesthesia is not necessary since
the dentist uses the drill and sandpaper discs and polishing wheels
to reshape the teeth with a minimal loss of tooth structure. Once
the treatment is done, that's it; no replacements or touch-ups are
necessary and the cost and time involved are minimal.
Contouring can change the smile line. If one front tooth is a little
longer than the other, contouring can even them out. Since the natural
process of aging flattens out the edges of the front teeth and tends
to square off the angles, cosmetic contouring can round the corners
of each tooth to soften them, making them appear more feminine when
necessary. While men's teeth tend to be angular and strong, often
squared off, women's teeth are usually more attractive when the
corners are rounded off. Pointed canines, which sometimes have a
vampire look, can be rounded and softened with cosmetic contouring.
And lastly, often symmetry of the smile can be achieved simply by
contouring the teeth.
All of these procedures can be used individually or in combination
to give you the smile that you always wanted.