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Cosmetic Dentistry


Cosmetic dentistry focuses more on the appearance of one’s teeth, gums and smile. When someone sees a cosmetic dentist, they are doing so as an elective procedure. The ADA or American Dental Association does not include cosmetic dentistry within their nine specialty fields. Because of this, there are no restrictions if dentists what to state that he or she is a cosmetic dentist. However, the AACD or American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry prefers dentists become certified before advertising themselves as such. Some dentists who are ADA-accredited in Prosthodontics and Orthodontics feel and state they are cosmetic dentists, since their line of work generally involves improving the appearance of ones teeth, gums or mouth. This is common and perfectly legal due to the vague definition of ‘cosmetic dentist’ within the rules and regulations set forth by the ADA.

Cosmetic dentists are generally experienced in a certain field and trained beyond the national and state requirements. Cosmetic dentists are known to provide restorative benefits to their patients. For example, up until recently when a patient needed a filling, it was made up of materials such as gold or amalgam. These days, dental fillings can be made of materials such as porcelain or composite materials that match your teeth. By using newer, trendier materials, dentists fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic Dentistry Technology Advancements

As mentioned above, because of technological advancements in the dental world, dentists are able to help patients get that natural look back in their teeth. Dentists are able to match you tooth color, as well as your tooth’s structure almost perfectly. Technology advancements have also improved times of surgeries, as well recovery times for patients. For example, lasers are now being used to whiten teeth and remove old, dark stains from the enamel. Laser treatments usually take a couple minutes and are painless.

Cosmetic Dentistry Treatment Options

Here’s a brief description of the different cosmetic dentistry procedures:

Indirect Fillings – These are also known as inlays and onlays, and are made from porcelain or composite material. They are used as fillings to stop tooth decay or similar structural damage. They differ from dental fillings because they are created in a dental lab before they are fitted into your mouth, and they are adhesively bonded into place. Dental fillings are molded into place during the dental visit.

Composite Bonding – Composite bonding is done when teeth are chipped, broken, discolored or is decaying. The composite material used has the look of enamel. Dentin (the material used) is applied to the tooth, the dentist sculpts it into shape, and then contours and hardens the material with a high-intensity light.

Teeth Whitening- Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure. It can be done by a dentist in a safe, secure setting or in the comfort of your own home. Generally, the teeth are bleached to enhance your smile.

Dental Veneers- Chipped or cracked teeth can be replaced with dental veneers made of composite or porcelain laminates. They are adhesively bonded to the surface of your original tooth and can also be used when attempts to whiten your teeth fails.

Dental Implants- Dental implants are artificial tooth root replacements, used mainly in Prosthetic dentistry. Generally implants are used to replace missing teeth or teeth that are not repairable.

Smile Makeover- This can vary from patient to patient, however smile makeovers involve assessing ones smile, documenting what needs improvement and taking the necessary steps to complete the overall appearance of one’s smile. It could include one, two or all of the treatment options listed here.

Reconstruction of the Mouth – Full mouth reconstruction procedures are done when there is a need to correct functional problems that are diagnosed in your bite, muscles, teeth and bone structure.

In most cases, cosmetic dentistry is not covered by insurance companies since procedures such as teeth whitening are a ‘cosmetic’ procedure. Other times, the procedure is necessary and isn’t so much an elective, and therefore insurance companies cover some of the costs. If you are someone who wants to improve your smile, cosmetic dentistry may be for you.

Page updated September 2012



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