8 Tips for Changing your Smile with Cosmetic Dental Treatment
Having the confidence to proudly smile doesn’t come naturally to everyone. For many this is due to feeling unhappy with the appearance of their teeth. Crookedness, stains, gaps, tooth shape and enamel quality are all things that can affect how a person feels about their smile.
With many cosmetic dental treatments now available, from whitening to aligning to veneers, the options for enhancing your smile are aplenty and can provide a life-altering confidence booster. Furthermore, cosmetic dentistry can provide functional benefits to your teeth and overall health too.
St John Dentist Dr Zena Ibrahim says one of the most important considerations for achieving a great smile with cosmetic dentistry is to aim for a result that’s going to look natural and suit the individual.
“A good dentist will work with a person’s face shape, looking at bone structure, their age and the character of their teeth and jaw. You want a smile to look great and suit a person, and the best way to achieve that is to make it look natural by enhancing rather than dramatically altering what they have,” says Dr Ibrahim.
Changing the appearance of your smile with cosmetic dental
Teeth whitening can refresh and brighten a person’s smile and addresses teeth yellowing. Dentists offer two types of whitening treatments and will make a recommendation based on individual circumstances. Both treatments are a peroxide formula applied to the teeth.
In-chair whitening is delivered at a single sitting at the dentist, following an initial consult where moulds of the teeth and gums will be taken. The whitening procedure takes 1-1.5 hours with the benefit of immediate results. In-chair whitening may not be suitable for everyone and is something your dentist can advise on.
Take-home whitening treatment is the alternative and uses the same clinical grade product used by the dentist, however in lower concentration. This allows a more gradual process which the patient can self-manage. It’s a more suitable treatment for those who may experience teeth sensitivity.
Your dentist will be able to advise on the suitability of whitening treatment. Whitening cannot be performed where there is active disease present or issues that may cause irreversible sensitivity.
Minor cosmetic teeth straightening can now be achieved using removable plastic retainers called Invisalign. Invisalign use a series of clear, removable plastic trays (aligners) that fit over the teeth. The custom-made aligners are changed approximately every two weeks throughout the treatment to move teeth into the desired position.
Teeth straightening not only offers a cosmetic benefit, it can also improve oral hygiene by enhancing a person’s ability to clean properly, which is more difficult in a crowded mouth.
Straightening may also be recommended as a preliminary treatment for someone planning further cosmetic work, such as veneers.
Simple alignment can be performed by selected general dentists however more complex treatment may require an orthodontist.
For someone with poor enamel quality or staining on a front tooth, veneers can be transformative. A veneer is a thin ‘cover’ which may be either composite or ceramic, placed over the front of the tooth.
Before having veneers applied, moulds and photos of your teeth will be taken by the dentist and then sent to a lab to build the ideal shape. The external layer of the tooth is buffed to prepare the surface where the veneer will be applied, but the tooth’s natural shape will be retained (unlike crowns which involve major work to the tooth’s shape).
Composite veneers are made of a white filling material which bonds to the tooth enamel. They are built-up on the patient’s tooth while in the chair, according to the bespoke design created in the lab. Composite veneers are a cost-effective option and can allow you to ‘trial your smile’ if you’re considering investing in more-costly ceramic veneers. Composite veneers will last about 5-10 years on the tooth but can stain and degrade over time.
Ceramic veneers can last 10-15 years and unlike composite veneers are made by lab technicians who hand files and glazes your custom set in a lab, before they are applied to the tooth by your dentist. Initially, ceramic veneers are temporarily bonded before being permanently fixed.
For patients considering ceramic veneers, a process of alignment, whitening and then bonding is sometimes recommended to maximise the results of your cosmetic dental work.
Treating Gaps and chips
Where a person has a gap between their front teeth (a diastema) or a chipped tooth, a composite filling or ceramic veneer may be an option for building up the tooth to close the gap.
Where gaps are present due to a tooth missing, your dentist may recommend filling the gap with a bridge, implant, or denture. This serves a functional benefit as well as cosmetic, to ensure the teeth either side don’t collapse in toward the gap. Top teeth also tend to look for their lower ‘pair’ to meet with when you bite. If it’s not there, the tooth may begin to move down to try meet it, shifting out of alignment with other teeth.
Tips for achieving a smile that’s right for you
- Have realistic expectations about what you want to achieve. Dentists will work with your face shape and bone structure to achieve a result that suits you. Going beyond this may require orthodontics and will also be limited to bone structure. Not everyone can have a smile as wide as Julia Roberts – but nor would it look good on everyone!
- Talk through your expectations with your dentist in advance of treatment so they can advise on whether your desired smile can be achieved. They may recommend you see an advanced cosmetic dentist, orthodontist or prosthodontist.
- Ensure your oral hygiene is in good shape. Before undergoing cosmetic dental work, start with a check-up and clean. Having the feeling of healthy clean teeth can be a confidence booster in itself and will create best foundation for your cosmetic dental work.
- Whiter is not always better. Consider what looks natural and healthy for your age group. For example, a very white smile might suit someone in their 20s but not someone in their 60s who might look better with a toned-down white. Teeth should maintain character reflective of your age to achieve brilliant natural results.
- If you’re considering having cosmetic dental work done overseas, remember the age-old saying “you get what you pay for.” Overseas dentists may not be held to the same standards or regulations as Australian dentists, and the result could be very different to what you’d hoped for. This can be particularly apparent with veneers.
- Teeth have a natural gradient which is usually more yellow at the gum line. A good dentist will always try to mimic this when doing a front veneer or front filling. You want your front teeth to match in natural colour progression, not have one that stands out because it is completely white.
- Check-in with your health insurance fund in advance. If you have private health insurance you may be eligible for some cosmetic dental procedures under your ‘major dental’ coverage. Your dentist can provide you with an estimate and relevant line items in advance so your insurance provider can advise on your coverage level or options. Ensure you check any cost gaps and waiting periods.
- Great cosmetic dental treatment should be undetectable. A natural finish that enhances what you have and maintains some individual character will usually deliver a much better result than trying to achieve a ‘Hollywood smile.’
If you’re considering cosmetic dental, speak to your St John Dentist who will be able to advise on your individual circumstances and treatment that’s right for you.
St John Dental have locations across the Perth Metro area, including Armadale, Cannington, Cockburn, Joondalup and Midland. Their team of professional and caring team dental practitioners provide ongoing and regular family care to patients as well as emergency dental. Book in to see your favourite dentist at St John Dental today.
Dr Zena Ibrahim is based at St John Dental, Cannington and Midland. You can book a consultation with Dr Zena Ibrahim here.
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