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Cosmetic dentistry primarily involves improving a person's smile and facial appearance. It could involve the teeth, gums, cheeks, lips, or the bite of the patient. Accordingly, a change can be produced in the color, position, size or shape of the teeth, alignment of the teeth, contouring of the smile, etc. The end result is always a better facial appearance and improved confidence level of the patient.
Some common examples of cosmetic dentistry include:
- Teeth whitening: There are very few people who are happy with the color of their teeth. Everybody wants whiter teeth and therefore go for options like bleaching. This can be done either in the dental office or done at home. A word of caution though - go for teeth whitening only after the consultation with a dentist.
- Veneers, crowns: Just as the color of the teeth, the shape of the teeth also leaves a lot to be desired for almost everybody. Veneers are applied on the teeth after removing a thin layer of tooth structure. Minor reshaping and contouring of the tooth can also be done, especially to improve appearance in the front teeth.
- Tooth contouring/shaping: The edges of the teeth can be smoothened by mere shaping or contouring. There is no extra material that is added to the tooth here. In some cases, a thin layer of resin may be bonded to the tooth if required.
- Bridges: In cases the adjacent teeth shape, size, or color mismatch, then bridges can be done to even out the difference and produce a more corrected appearance.
- Braces: Braces are a big hit as they help correct misaligned teeth. However, the next step with invisible braces and ceramic braces is another step towards moving away from the traditional metal braces, which itself was not cosmetically received.
- Onlays and Inlays: Improper tooth shapes can be corrected with parts of the teeth that either replace only a small decayed portion or the entire crown portion to produce a more pleasing effect.
- Implants: Though fixed bridges do a very good job at replacing lost teeth, implants go to the next level in terms of the aesthetic replacement.
- Gingivoplasty: In cases where the gums have black spots, are too short, or are too long, the gums can be shaped to provide a better teeth visibility. The gums can also be sculpted to produce a more appealing gum line that shows off the teeth to give a more harmonious smile.
- Bite correction: In addition to braces, in some cases, bite correction may be required to smoothen out a sharp cusp or reduce the prominence of the canine.
With a number of corrections possible, cosmetic dentistry is here to stay - just as the drive to look good.
You are in the middle of a hot summer afternoon and decide to have some ice to cool off. Suddenly you hear a crackle and something comes into your mouth that doesn't quite taste like ice. Oops! That's a part of your broken teeth! Although your first instinct is to panic, don't worry as there are a lot of things dentists can do these days to fix chipped teeth.
A tooth may chip off for some other reasons too. Decay being one of the main culprits, it erodes the top enamel leaving the tooth exposed to decay. Taking an unsightly fall or getting your teeth broken in a fight are some of the other reasons why your teeth may break o partially chip off. Here are some things you can do:
- Take care of you chipped tooth: The first thing to do when you realize that you have a chipped tooth is to see a dentist. If you are unfortunately suffering from this problem on a weekend when a dentist near you isn't accessible, keep the jagged edge of the broken tooth covered with a sugarless chewing gum or paraffin. If you get hungry, opt for a liquid diet or soft solids that don't require chewing.
- Treatment: Filling or bonding that is if you've chipped a visible tooth in your frontline, your dentist will use a tooth coloured composite resin for a 'bonding' procedure. If it is one of your inside teeth, your dentist may try a simple 'filling' to fix things up. Bonding is pretty much 'gluing' bits of your artificial teeth on. The dentist clears up the surface to place the adhesive and sticks the bonding material and then hardens it into shape with ultraviolet light.
- Adding a crown or dental cap: This procedure is used when a larger piece of tooth chips off, it happens mainly due to decay. The dentist will chip off the edges from your broken teeth and cover it with a crown or cap to protect the tooth from further damage. The cap also acts as a cosmetic fixture not making anyone realize that it is different from your real teeth.
Patients are generally given a choice on the material for the cap, which they can choose based on cost and cosmetics. A metal cap is the strongest, but can make you look like a villain from yesteryears, which has an evil glint in every smile. The other common options are porcelain fused to metal, all ceramic or all resin. This procedure will require more than one visit for x-rays, taking an impression of the tooth, trial for your crown and finally fixing it. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dentist.