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Cosmetic Dentistry: Know ALL Your Options
Various surveys report that when you meet someone for the first time, you notice their smile more than any other feature. This fact is why so many people are interested in cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry can include whitening, porcelain veneers, orthodontics (braces), dental implants, oral surgery, gum lifts, tooth-colored fillings or even a fresh set of dentures. And depending which type of dentist you go to, you may be offered only one or two of these options, whereas a combination of several treatments may be more appropriate. Since there are so many options to choose from, this article will help you make an informed and intelligent decision about which options are best for you.
Tooth whitening uses various forms of hydrogen peroxide, which has been shown to be not only safe for teeth but also beneficial to the gums. The major drawbacks to whitening are sensitivity and unpredictability. Various “whitening strips” can be purchased over the counter and work well for light staining on otherwise normal teeth. Custom bleaching trays provided by a dentist provide even better results, if you are willing to wear them for at least 15 minutes a day for a few weeks. In-office bleaching in a dental office does the same job very quickly and any sensitivity is short lived. Finally, “Kor Whitening” is a special system developed to treat tetracycline staining which combines in-office treatments and take home trays to get the best results with the least sensitivity.
Porcelain veneers are thin facings that are bonded to the front of your teeth to restore your smile. They can completely cover stains, as well as even out crooked teeth and make chipped teeth look like new. The results can be dramatic and immediate, and the veneers can last for decades. The drawbacks are high cost, sensitivity, and the need to replace them periodically. But for certain cases the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. The veneers can usually be completed in just a few visits, making them perfect for patients wanting “immediate gratification.”
If you don’t mind waiting some months for your new smile, orthodontics may be a much better option than porcelain veneers. For patients with nice looking natural teeth, just crooked or gapped, orthodontics is a more natural and cost-effective approach. Invisalign is a series of clear plastic trays which gently move your teeth to their new, straight position. At an average treatment time of only 11 months, Invisalign is quicker and easier than traditional braces, plus there are no diet restrictions and no issues brushing and flossing.
The Comprehensive Approach The comprehensive approach utilizes all of the above options and more by combining two or more treatment modalities. It starts with identifying the patient’s desired result, budget, lifestyle issues and time frame. All of these factors can influence a patient’s decision about treatment and should be taken into consideration by the dentist.