The Non-Dental Factors of Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry, your face and smile
Whitening your teeth is one aspect of cosmetic dentistry. Getty Images

There are many reasons that may prevent us from having confidence in our smile. Deciding to enhance your smile or brighten your teeth can be a life changing, confidence boosting experience.

With a wide range of solutions for that dazzling white smile, there’s never been a better time to give your smile a makeover with cosmetic dentistry. No matter if have discoloured, broken, crooked, missing or damaged teeth, thanks to modern cosmetic dentistry, these problems can all be a thing of the past.

However, the realms of cosmetic dentistry have now expanded outside the mouth and your situation may mean that additional or less dental work needs to be performed to perfect your smile.

There are many situations where cosmetic dental options may or may not be suitable for everyone, so it’s important to first understand why you’re seeking cosmetic dentistry in the first place and have a good idea of the underlying conditions that make your smile seem less than satisfactory to you. The next step is to make an appointment with your dentist in order to find out what is most suitable for your situation.

First of All, What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?

The term "cosmetic dentistry" is somewhat of a paradox in itself. In reality, there is not specialization within the dental field of cosmetic dentistry. It’s simply a name we’ve given to a vast majority of dental procedures or treatments that can help you with the aesthetics of your smile.

However, every dentist is a cosmetic dentist in some way or form because modern dental procedures are nearly all considerate of how they impact the smile. In short, there are just many ways to skin a cat!

It’s important to get to know what aspects of cosmetic dentistry your dentist performs, as every practitioner is different.

You should discuss any expectations or options that your dentist is using regularly. There are many different brands of materials, dental prosthetics and applications that your dentist has made a conscious decision to use because they feel it's best for your smile.

For example, there are many brands of teeth whitening options out there. They all aim to get the same result but there are subtle differences that you should at least be partially aware of.

Non-Dental Factors to Consider

Your teeth and smile make up roughly one-third of your face and therefore are influenced by many other aspects of your appearance. Other factors that will have an influence on the perception of your smile include:

  • Facial height – people with long faces often have a narrow jaw and this can have a profound impact on your upper arch that means there may be limited space for your upper teeth.
  • Facial width – your cheek bone width (or upper jawbone) is part of the framework of which your smile is perceived in. Those with a narrow face width may need to consider palatal expansion in order to achieve better face balance and aesthetics. 
  • Lip volume – those with thin or tight lips may show excessive amounts of their teeth when smiling. This is important when treatment planning your cosmetic dentistry.
  • Smile line – related to your lip volume, people whose lips don’t cover their teeth or lift too highly similarly need to be considered.
  • Age – generally our age will impact the tenseness of our lips and cheeks. As we age more of our bottom teeth begin to show and the height of the face generally decreases. It’s important to reach a result that both suits your age and addresses the goals that you want out of your smile. 
  • Skin and lip color – You may not realise it but simply getting a tan or wearing a different lipstick will have a profound teeth whitening effect on your smile. The contrast will give the impression that your teeth are shades lighter. When considering desired tooth color and shade options these factors should be all factored in before commencing with any teeth whitening or cosmetic dental options. 
  • Lost or missing teeth – Losing teeth or congenitally missing teeth will have a profound impact on your dental arch.

All of these factors need to be taken into consideration by your dentist before a cosmetic dental treatment can be applied

Non-Dental Considerations

  • Fillers and Dental Botox – More and more dentists are providing filler and botox options to help improve aspects of your face and smile that long way to improving your smile. 
  • Tanning – Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a spray tan, lowering the shade of your skin will give the perception that your teeth are much whiter.
  • Makeup and lipstick color consultation – by getting a professional consult with a makeup artist you may be able to optimize your makeup and lipstick shade to get the best perception of the whiteness of your smile.

Dental Options to Improve Facial Aesthetics

  • Orthodontics – adult orthodontics include expand your dental arch such as palatal expansion, orthotropics, myofunctional orthodontics, and conventional braces can all have a profound impact on the shape and appearance of your face and may dramatically improve your options and results for cosmetic dentistry. For example crowded teeth often need the required space to first be established before a dentist can perform any treatments that will shift the appearance of the teeth themselves.
  • Periodontal treatment and crown lengthening – For gummy smiles or teeth that appear short in length, crown lengthening is a gum surgery procedure that can help to completely change the shape of the smile through longer teeth. Either performed by your dentist or a specialist, this technique may be required if your expectation of an attractive smile is outside the boundaries of the amount of teeth shown due to lips or tooth structure. 

