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Smile Makeover


Your smile can affect you either positively or negatively as it plays into your emotional, physical and psychological well being. Being proud of your smile can fill your life with joy, laughter and confidence. On the other hand, if you are self-conscious about your smile it can affect how others perceive you, and worse, how you perceive yourself. You may smile less, making you seem withdrawn, angry, and/or timid when you are not.

Smile makeovers improve the appearance of your smile through one or more cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as dental veneers, dental implants, and teeth whitening. Unlike the full mouth reconstruction procedure, smile makeovers are elected, not necessary. Smile makeovers can be easy or complex. You may need one or multiple treatments before reaching your ultimate goal.

Below is a list of the different types of procedures you can elect to give themselves a smile makeover. Traditionally, dentists and patients take many things into consideration before treatment begins. Radiographs (x-rays) are taken to help the dentist understand and prioritize the order of procedures. Other factors that are taken into consideration include your facial appearance, skin tone, hair color, teeth features, gum tissue and lips. Smile makeovers are customized for each individual, and generally the dentist and patient sit down and create a dental treatment plan.

Smile Makeover Procedures

There are several different procedures you can elect to help with your smile makeover. You may only need one or a combination of many to reach your goals. They include the following:

Teeth Whitening - This is the most popular option people choose to use when making over their smile. Teeth whitening products can be bought over the counter and performed in the privacy of your own home, or they can be done in a dentist’s office. Generally the process is done by either applying a gel or by having laser treatments done.

Dental Veneers - Veneers can be made of either composite resin or porcelain. They are becoming more popular, but prices are still very high for this procedure. Typically, a tooth-colored shell is bonded onto the surface or front of your teeth, changing the shape, color, size and overall appearance dramatically.

Filling Replacement - Up until recent times, cavities were filled with silver fillings. These days, a common procedure is to have the silver removed and replaced with a natural ‘tooth colored’ filling.

Dental Implants - Dental implants are a great option for people who are missing teeth, or have gaps between their teeth. Dental implants are also a great alternative to bridges, crowns and dentures. Plus, they blend in with natural teeth better than crowns, dentures and bridges.

Teeth Straightening - Cosmetic dentists tend to use a product called Invisalign instead of the orthodontic braces to straighten teeth. The clear, removable aligners move teeth closer together over a period of time. Typically, these do the same thing braces would do only braces are not removable and may be needed for a lesser amount of time. Retainers are used after braces are removed by an orthodontist. Sometimes the retainer is removable, other times it is not. Impressions are again taken of your teeth to help mold the retainer to fit your mouth.

Bonding - Dental bonding takes place when a tooth-colored resin material is applied to the tooth, then hardened with a special light, thus ‘bonding’ the material to the tooth. Generally, decaying, chipped, cracked, discolored and uneven teeth receive bonding treatments.

Dental Crowns - Dental crowns are basically tooth-shaped caps that are placed over a tooth that has been shaved or shrunk down in size. The crown completely covers the old tooth, restoring its shape, size, strength and appearance. Crowns can be temporary or permanent and made of metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal, resin, or ceramic.

Dental Bridges - Dental bridges literally bridge the gap between missing teeth. Bridges are made of two crowns for the teeth on both sides of the gap. They are supported by natural teeth and/or implants, and come in three main types: traditional, cantilever, and Maryland bonded.

Dentures - Dentures are removable, fake teeth used to replace missing teeth and gums. Dentures come in two types: full or partial. Personal habits change when dentures are used to fix teeth, as one must learn to eat and speak again. However, they are a great alternative to implants or veneers.

Smile Makeover Costs

The cost of your smile makeover depends on many factors such as:

  • The dentist who performs the procedures
  • The number of procedures you need
  • Type of procedures performed
  • The number of treatment sessions
  • Dental insurance coverage
  • Some procedures will need to be repeated in time
  • Materials used during procedures

Dentists typically charge similar prices for specific procedures. However, some dentists charge more for their work based on things such as credentials, continued training and experience. It is important to check with your dental insurance company to see if they cover certain costs of specific procedures. It may be more financially realistic to get crowns (usually covered by dental plans) rather than porcelain veneers (not covered by insurance companies). You and your dentist will consult and create a treatment plan together based on things such as the cost of individual treatment options, what you can afford and what your insurance covers.

The following chart shows estimated examples of prices, again prices vary:

Smile Makeover Procedure Estimated Cost Per Tooth
Dental Veneers $500-$2,500
Dental Implants $1,250-$3,000
Teeth Whitening $40-$2,000
Straightening Teeth $500 minimum
Filling Replacement $150-$200

Candidate for a Smile Makeover

Here are a few questions that may or may not suggest you are a candidate for a smile makeover. However, the only way to know for sure is to consult with your dentist.

  • Are you unhappy with the appearance of your smile?
  • Can you afford to pay for several types of procedures?
  • Will your insurance help cover the costs of certain procedures?
  • Do you have a realistic outlook?
  • Do you practice good oral hygiene?
  • Are you committed to the treatment plan?

Many times, people can only commit to procedures after certain things have occurred, such as recovering from the last procedure or saving up money for the next procedure. Occasionally, some people are not good candidates, especially if they are susceptible to tooth decay and/or diseases such as periodontal (gum) disease. Another example of a bad candidate would be a hockey player. In this case, it would probably be best if the athlete waited until they retired or stopped playing before electing to start a smile makeover.

Talking to Your Dentist

Here are some suggestive questions to ask your dentist about smile makeovers:

  • Which procedures should we consider for my smile makeover?
  • What costs are associated with these procedures?
  • What other options are available for my smile makeover?
  • How long will treatment take? How often will I need to schedule follow-up visits?
  • How severe are my oral problems?
  • How committed do I have to be to my treatment plan?
  • How many visits do you think it will take to reach my goal?
  • Will I need to see other dental specialists for treatment?
  • How long should I expect my restorations to last?

Page updated September 2012



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