Cosmetic dentistry is a truly precise practice. That makes sense—any profession that deals with such a crucial and visible part of the body, like the face, would need to be.
For cosmetic dentists, making sure that people come out of their offices looking better than they did going in is a priority, and not just for superficial reasons. Many people are very concerned about their appearance and the impression they make on others, and those concerns can impact their overall well-being.
The eyes and smile are usually the first things we notice in another person. Often, those of us who were genetically blessed with relatively straight teeth don’t give much thought to those living with issues like crooked or missing teeth.
They’re not just surface issues; these problems can not only lead to insecurities, but also to short- and long-term issues with pain and discomfort. That’s why many people with these problems will consider visiting an orthodontist or a cosmetic dentist.
That’s a good thing, since it’s not uncommon for people to avoid the dentist altogether. Sometimes, people choose to live with problems instead of fixing them, which almost always turns small issues into big ones.
So, what is a cosmetic dentist, and what are some reasons you might see one?
What is a cosmetic dentist?
If you’ve read this far and you’re still unsure what precisely cosmetic dentists do, not to worry, you’re far from alone. While cosmetic dentists can help with a range of common problems, it turns out that many patients are unaware of this. A survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found about 82% of those asked said it was their dentist who started the conversation about cosmetic dentistry. (1)
A cosmetic dentist is someone who generally deals with dental work meant to improve the appearance of your teeth, gums, or bite. They mainly focus on improving aesthetic problems, dealing with the color, shape, alignment, position, and overall appearance of teeth.
While these may come across as trivial issues in the grand scheme of things, cosmetic dentists can also help resolve minor issues that can become worse if left untreated. For example, you might consult a cosmetic dentist to perform dental bonding to mend cracks and chips, to fix issues related to missing teeth, or to put in crowns.
Cosmetic dentistry has been around a very long time, with big advances taking place in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is, however, much more common today, as the practice has evolved substantially over the years. (2)
People of all ages make the choice to pursue cosmetic dental work for many different reasons, and there are a wide range of available treatments. For example, porcelain veneers are hugely popular due to celebrity endorsements. Dental implants and 3-D modeling, planning, and printing are viable cosmetic options, especially for younger patients. If someone has suffered severe tooth damage, a full replacement may be the right course of treatment.
Of course, teeth whitening procedures have also become more common in recent years. They can provide a pearly white smile without the effort or cost of getting veneers. It’s a pretty good option for those who have straight, even teeth, but can be a little more difficult for those with uneven or crooked teeth, since it doesn’t fix the real problem at hand.
There are myriad reasons you might need to seek the help of a cosmetic dentist in order to finally achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. Here are some of them:
1. Stained Teeth
Over time you may discover that your teeth aren’t as white as they once were. Whether you consume a little too much coffee, drink wine with your nightly meal, or forget to brush both morning and night, stains can develop on your teeth. While you might not feel the need for blinding white teeth, the difference between normal, creamy colored teeth and yellow ones can be quite noticeable. If this the case with your smile, you might be feeling a little self-conscious about the discoloration.
Unfortunately, brushing will only take you so far. While it’s recommended to brush twice a day and floss after meals, this won’t guarantee you white teeth. Sometimes, along with regular cleaning, it’s worthwhile to have them professionally cleaned and whitened.
You can find at-home teeth whitening kits that work quite well. However, whitening is a very simple and non-invasive procedure, and having a dentist do the job will provide more noticeable results.
2. Chips or Cracks
Let’s face it, having chipped or cracked teeth can have a huge impact on your overall sense of well-being and self-esteem. This is why many people turn to cosmetic dentist to help cover up any issues that have been plaguing them. A cosmetic dentist can provide you with several treatment options, one of which is dental bonding.
Dental bonding is a procedure in which tooth-colored resin is put over the tooth and treated with a special light that “bonds” the resin to the tooth. This very easy and inexpensive procedure can repair small chips and cracks, reduce gaps between your teeth, and can also be used as an alternative to silver amalgam fillings.
3. Missing Teeth
There are many reasons why you could have missing teeth. Losing them in accidents, for example, is quite common. Some people are born missing teeth as well. A cosmetic dentist can help by providing you with dental implants or dental bridges.
Dental implants are a great option for when one or more teeth are missing and are usually thought of as the best way to replace missing teeth. If there is significant damage, your dentist can also organize dentures.
Bridges are an alternative to implants, and are very common as well. Bridges are applied in smaller areas, where there isn’t enough room to have a dental implant and the area isn’t suited to a crown or a dental cap.
4. Damaged Teeth
If your teeth have suffered some damage, but are still largely intact, a cosmetic dentist may still be able to help you.
