What is cosmetic dentistry and
how can it improve my smile?
Your dentist can perform a variety of cosmetic procedures to improve your smile—from subtle changes to major repairs. There are many techniques and options to treat teeth that are discolored, chipped, misshapen, or missing. Your dentist can reshape your teeth, close spaces,
restore worn teeth, or alter the length of your teeth. Common procedures include teeth whitening, bonding, caps, crowns, veneers, and reshaping and contouring.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a common and popular chemical process used to lighten teeth.
Some people get their teeth whitened to make stains disappear, while others
just want a brighter smile. Discoloration, which occurs in the enamel, can be
caused by medication, coffee, tea, and cigarettes. Discoloration also can be due
to your genetic make up or simply from aging. Teeth whitening can be performed
by your dentist in the office or, under dental supervision, at home.
What is bonding?
Bonding is the use of tooth-colored material to fill in gaps or change the color of
teeth. Bonding lasts several years and often requires only a single office visit.
Bonding is more susceptible to staining or chipping than other forms of restoration.
When teeth are chipped or slightly decayed, bonded composite resins may
be the material of choice. Bonding also is used to fill small cavities, to close spaces
between teeth, or to cover the entire outside surface of a tooth.
What are veneers?
Veneers are placed over the front teeth to change the color or shape of your
teeth. Veneers are used on teeth with uneven surfaces; on teeth that are chipped,
discolored, oddly shaped, unevenly spaced, or crooked; or on teeth that
already have large fillings placed. Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic
that are cemented over the front of your teeth. Veneers are used to treat some of
the same problems that bonding is used to treat. Veneers also are an alternative
What should I look for in a
In order to make sure your dentist is skilled in cosmetic dentistry, the American
Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recommends that you ask your dentist for
the following items before undergoing treatment:
Before and after photos. These photos
will allow you to examine the results
of other patients being treated by the
dentist to make sure his or her work fits
your dental needs.
References. References allow you to
get a sense of the quality of care the
Proof of continuing education. Be
certain that your dentist has taken continuing
education courses to keep him or
her up-to-date with the latest techniques
in clinical cosmetic dentistry.
Your dentist can answer the questions
you have about the techniques used to
improve your smile.
The condition of your teeth and your
desired result often indicate the best
procedure for you.