Written by Dr Jeffrey M Kestenberg MDSc LDS FRACDS , Dentist
I’m a leader every day. That might seem a bit weird to say but as a parent, I’m a role model for my children, for my family and as an employer for my staff. By default, I’m in a similar position with my patients. Subconsciously, I set an example and have gained respect from all those around me. But it’s not just my behaviour or position, it’s my appearance and self-confidence which are so important in our society.
A Beautiful Smile
As dentists we play a role in improving our patients’ appearance and self-confidence through smile enhancement. We can all reap the rewards from a beautiful smile.
Now I need to clarify one point before this discussion goes any further. Because I’m a dentist, the Dental Board of Australia forbids me from using the terms ‘cosmetic dentistry’ or ‘cosmetic dentist’ in this article. So we’ll call it ‘ smile enhancement’ but we all know what I mean. I think it’s a crazy rule but I pick my battles and this one’s not worth fighting over.
Restoring your smile to the smile which you’ve always wanted and giving you the self-confidence which you deserve is what many dentists love to do. There are many treatment options and combinations of treatments which are available.
If you’re interested in improving your smile, your dentist should offer an initial consultation to discuss your needs, examine your teeth, and take x-rays of your teeth to ensure you will receive the right treatments for your specific needs and create a specific, individualised plan
Any proposed treatment takes careful consideration and thought over whether any type of dentistry is right for you. You need to be confident that the treatment you want is right for you and will give the desired results. This holds true for the various treatments to improve the appearance of your teeth and smile. Be sure to discuss the costs, advantages, disadvantages, alternatives, side effects and prognosis of any treatment which you may be considering.
The days of those old silver mercury fillings are well and truly behind us. White fillings are made of a highly durable composite filling material, that is strong and highly aesthetic. It is basically a mixture of glass and plastic compounds. Giving a much more natural look than traditional silver-mercury amalgam fillings, white fillings are shaped to look like a natural tooth and result in a great overall appearance and also restore the function of the tooth. Old existing amalgam (silver/black) fillings can be replaced with white fillings if you wish to do so.
Matching to the natural shade of your teeth or making the teeth permanently whiter, porcelain veneers are a popular option and can improve the look of your smile dramatically. They are individualized covers that are placed over the outer aspect of the teeth. It is a similar concept to an acrylic nail that is placed over your own fingernails. Highly skilled technicians make the customized veneers to incorporate a natural translucency, or character lines and irregularities so that a more natural look can be achieved for you. If you would like whiter veneers you may also need a tooth whitening procedure first.
Porcelain White Crowns
A crown is a cover or a cap that covers the whole of the tooth above and sometimes slightly below the gum line. Porcelain white crowns can help achieve a more natural look to match the rest of your teeth if you have any existing cracked or discoloured teeth. For maximum strength and to ensure this looks as natural as possible a variety of ceramic materials such as lithium disilicate, porcelain-fused-to-metal and zirconia can be used.
If your main issue is that your teeth are crooked or crowded, orthodontic treatment may be the right treatment for you. Even within the speciality of orthodontics there are options for a dental plate which is removable, braces (metal or tooth coloured) or clear aligners to help straighten your teeth. These can be dependent on different factors that will be checked during your initial consultation.
Sometimes a removable plate is all that it required. Your dentist will help choose the most suitable option depending on how much tooth movement is required.
Orthodontic treatment can be provided by a specialist orthodontist or a general dentist who has had additional training in orthodontics.
One of the most requested and performed cosmetic treatments for anyone looking to achieve that aesthetically pleasing smile is teeth whitening. This treatment will brighten up your smile significantly, give you self-confidence and give you a younger & healthier appearance in a short treatment time.
Dentists commonly offer three different types of teeth whitening including home whitening trays worn during the day, home whitening trays worn while you sleep at night and in-chair whitening which is undertaken in one visit in a dentist’s clinic.
The trays look like thin, clear mouthguards which fit snugly over the teeth. A whitening gel that contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active ingredient is squirted into the mouthguard which is then placed over the teeth. The trays are usually used for several weeks before the desired whitening result is achieved.
The in-office whitening system uses a stronger version of a gel with the same active ingredient. Once the gel is placed on the teeth, it is left in place for 15-30 minutes and in some systems, filtered light is used to activate the treatment gel on the teeth. The result with this type of whitening system is seen immediately.
Sometimes Things Aren’t So Simple
Some patients may require more complex treatment plans and it’s important that functionality (the way our teeth bite and chew and the way we speak) needs to be retained above just a beautiful appearance.
Some dentists offer a design service where a ‘mock-up of your smile is digitally created so that you can see what the end result can look like before the actual treatment has commenced.
The more complex treatments are often provided by specialists or more experienced dentists. Your dentist can refer you to a specialist if required.
A beautiful smile for the rest of your life is such a confidence booster and is something that everyone can have. Not only will you benefit but those around you will benefit too.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner