What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry covers a broad range of services and treatments that dentist can perform whose primary benefit is cosmetic—that is to say, they make your teeth or smile look more attractive. Cosmetic dental services can be simple and fairly non-invasive, like tooth whitening. Other cosmetic dental work can be much more involved and permanent like veneers, in which the surface of each tooth is shaped and a thin porcelain strip is permanently attached to the prepared tooth fronts, allowing a complete transformation of the smile. It’s important to remember that although there is a marked cosmetic improvement, some of the cosmetic dental procedures can also improve the tooth’s daily function and are restorative as well as cosmetic. Also, since the smile is so important to social perception and can greatly influence self-perception and self-esteem, cosmetic dental treatment can have a considerable positive impact on daily life.

Common Cosmetic Dental Problems

  • Discolored teeth
  • Chipped teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Teeth gaps
  • Stained tooth

Common Cosmetic Dental Procedures

  • Tooth whitening
  • Bonding
  • Crowns/inlays/onlays
  • Veneers
  • Tooth/enamel shaping
  • Orthodontics

Common Questions About Cosmetic Dentistry:

Is cosmetic dental care expensive? Will my insurance cover it?

This is a complicated question. The procedures themselves can be expensive, as some of them are quite involved. As for your insurance, it depends on the condition of your mouth and the insurance you have. Insurance is far more likely to cover a procedure that provides a restorative benefit, like a crown, than a purely cosmetic procedure, like tooth whitening. If you have specific cost questions, it’s best to discuss them with your dental care team.

What is the difference between a crown, an inlay, or an onlay?

A crown replaces the entire visible tooth. The natural tooth is shaped and shaved down to a small post, and a custom-made crown is fitted over that post. If the natural tooth is lost, a crown can be fitted over a dental implant to restore chewing function and aesthetic appearance. Inlays and onlays are used when the natural tooth can be preserved. An inlay is fitted completely inside the natural “cup” of the tooth. An onlay covers some of the top tooth surfaces. Like crowns, they are custom made for each person.

Can a cosmetic dentist completely change my smile?

There are specialized cosmetic dentists who perform “smile makeovers”. The results are often dramatic. Your results will depend on where your smile starts and what treatments you are willing to commit to.

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