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Know your cosmetic dentistry options

A healthy smile is the best kind. Most of the time, patients find success in the form of routine home dental care, scheduled annual cleanings and avoidance of substances that can lead to cavities and discolouration. However, sometimes even the healthiest of teeth could use some esthetic enhancement in the form of cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic dentistry is, for all intents and purposes, an area of dentistry that goes beyond basic dental health and takes into account the appearance of a patient's teeth and smile. Certain situations can lead to irregularities of teeth — for example, early childhood fluoride or nutritional deficiencies, genetic conditions, substance use or injury — which can be distracting from an otherwise lovely smile. Some of these things are correctable through cosmetic dental procedures, which range from teeth whitening to custom tooth-coloured fillings, veneers, implants, bridges, dentures, orthodontia and more.

We discuss some of the more common options below.

Teeth whitening
Teeth can become discoloured by either internal or external causes, or a combination of both. Internal causes tend to be the most challenging to avoid, and include genetics, aging, and use of certain medications, such as tetracyclines. External causes are the more common form, and include dietary transgressions (tea, coffee, red wine, oranges, carrots, etc.) as well as tobacco use.

There is no shortage of over-the-counter whitening treatments available in the form of toothpastes, mouth rinses, gum, strips and more. However, these treatments can be less effective than the sophisticated, custom whitening treatments offered in-office by dentists.

Before and after teeth whitening photos.There's nothing more eye-catching than a bright smile.

Dental fillings
In the past, dental fillings came only as metal-based amalgams. While these rigid fillings more or less served their purpose, they were considered unsightly and could be readily seen whenever a patient opened their mouth to laugh, yawn and so on. Today, patients have the option of tooth-coloured fillings, which may be unnoticeable to anyone other than their dentist. These newer fillings are also made with biosynthetic properties in mind, and better replicate the chewing surface of natural teeth.

Veneers are what most patients think of when it comes to creating a "picture perfect" smile. Similar to a facade on a building, veneers overlay the front of a tooth with minimal enamel shaping required underneath. Made of high-tech porcelain or similar, they are a great solution for anyone whose enamel has become visibly compromised by resistant stains or injury, as well as patients who may have cracks or gaps in their natural teeth. The major benefit of veneers as opposed to crowns is that veneers require a less-invasive approach as far as reshaping of the natural tooth.

Dental implants are useful in the case of missing teeth, whether genetic or as a result of injury. They feature a metal core that connects directly to the jawbone, simulating the root of a tooth. It isn't quite the same as a natural tooth root, but functions as close as possible to the original.

Bridges are an alternative to implants, and are also used in the case of missing teeth. A bridge is a prosthesis that attaches on both teeth abutting the missing dentition. Although esthetically pleasing, they can be more prone to issues down the line, since the teeth securing the bridge must be filed down in order to accept the prosthesis.

Dentures come in several varieties, including partial and full. They are helpful in situations where poor- or missing dentition might involve several teeth, versus one or two. Technology has come a long way in recent years, making dentures more reliable and pleasant to wear than in the past.

Orthodontia and aligners
For those who wish to have a straighter smile or more aligned bite, the best option is often orthodontia. While orthodontia does include traditional metal braces, a newer option that is especially popular amongst adults is clear aligners, which can help shift teeth in a desired direction. The esthetic impact during the transition of teeth is less noticeable thanks to the see-through material used in the apparatus, which can alleviate some anxiety about having "adult braces."

Woman with braces.Orthodontia can help correct alignment and bite issues.

If you are interested in learning more about these, or other, cosmetic dental procedures, please contact City Dentists to schedule an appointment. Our friendly dentists and dental hygienists are enthusiastic to help you achieve your best oral health. We are located in modern, state-of-the-art facilities close to the Wellington train station, and offer a range of convenient appointment times!

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