Though many people think of dentistry as being primarily concerned with cleaning patients' teeth and filling cavities, the broader field of dental care is actually quite diverse. Cosmetic dentistry is a distinct area of expertise related specifically to the appearance of teeth and oral tissues. Though cosmetic concerns are sometimes dismissed as less important to a patient's overall care, cosmetic dentistry actually offers many valuable benefits to people seeking particular care outcomes. Understanding the nature of cosmetic dentistry and its numerous offerings will help dental patients make more informed decisions about the care they receive over the course of their life.
Appearance and Health
The appearance of teeth is actually a key indicator of how healthy they are. Teeth that are discolored, damaged, or that have irregularly worn surfaces require interventions to help restore health. As the health of the tooth improves, so does its appearance. In this sense, most forms of dentistry could be thought of as cosmetic. That said, there are a range of services specifically aimed at improving the appearance of teeth that are otherwise healthy or already being treated by a provider.
Cosmetic procedures often have the added benefits of improving a patient's ability to eat and speak and even relieving pain. For instance, though bridgework and dental implants may serve the cosmetic function of restoring lost teeth, the new teeth are also entirely functional and will help the patient enjoy their favorite foods and minimize pain that came from any injury sites associated with the missing teeth.
Cosmetic Procedures and Technologies
Dentists specializing in cosmetic techniques and clinics that offer cosmetic dentistry offer a wide range of services, including:
- The application of crowns and caps
- Tooth bleaching and whitening
- The application of porcelain or composite resin veneers
- Dental implant placement
- Tooth reshaping and contouring
- The creation of dental bridges to restore missing teeth
- Reshaping and improving the gum line
Two of the most important materials used in cosmetic dentistry are composite resin and dental porcelain. These materials have been used successfully for many decades and have proven to be highly reliable and very durable. Patients are frequently given the option of porcelain or resin when having veneers, bridgework, or implants created.
Dental porcelain mimics the look and feel of natural teeth very well. It has the same shiny, white appearance. Porcelain is often preferred for its appearance, though it can be more expensive than composite resin. Prosthetics, veneers, and other elements made from dental porcelain must also be crafted by technicians in a laboratory after a mold has been made of the patient's mouth. Porcelain thus can take longer to reach the patient and may require extra visits for the creation of a mold and for the final fitting.
Composite resin is also tooth colored though some people do not find its appearance as pleasing as porcelain. It is very durable and can be shaped by the dentist directly serving the patient or by technicians. Because there are fewer steps involved, procedures making use of composite resin are sometimes more affordable.
Discover More About Cosmetic Dentistry
The best way to learn about different cosmetic dentistry procedures and how they can benefit you is to speak with your dentist.
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