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What You Need to Know About Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is a booming field and by 2026, the industry is projected to be worth nearly $32 billion. While cosmetic dentistry often isn’t necessary for maintaining oral health, improving dental appearance can often benefit patients emotionally. This can include improving self-image, self-esteem, and overall confidence. However, many people are confused about what exactly cosmetic density is and everything that it entails. To help you understand this field and many of the procedures it offers, here is what you need to know.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry differs from other types of dentistry in that it focuses on improving and enhancing oral aesthetics. This means that the procedures don’t necessarily improve the health of the patient so much as they improve the way the patient feels about their mouths. For instance, teeth that are misaligned or discolored aren’t necessarily medically dangerous. However, improving them can help boost the emotional health of the patient by giving them back confidence in their smile.

One important thing to keep in mind is that because these procedures often have little to no medical necessity, many insurances view them as electives and won’t cover the costs. However, the exact lines can blur, especially if work is needed because of damage from an accident. It’s worth checking with your insurance company beforehand to see what they’ll cover before heading into your dentist’s office.

How Do Cosmetic Dentists Differ from Standard Dentists?

Although cosmetic dentistry is a fast-growing industry, currently, the American Dental Association doesn’t recognize it as a specialty. This means that most universities don’t offer a specific program geared towards cosmetic procedures. Because of this, prospective cosmetic dentists receive much of the same training that your standard family practitioner does. This includes learning about orthodontics, oral medicine, dental history, pain management, and cosmetics. Due to this training, a cosmetic dentist is able to handle all of the same issues a standard practitioner would, only they may choose to personally focus and offer more cosmetic treatments.

Reasons People Seek Out Cosmetic Dentists

People seek cosmetic procedures for a variety of reasons including misaligned teeth, discolorations, missing teeth, decay, and damage. All of these are factors that can lead not only to difficulty speaking or eating but also to problems with self-esteem and confidence. In a 2015 survey, the American Dental Association reported that around 23% of adults pass on social activities because they feel insecure about their smiles. Similarly, 33% of young adults reported that they were afraid to smile because they felt poorly about their teeth and mouth. All of this can lead to a poorer quality of life if not treated appropriately.

Types of Cosmetic Dentistry

There are many different cosmetic dentistry procedures. Some of the most well-known include the following.

  1. Teeth Whitening: Professional teeth whitening is by and large one of the easiest and fastest ways to improve the appearance of your smile. It is also much more reliable than at-home alternatives. Teeth change color naturally over time due to food, drink, tobacco use, age, and medications. And, while it may be normal, having dull or stained teeth can do a number on your self-confidence. To combat this, cosmetic dentists offer quick and easy whitening treatments which can improve the look of aging teeth. However, you should always check with your dentist before insisting on a whitening treatment as it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. For instance, it won’t whiten crowns and veneers, and brown stains may not lighten as well as yellow.
  2. Veneers: A dental veneer is a thin porcelain shell that covers the surface of the tooth. For this procedure, a cosmetic dentist will remove about a half-millimeter of natural enamel before bonding the veneer to the surface. This can change the color, size, length, and shape. Veneers are a great solution for those struggling with misshapen or discolored teeth that whitening otherwise can’t fix. Often called “Hollywood teeth”, veneers can completely transform your smile into something beauteous.
  3. Bonding: A bit similar to veneers is dental bonding. With this procedure a cosmetic dentist fashions a putty-like resin on the teeth which is then hardened using an ultraviolet light that bonds it to the tooth. Once it is hardened, it can be polished and shaped by the dentist to improve the appearance of the teeth. This treatment is useful for fixing chipped, cracked, misshapen, or decayed teeth. Bonding is a good alternative to other options such as amalgam or silver fillings.
  4. Dental Crowns: Most people have heard about dental crowns before but most don’t know that they’re technically a cosmetic procedure. A crown is a cap that is placed over the entirety of a tooth that has been damaged or decayed. This can restore its shape, size, and appearance without needing a full replacement. Crowns can help prevent weak teeth from breaking and they can also help cover misshapen or discolored teeth.
  5. Inlays and Onlays: Inlays and onlays, also known as indirect fillings, are often used to fill in decayed or damaged teeth. As opposed to fillings that are molded in place during your visit to the dentist’s office, these are made in a laboratory and then bonded to your teeth by your dentist. An inlay consists of a material that is bonded within the center of a tooth while an onlay consists of a filling that includes one or more points of the tooth or otherwise covers the entirety of the surface. Both are capable of preserving as much of the healthy tooth as possible, making them a good alternative to crowns.
  6. Shaping: Dental shaping, also known as enamel shaping, is similar to veneers in that it involves the cosmetic dentist removing some of a tooth’s enamel to reshape it. However, that is where the similarities end. This procedure is used to produce immediate results and oftentimes isn’t painful.
  7. Teeth Straightening: Often considered a cosmetic treatment, teeth straightening for aesthetic purposes has become increasingly popular since the release of clear options such as Invisalign. With clear aligners, more and more adults are opting to straighten their teeth than ever before. While traditional braces are still commonplace, especially among younger patients, the ease of slip-on aligners has caused a noticeable uptick in cosmetic straightening.
  8. Implants: Dental implants are probably one of the fastest-growing and most popular cosmetic dentistry options available. Implants are replacement teeth rooted into the bone socket to replace a missing tooth. As the bone heals, it grows around the implant post securing it into place and making it as sturdy as a natural root. While this is one of the most expensive cosmetic dentistry procedures, it can also be one of the longest-lasting options you can choose.

A Smile You Can Be Proud Of

At its heart, cosmetic dentistry is about making you feel more confident and secure in your smile. Because teeth play such a huge role in appearances, many people end up distancing themselves and opting out of social events due to bad teeth. This can cause a decrease in quality of life and further increase feelings of self-loathing and lowered esteem.

If you’ve been struggling with your teeth bringing you down, consider speaking with a cosmetic dentist about your options. Many offer payment plans to help make the treatments more accessible to everyone. Consider your options and start the journey towards taking back control of your smile today.

About Us

Top rated dentists at Comfort Smiles Dentistry practice every form of dentistry, from general dentistry to oral surgery. The cosmetic dentists on staff are some of the most respected and sought-after in the field. When you want the best care and the best results in New Orleans make an appointment to visit the New Orleans dental specialists.

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