Aesthetic dentistry, often incorrectly referred to as ‘cosmetic dentistry’, is the term used to describe treatments that change the way your teeth look. There is far more involved than simply changing the appearance of your teeth.
While a cosmetic procedure like tooth whitening is included in aesthetic dentistry, the field is mostly concerned with orthodontic treatment which involves teeth straightening, and restorative dentistry, which involves the insertion of crowns, veneers, and dental implants.
As the name suggests, this treatment is all about lightening stained or discoloured teeth.
While you can buy over-the-counter, use-at-home toothpaste and strips, your dentist is best qualified to determine if you need teeth whitening. They can diagnose the reason for the discolouration and its type, and can then advise the most effective treatment for you.
You may be tempted to go to a shopping centre booth or a beautician to get your teeth whitened, but neither are staffed by suitably qualified personnel. Incorrect use of bleaching agents may cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. DIY bleaching comes with all sorts of risks, and anecdotal treatments such as rubbing strawberries, lemons, or even bicarbonate of soda on your teeth, can do a lot of damage to your teeth and gums for no real whitening gain.
Keep in mind is that crowns, veneers, and fillings don’t change colour when you have your teeth whitened.
Veneers are thin, tooth-coloured porcelain or glass/plastic layers fixed onto the front of your teeth that can be a suitable option if you have teeth with gaps, that are stained, discoloured, broken or chipped, crowded-in or crooked, oddly-shaped or badly-aligned.
If your broken or decayed tooth needs to be rebuilt, it’s possible your dentist will use a crown to do the job. Crowns are generally made from materials such as porcelain, and porcelain/metal combinations. Not only do they make your teeth look more attractive, but they also give them added strength, durability, and stability.
Using corrective items like braces and plates, your dentist or orthodontist (specialist) will line up your teeth within your jaw so you not only look better but may have more efficient use of the affected teeth. Once considered unsightly, braces, a key part of teeth straightening, are now much less noticeable than they were, in some cases being all but invisible.
If you have missing teeth, your dentist may suggest the use of implants to replace them. Not only may your smile improve, but you may also enjoy a better quality of life. Your dentist is best placed to advise on the most suitable option for replacing your teeth and any decision on changing the look and function of your teeth should always be in conjunction with your dentist.
Courtesy Australian Dental Association