Everyone wants to love their smile. It’s not just about pride—it’s about confidence and communication too. As a culture, we smile to express pleasure and interest, to defend ourselves against sad or unpleasant situations, to greet one another, and to indicate confidence and charisma in stressful or intimidating situations. If you don’t like your smile, your confidence in social situations decreases significantly.
So it’s not just about aesthetics, although there are certainly elements of vanity in wanting to have a beautiful smile. It’s much more important to have self-confidence…which is why Americans spend billions of dollars on dental cosmetics annually.
What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
Many dentists market themselves as “cosmetic dentists,” though the title doesn’t officially exist. “Cosmetic dentists” don’t have any special training or experience—the only dental fields that work specifically with cosmetic or aesthetic dental work are prosthodontics (which replaces missing or damaged teeth) and orthodontics (which works with dental displacement or improper bites). So when your dentist’s office proclaims to be the #1 “cosmetic dentistry of Hamilton,” what it really means is that it’s a normal dentist’s office that does cosmetic work as well as cleanings, root canals, etc.
So if cosmetic dentistry doesn’t include working with braces or missing teeth, what does itdeal with? Plenty. Cosmetic dentistry covers teeth whitening or bleaching, dental bonding, veneers, and crowns. It beautifies anything about your smile that orthodontics and prosthodontics can’t fix.
Explore Your Options
If you’re looking to get some cosmetic dentistry work done, there are plenty of options to consider.
Teeth Whitening and Bleaching
If your teeth are healthy, straight, and even, and your smile looks just like you want it to, the only thing left to do is to make sure that the color of your teeth isn’t distracting. Teeth whitening can be done in many different ways. Some toothpastes or home remedies (such as rubbing strawberries on your teeth—the acids in the berries will help to bleach the enamel on your teeth) work for some people. Others choose to go straight to their dentists to get more specialized products or even in-office teeth whitening procedures.
Dental bonding is the process of fixing teeth that are cracked, chipped, discolored, or misshapen. Dentists match a tooth resin to the color of the rest of your teeth, and then they adhereit to the damaged area of the tooth to give it an even, uniform look. It is a fairly simple procedure; it can be done in one visit, is relatively cheap, and it doesn’t involve removing as much enamel as other procedures do.
Veneers and Crowns
Veneers and crowns are meant to fix the same problems as dental bonding—they cover stains and discoloration and hide chips and cracks. Crowns are “caps” that cover the entire tooth, and are also often used for medical reasons (such as strengthening decayed or damaged teeth). Veneers are tooth-colored shells that are placed on the surface of the teeth; they can also change the size of your teeth, close gaps, and fix teeth that are irregularly shaped. Both of these options will usually last longer and are more stain-resistant than dental bonding, but they are also more expensive. Veneers and crowns have to be manufactured in labs outside the office, which makes them both more expensive and time consuming. And since a layer of your teeth has to be scraped away to attach the veneer or crown, they can also be potentially more dangerous.
Getting that Smile
Orthodontics, veneers, teeth whitening…it seems a lot to go through just to get a whiter or straighter smile. But whatever you choose to do will be worth the trouble and expense to improve your self-image. Cosmetic dentistry might be more about the looks than “typical” dentistry, but fixing chips, cracks, and gaps will improve the health of your teeth as well as the aesthetics, and might just save you a trip to the “real” dentist years down the road.
Cosmetic dentistry is important both physically and emotionally, and if you choose the right avenue for you and your teeth, you’ll be well on your way to that 1,000 watt smile that will leave you happy and confident in every situation.