Cosmetic dentistry is dentistry whose main goal is to restore a patient’s smile as opposed to simply preserving their oral health, but often the two do overlap. For example, creating a partial denture or an implant for a patient not only improves their appearance, but helps them to chew their food and therefore make their digestion easier and more efficient. Because a tooth will need to be cleaned and prepared before even a cosmetic procedure, the chances of the tooth becoming infected are minimized.
In other words, cosmetic dentistry is an area of expertise that not only calls on the dentist’s usual technical skills but their sense of esthetics. The health of the tooth not only has to be considered, but also its color, its shape, its size relative to patient’s other teeth, its textures and contours as well. The cosmetic dentist also has to take into account the patient’s gender and age and what they want the cosmetic dentistry to accomplish. Sometimes the “Hollywood smile” of perfectly white and perfectly straight teeth isn’t possible, or even desirable!
There are many cosmetic dental procedures a patient can choose from. Cosmetic dentistry has advanced so much that the new teeth can be the exact color, size and shape of the patient’s natural teeth. This is now determined not by the dentist alone, but by computer.
People can have veneers placed on teeth that are chipped, misaligned or discolored. These are shells made out of porcelain that are bonded to the tooth after it’s been prepared. Dental crowns can be used for bridges or implants and can be made of several materials, including gold, porcelain or resin. Implants are when a crown is cemented in place on a post that has been fused into the jawbone, a process that takes some months. Onlays fill prepared cavities in a tooth and cover at least part of the top of the tooth, while inlays just fill the cavity. Oral surgeons often place onlays on the teeth if they’re weak and in danger of cracking.