While it’s true that the bread and butter procedures of dentistry largely exist within the scope of maintaining the health of a patient’s teeth, and resolving both new and pre-existing dental conditions, many dentists also perform a variety of other procedures that are typically categorized as cosmetic in nature.
Cosmetic dentistry procedures are unique among what would commonly be considered a cosmetic operation in other fields, as many cosmetic dental procedures also provide tangible, and sometimes quite significant, health benefits. While one patient may seek a cosmetic operation strictly for cosmetic purposes, another may do so exclusively for medical reasons.
The scope of cosmetic dental procedures can range from single appointment operations that are completed in under an hour, to complex surgical operations which require a multitude of appointments over a period of several months. Below, we’ll highlight several of the most commonly requested cosmetic procedures.
1. Dental Whitening
Far and away the most common cosmetic procedure a dentist is likely to perform is one where a patient’s teeth are whitened. Routine dental cleanings and tooth whitening procedures are sometimes mistaken to be similar procedures, but in reality, they’re entirely unrelated. A routine cleaning can be performed by a dental hygienist with the proper dental hygiene education and training. A cleaning will improve both the health and look of a patient’s teeth, whereas tooth whitening procedures can alter the shade of either a single tooth or more often, a series of teeth.
Whitening can be done to restore teeth to their natural shade, or to whiten them beyond even their original shade. Teeth receive a lot of punishment over a lifetime, and with time, the shade of our teeth can begin to naturally darken. External factors, such as the food we eat, can also contribute to and heavily accelerate the rate at which teeth begin to darken. Whitening procedures can be performed in a variety of ways, and are typically quick and effective.
2. Placing Dental Veneers
The placement of veneers is another common cosmetic operation dentists perform in order to improve the appearance of an individual’s teeth. Dental veneers are essentially shells which are affixed to the surface of a tooth in order to improve its appearance. Veneers are sought out for several reasons, such as to achieve a whitening effect that a patient’s natural teeth may not be capable of. Dental veneers can also be used in order to better align teeth, through artificially extending a tooth, or closing a gap between one or more teeth. Veneers are also useful for covering up previously damaged teeth.
One of the most common ways to replace multiple missing teeth is through the use of dentures. Dentures are a type of prosthetic, moulded and custom made to suit fit each and every patient, in order to provide them with replacement teeth that are both functional and appear natural. Dentures can be made using a variety of materials and at different sizes. Prosthetics such as dentures are where cosmetic dentistry noticeably begins to overlap with standard medical dentistry. Depending on the teeth being replaced, dentures can have a massive impact, enabling a patient to eat and speak normally, and feel more comfortable with their appearance.
4. Dental Implants
Dental implant surgery has grown substantially in popularity over several years due to the improved techniques, success rate, and reduction in time to surgical completion. Much like dentures, implants are a form of prosthetic intended to replace one or more missing teeth. Implants are unique in that they’re planted into the jaw bone, where their titanium placement posts bond with the patients bone, effectively enabling them to become permanent teeth. Implants look and feel exactly like natural teeth, while also helping to prevent a patient’s jaw bone and gums from receding over time.
The above procedures represent only a few of the most commonly sought out cosmetic operations a dentist can provide. If you’re interested in altering or improving your own dental condition, speak up to your care provider, you may be surprised by how they can help.