Ever wondered if cosmetic dentistry could give you the smile you always dreamed of having, but not sure where to start? This list should help…
A is for Anesthesia. Most people opting for cosmetic dentistry are happy with a local anesthesia, which blocks pain transmission by the alveolar nerves by a needle usually inserted behind the back molar. Usually lidocane or xylocaine are used, while a topical anesthetic may be applied first to numb the area. When lots of tricky work needs to be done or when the patient is unusually nervous, sedation dentistry or general anesthesia may be used.
B is for Bridges. Dental bridges bridge the gaping holes left by missing teeth. Traditional bridges are the most common, with crowns on either side. Cantilever bridges are used when one tooth sits alone on just one side of the missing one. Maryland bonded bridges are more elaborate, constructed using plastic teeth and gums.
C is for Crowns. Used for both cosmetic and structural purposes, dental crowns sit on top of teeth to make them stronger, look better, or be closer to their original shape. Made of either porcelain, metal or both, they can make worn-out or crooked gnashers appear sparkling brand new.
D is for Dentures. Complete or full dentures are for people who have lost all their teeth, partial dentures are “bridges” of false teeth which are usually fixed in place. They cannot be removed for cleaning, but they look more natural than complete dentures. However, they can only be worn by people who still have some teeth of their own adjacent to the bridge for support.
E is for Enamel. Most people looking at your smile will notice your tooth enamel before anything else. It’s the outer layer of your teeth and can be anything from very yellow to a gray whitish color. Tooth decay affects enamel thanks to plaque, which breaks it down and causes a cavity to form. While yellowing teeth is not abnormal, cosmetic dentists nonetheless do lots of work on tooth enamel!
F is for Full Mouth Restoration. A term often used in cosmetic dentistry which means to rebuild or restore all the teeth in your mouth, both the upper and lower jaws. May involve a veritable mob of specialists, including restorative dentists, orthodontists, periodontists and endodontists.
G is for Gingivectomy. A form of gum surgery that seeks to minimize excess gum tissue which can grow over an individual’s tooth. It can be carried out to removed a diseased tooth, give access to a filling or simply to perfect your beautiful smile. Considered only minor surgery, it’s done with a local anesthetic.
H is for Hypersensitivity. This happens mainly due to bad brushing, which results in recession of the gum. Make life bearable again by using a “sensitive” toothpaste containing potassium nitrate, using fluoride mouthwashes and avoiding overly acidic food – or see your cosmetic dentist who may close the tooth root pores through a method called bonding.
I is for Invisible Braces. Invaslign is perhaps the most well-known in this category, braces that are worn just 22 hours a day (they are removed when eating or cleaning your teeth). Virtually invisible, you will have to wear them for up to a year and a half for best results.
J is for Jaw Pain. You may think this has nothing to do with dentistry- wrong! Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD, occurs thanks to problems with the jaw and muscles that control chewing. So get thee to a dentist and have them sort out your pain – and your smile.
K is for Kissable Smile. The end result of cosmetic dentistry – you hope!
L is for Lumineers. Also known as Da Vinci veneers, these are ultra-thin. Little tooth preparation is necessary, so you can actually have the process reversed if desired. In fact, they’re so flimsy they’ve been dubbed “contact lenses for the teeth.”
M is for Microabrasion. This cosmetic treatment is primarily to get rid of white spots that have appeared on the teeth for a variety of reasons, including over-fluoridation and the after-effects of braces removal. Pumice and acid are put on the teeth by your dentist, with usually good results.
N is for Nightguard. If you grind your teeth at night, you suffer from “bruxism”. Teeth grinding annoys others and can also cause your teeth to wear down and even start to misalign your jaw. A nightguard worn over the teeth cushions the grinding effect between the upper and lower gnashers.
O is for Orthodontics. Time was when only kids went to an orthodontist, who corrects teeth misalignment and problems associated with biting. Now more and more adults are visiting their local ortho. The younger you start treatment, the less painful it will be.
P is for Porcelain Veneer. These handy little pieces of porcelain are specially made to fit over existing teeth, creating immediately visible cosmetic improvement for ones that are chipped, cracked, misaligned or just plain stained and dirty. Be aware that they can often look fake.
Q is for Quadrant Scaling. A type of “mouth disinfectant”, this rids any of the four quadrants of your oral cavity from pathogens. Good for people who don’t have the time for a FMD, of Full Mouth Disinfectant, or who only need specific quadrants scaled.
R is for Root Canal. Believe it or not, tooth discoloration may signify the need for a root canal, when the diseased pulp tissue from inside a tooth is removed. It is estimated that more than 17 million teeth each year are saved in the US alone thanks to this op.
S is for Smile Makeover. Get the Hollywood smile you desire with a complete makeover that includes straightening, fixing and whitening. Not cheap – but can be worth it!
T is for Tooth Whitening. Make them pearly white either with in-house dental treatment, an at-home kit, or a good whitening toothpaste. Everyone responds differently to whitening treatments, so you’ll have to shop around to see what’s best.
U is for Unlicensed Practitioners. They abound in areas such as tooth whitening, so make sure you only visit a qualified dental practitioner for the best care in cosmetic dentistry available.
V is for Veneers. Cover the teeth to make them look better. Can be made of porcelain (see above) or composite resin. Sometimes professional whitening is all you need to get that gorgeous smile.
W is for White Fillings. The preferred way to fill a cavity as they are functional, look more natural and are considered safer than other types of fillings. However, it is recommended to replace existing fillings only when your dentist says it’s absolutely necessary.
X is for Xerostomia. Also known as terminal cotton mouth, this is a condition where the mouth is always dry because of reduced spit in the oral cavity. Often it’s the result of another medical condition or a by-product of certain medications, but if can affect your medical and dental health.
Y is for Yellowness of Teeth. While genes play a role in our teeth color, so do outside factors such as whether we drink too much tea, coffee or red wine, whether we smoke, medications taken as a child and yes, our dental hygiene. Proper tooth cleaning – including flossing – and regular dental visits should be the first step before investigating drastic whitening measures.
Z is for Zoom Whitening. One of the most popular whitening treatments around, it involves a dentist applying a special gel followed by a special light to get rid of as many stains and as much discoloration as possible. Several treatments are necessary.