Sometimes a regular dentist can do everything they can to re-attach or fix a tooth, but if the damage is too severe—which can lead to a dead tooth—a cosmetic dentist should be able to fix the issue. They can provide for you the same solutions as above in the form of a dental implant.
Cosmetic dentists can also help fix damaged teeth with crowns. The most commonly used material in these is porcelain, which mimics the look of real teeth very convincingly.
5. Gum Disease
Another reason you may need to seek the help of a cosmetic dentist is if you suffer from gum disease. Many people suffer from such diseases due to improper or inadequate oral health practices. Gum disease can cause a lot of pain in your gum line which can stop you from being able to eat a proper diet. It can also cause your teeth to appear less healthy.
There are different types of gum disease and issues, including gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis (gum disease). It’s important to note that gingivitis is often the precursor to periodontitis, which is why it’s crucial to treat any gum inflammation before it gets worse. (3)
You should go see your dentist, or consider looking for a cosmetic dentist, if you have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Swollen, red or tender gums
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- Consistent bad breath
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Receding gums
- Deep pockets formed between the teeth and the gums
- Changes in the way your teeth meet biting down. (4)
Many people also look into cosmetic dentistry for gum rejuvenation, which can help restore your gums to their younger state.
6. Alternatives to Braces
Most people who struggle with crooked or overcrowded teeth will seek the help of an orthodontist to fix these issues. While regular braces do fall under the cosmetic dentistry umbrella, there are also other options, including:
Braces, and these alternatives, can help not only with things like crooked teeth, but also with jaw alignment, overbite, and underbite issues. Veneers, on the other hand, simply cover these issues up, but can’t correct them.
As previously mentioned, confidence is one of the many benefits of better looking teeth and improved oral hygiene. Not feeling comfortable enough to smile or laugh at work, or around family and friends, can really put a damper on things. For many, taking some pride in their appearance is a priority not because they want other’s approval, but because they want to feel happy and at home within themselves.
When your tooth is damaged or dying, it can appear yellow, gray, light brown, or black. This discoloration will only increase over time as the tooth continues to decay. Many people who suffer from this become very self-conscious. Sometimes it can happen very quickly—one day you have a nice white tooth, and the next it’s showing signs of decay. If this has happened to you, you know how awful it can be to try and hide it. (5)
Whatever your problem, if your confidence is affected by it, consider consulting a cosmetic dentist for help. Whether you could benefit from veneers, braces, teeth sculpting, or whitening, a cosmetic dentist can help put the sparkle back in your smile.
8. Fight the Effects of Aging
Let’s be honest—as you get older there are some inevitable, but unwelcome, changes to your body, inside and out.
You might experience hair loss, wrinkles, muscle soreness, joint pain or a change in your teeth and oral health. Whether your teeth weaken over time and become brittle, discolor beyond repair, or even fall out, wanting to fight these signs of aging makes a lot of sense.
Much like when you visit a doctor, or seek the guidance of a dermatologist for your skin, a cosmetic dentist can address the impact of aging on your teeth. Together, you can fight visible signs of aging that perhaps you didn’t even realize you could fix.
Feeling better about yourself is very important, and aging can have a huge impact on your self-esteem. Many people who struggle with poor oral health as they get older can benefit from gum rejuvenation and veneers, not only to treat those underlying issues, but to smile with confidence again—and to give themselves and their self-esteem a boost in the process.
9. Prevent Future Oral Health Problems
Your teeth are one of the first things that people see when they talk to you. To prevent any unwelcome or unexpected issues, you may want to turn to a cosmetic dentist to put preventative measures in place.
Cosmetic dental procedures can often fix problems with discoloration that can lead to cavities. Covering teeth with caps or crowns can also prevent them, while helping to restore the original shape of your teeth or tooth if there has been any damage.
Plaque buildup, tooth decay, and oral diseases can affect your day-to-day life, impacting what you eat and even causing digestive issues and respiratory problems, so preventative care can make a big difference.
At the end of the day, there are two major factors that could lead you to seek the help of a cosmetic dentist: health and improving confidence.
Your smile is a defining aspect of your face, something people will remember about you; therefore, it’s important to maintain healthy habits and place your trust in professional help if need be. Everyone deserves to have a healthy mouth, and to feel confident enough to show off their smile with comfort and ease.
Whether you’re struggling with pain, or you’re discouraged time and again from smiling because you hate how your teeth look, there are many options that can help you.
A cosmetic dentist can provide you with teeth whitening solutions, braces, gum rejuvenation, solutions to manage gum health, and so much more. They can also offer you porcelain crowns, veneers, implants, or dental bonding. Rest assured, when you turn to an experienced, well-respected cosmetic dentist your teeth are in good hands.