Dental Factors That Relate to Cosmetic Dentistry

Now for the dental procedures that can reconstruct or drastically improve the aesthetics of your smile. The way we perceive our smile is often a very personal opinion and it’s important to establish with your dentist what your expectations are. They will be able to inform you whether what you’re saying can be improved simply by dental work or whether you may need to consider other options as well.

Situations where cosmetic dentistry may improve your smile include congenital conditions or problems with our teeth that occurred when you were either in the womb or a young child. These can inhibit the development of tooth enamel and can be caused by:

5 Common Cosmetic Dental Options

Cosmetic Dentistry Option #1 – Teeth Whitening

Often our primary complaint of our teeth is that they’re not white enough. This may result in you feeling self-conscious when you smile. Teeth bleaching or teeth whitening is one option to help whiten and brighten your teeth, allowing you to smile with confidence.

Your dentist will first need to assess the condition of your teeth and take into account your dental history before selecting an appropriate treatment for you. They will investigate the source of the staining and provide you with advice and guidance on avoiding it in future.

Teeth whitening can be performed by your dentist in the dental chair (in-chair whitening) or with take-home kits prescribed by your dentist.

Cosmetic Dentistry Option #2 – Dental Veneers

If your teeth are in good, general condition, but you don’t like the appearance of your teeth, dental veneers can create a profoundly new smile.

You may know a veneer as a thin layer that is bonded to another surface – this is exactly what happens when you have a dental veneer.  Dental veneers are facings that sit on the outer layer of the tooth. 

Two types of dental veneers are either made directly in the dental chair with composite resin and the dentist will shape the teeth with his own instruments. Or they will prepare the teeth and send the impression off to a dental laboratory to have porcelain veneers that they will then bond to your teeth at the next appointment

Cosmetic Dentistry Option #3 – Crowns

Dental crowns (also known as ‘caps’) are full coverage caps that cement over your tooth. Crowns are typically used on damaged, broken or root canal treated teeth but can also be used to cover misaligned or badly discoloured teeth.

Crowns can last for up to 15 years and are usually made from gold, porcelain or ceramic. They can be made to match your natural teeth, or made whiter to whiten your smile.

Advances in all-ceramic (porcelain) crowns now gives patients and dentists options in which type of material to use for different cosmetic dental options.

The first type of all-ceramic crown is:

  • Emax crown – these are generally comprised of a lithium disilicate and zirconium oxide. They are a state of the art technology and advantages include excellent dental aesthetics, good strength and durability and biocompatibility with low damage to adjacent teeth
  • Porcelain fused to zirconia (PFZ) crown - These crowns utilize a zirconia base with a porcelain casing. Zirconia is commonly used in medical devices such as artificial joints and is incredibly durable. They also have an excellent appearance and compatibility with the oral tissues.

Cosmetic Dentistry Option #5 – Bridges

If you’re missing one or more teeth, a bridge can help to fill the gap. Bridge options are much the same as dental crowns the difference is that you’re having a crown on either side of the missing tooth that allows the dentist to design your missing tooth with the laboratory.

Spanning the space of the missing teeth, bridges are bonded to the two teeth either side of the gap, and a false tooth (called a ‘pontic’) is secured to the bridge, which replaces the missing tooth.

Cosmetic Dentistry Option #5 – Dental Implants

A dental implant is a permanent ‘artificial tooth’ which can be used to replace lost or missing teeth.

Implants are surgically secured, with a fixture or screw that is implanted into the jawbone. The ‘tooth’ is then screwed or cemented onto the fixture in the jaw.

An advantage of implants is that it does not require any other teeth to be adjusted in the process.

Bottom Line

Cosmetic dentistry options are now more numerous than ever.

As you will now appreciate, there are many factors to consider when planning for cosmetic dentistry and sometimes you may not need dental treatment specifically.

Always talk to your dentist about all the options and be clear with what you wish to achieve out of your smile!

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