Cosmetic dentistry seeks to improve the appearance of a smile through a variety of treatments that can repair damaged teeth, modify tooth spacing and correct discoloration. The most common procedures include tooth whitening, veneers, bonding and enamel shaping procedures.
Enhancements For A Beautiful Smile
By Katherine Ladny Mitchell
Teeth tend to turn yellow with age and may become stained over time as a result of smoking, drinking tea and coffee, or taking certain medications. To correct this, teeth whitening, or bleaching, involves using hydrogen or carbamine peroxide gels to oxidize tooth stains. Office treatments can make teeth four to six shades brighter in about an hour, while treatments taken at home may produce results after several weeks. Dentists can make a customfitted mouthpiece to ensure gum protection during the chemical application, and can also help alleviate any tooth sensitivity resulting from the bleaching process.
Veneers are thin, custom-made layers of porcelain that cover the front side of teeth to improve tooth color, strength, chips and spacing. Veneers tend to look natural and resist staining. A dentist will first remove a thin layer of tooth enamel to make room for the veneer. He or she will then take impressions of the teeth. During a second office visit, the dentist will cement the veneer to the tooth.
Bonding is the process of attaching strong, tooth-colored materials to chipped, discolored, unevenly spaced or misshapen teeth to improve a smile’s appearance and function. Bonding can also be used as a tooth-colored filling for small cavities.
Enamel shaping, also called tooth shaping, involves contouring the outer layer of teeth, altering their shape and length to produce a more attractive smile. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, enamel shaping is ideal for candidates with normal, healthy teeth who want subtle changes to their smile. It’s common for dentists to use bonding in addition to this quick and painless procedure. Depending on the thickness of your enamel, a tooth that has been recontoured may become sensitive.