We all know the secret behind the perfect, gleaming smiles of some of our favourite celebs. Cosmetic dentistry is a big business in our image conscious society. Teeth are one of the first things you notice about someone and first impressions can be lasting impressions.
Cosmetic dentistry has changed over the last two decades says Dr Reiner Koschitzke, (DDS) General Dentist. “Today the focus is on minimally invasive esthetical improvements to generally healthy teeth. So, the most common cosmetic dental treatments are adhesive bonding and contour enhancements following teeth straightening and whitening.”
Losing the colour of your teeth is unfortunately part of the ageing process, they start to change colour from our teenage years. Genetics also play a part in white teeth, so if your parents teeth are yellowing, the chances are yours will too. Whitening can also be used to remove stains caused by food, drink and tobacco without harming the teeth.
Whitening can be done in-office or at home, though some people prefer to bleach their teeth at home because although it may take a little longer, it is more convenient. When performed by your dentist whitening is more intense and gives a faster result, but the intensity is not always suitable for those with sensitive teeth. The at home teatment usually takes between two and four weeks, depending on the desired shade you wish to achieve. While whitening in the dentist may call for one or more 45-minute to one-hour visits to achieve the desired shade. “The big advantage of this technique is that the bleaching can be finalised in an hour. The effect though might not be long lasting and the whole procedure needs to be repeated” says Dr Costa, Specialist Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon at SameDay Dental Clinic.
Both in office and home bleaching techniques are safe methods to whiten teeth and predictable results can be expected says Dr Reiner. Most patients decide on home whitening products with custom made whitening trays which allow for regular and convenient application of whitening gels. However, the most important advantage of home whitening systems is that sensitivities can be controlled more easily by using lower percentage bleaching gels he added.
“With at home whitening the bleaching gel gradually releases oxygen which causes the bleaching effect. Obviously, the results with this method are not instantaneous but they are more long lasting and if needed to be repeated the same bleaching trays can be use again” says Dr Costa.
Tooth bonding, or dental bonding, uses a tooth-coloured resin which is applied to the tooth then hardened using a special light. This bonds the resin to the tooth either to restore it or to improve its appearance.
“The dentist applies the same composite material which is used for the restoration of dental cavities. By bonding the composite material onto the existing teeth, the shape of them can be modified or a diastema (gap) between two teeth can be minimised or completely closed. Bonding is considered to be a conservative way of doing cosmetic dentistry” says Dr Costa, Specialist Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon at SameDay Dental Clinic.
“Dental veneers are cosmetic restorations mostly made from ceramic materials which improve the look of the front teeth. There are two types of veneers available - the traditional veneer technique where a significant reduction of the facial aspect of teeth is required, and so called ‘contact lens veneers’ which are ultra-thin and therefore require only very little, sometimes no preparation of healthy teeth. Traditional veneers are used in cases of single tooth restorations and severely discoloured teeth whereas contact lens veneers are often produced in full smile design treatments” says Dr Reiner.
A veneer is a facing that can be placed on the front of a tooth to improve its shape and colour explains Dr Costa. A veneer can be made either from ceramic material or resin composite material. Usually ceramic materials are better looking but are more difficult to handle. If they break they cannot be repaired in a predictable way and most of the time need to be replaced. Composite veneers are easier to handle, can be easily repaired if they break but do stain more easily compared to ceramic materials he added.
Lumineers are similar to veneers but they are made of a patented technology which enables them to be made very thin so that you do not have to shave off the natural surface of your teeth to create the space for the veneer, says Dr Joy. Since they are very thin they can be applied over the teeth without altering the teeth and create a beautiful smile that you require. However, lumineers are not for every case and need to be diagnosed by dentist who is experienced in lumineers to check if you are a suitable candidate he stated.
Cosmetic straightening and orthodontics address crowded or irregular teeth, however orthodontic treatment is preferred more than cosmetic treatment because the natural teeth are moved into alignment without changing the structure of your teeth. The only disadvantage with orthodontic treatment is that it takes a longer time but results are much healthier in the long term says Dr Joy. For patients who are not willing to wait for orthodontic treatment and want instant results, then they can try cosmetic solutions for a smile makeover, however this has to be assessed and decided by cosmetic dentist because if it involves too much of removal of healthy tooth structure it can cause problems in future. “Also, cosmetic treatments generally cannot correct bite problems and other dental alignments problems and need to be assessed very carefully before doing it” added Dr Joy.
Dr Reiner explains that the term “cosmetic teeth straightening” refers to treatments that use braces and primarily focus on the visibly aesthetic alignment of the teeth. That is why such treatments belong to the repertoire of cosmetic dentists - as often the straightening of teeth is the better alternative to a heavy crown or veneer preparation. Since almost invisible braces such as Invisalign clear aligners are available nowadays, patients decide for brace treatments more often because there are no brackets and wires are required. The pros and cons of cosmetic teeth straightening should be discussed as part of a comprehensive treatment planning.
We spoke to Dr Diego Peydro visiting doctor at the Invisalign Center (www.invisaligncenter.ae) to get the lowdown on the popular treatment Invisalign.
Invisalign is the clear alternative to braces that does not interfere with your lifestyle. “In my 15 years’ experience as an orthodontist I prefer to treat my patients with Invisalign” states Dr Peydro. The fact that that they are removable allows my patients to maintain good oral hygiene whilst with braces you have to make sure that no remaining food gets stuck between the wires and brackets he says.
“The advanced technology and the 3D simulation allows me as a doctor to plan the treatment very efficiently. My patients can see before starting the treatment how their teeth could look like after the treatment” states Dr Peydro.
“The benefits of Invisalign aligners are that they are nearly invisible, comfortable and removable. Whereas the benefits of having straight teeth go beyond confidence. Straight teeth can improve your oral health immensely. Being an experienced doctor, I am confident to treat almost any malocclusion with Invisalign. Technically anything that can be treated with traditional braces can be also treated with Invisalign.”