“A smile is like an instant facelift and an instant mood lifter.” – Christie Brinkley
Do you catch yourself minimizing your smile to hide your teeth? If so, you're not alone. Imperfect or bad teeth can erode confidence and make you self-conscious. But there are alternatives. Cosmetic dentistry can do wonders to correct flaws and provide you the self-confidence to share your smile with the world.
That's important because smiling provides many benefits. Having the confidence to smile can boost your overall self-esteem. In turn, self-esteem positively affects other areas of your life from social interactions to career. Smiling is also good for your emotional health because it releases endorphins, cortisol, dopamine, and serotonin, the neurotransmitters associated with feeling good. Smiling sends positive messages to others as well, so it's good for relationships too.
Also, smiling improves physical health because the chemical changes reduce pain, stress, and blood pressure and strengthen your immune system.
Whether the issue with your teeth is their color, size, shape, position, or alignment, it can likely be corrected. People most commonly seek cosmetic dentistry for tooth chips, cracks, fillings, crowding, gaps, bite, gums, and crooked or missing teeth. The array of treatment options for these and other cosmetic issues includes whitening, bonding, veneers, crowns, bridges, implants, inlays, onlays, shaping, and orthodontics. With so many options, there's likely an esthetic dentistry solution right for you.
7 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A COSMETIC DENTIST
Consider the following factors when selecting a cosmetic dentist or orthodontist.
Basic cosmetic dentistry doesn't require specialized training, so any licensed dentist can advertise and provide those services. Still, a dentist with specialized training can help ensure you achieve optimum results. So ask providers about their continuing education and whether their team has specialized training.
Also, make sure the dentist understands occlusion, or chewing function. Some cosmetic changes can affect your occlusion. So this is crucial to ensure changes to your teeth won't pose a risk to your other teeth or the new work done to your teeth.
Ask if the dentist is a member of The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), and preferably, accredited by it.
Does the cosmetic dentist have before-and-after photos of patients he or she has treated? Pictures used in the practice's advertising might be stock photos. So ask to see the dentist's portfolio.
Also, investigate the dentist's reputation. Check online reviews, but make sure they're on a website that doesn't allow providers to alter (remove) negative reviews. Coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends might also be able to make a good recommendation.
The specific technology necessary for treatment depends on the procedure. Still, even if a particular technology isn't required, the availability of advanced technology may indicate how serious a cosmetic dentist is about providing patients the best results. Intraoral cameras, digital X-rays, dental lasers, and chairside monitors are just a few advanced technologies cosmetic dentists often have at their disposal.
Ask about wax-ups, mock-ups, digital imaging, and smile previews. Cosmetic dentists use these tools to create a template to ensure patients achieve their desired results. These tools also provide patients the opportunity to see how their smile will look after crowns, restorations, or porcelain veneers. Viewing a preview of what your smile will look like post-treatment will help ensure your satisfaction with the final results and provide you the opportunity to request adjustments.
Before treatment, your dentist should make an impression of your teeth to create a stone model. Your face, smile, and teeth will also be photographed. The dentist will then use these to demonstrate different treatment options with wax models.
Some dentists use digital imaging software as well. But digital imaging isn't as detailed as mock-ups and can be misleading. So look for a dentist that offers intraoral mock-ups for a more accurate image of the results you can expect.
A detail often overlooked by patients is the quality of the materials used in their treatment. Inferior materials can affect not only your results but how well the materials hold up. So ask about the quality of the materials that'll be used. Also, if you're considering crowns or veneers, ask if the dental ceramist is accredited by the AACD.
Ask whether the treatment you're seeking is likely to cause pain. If so, find out what type of pain management the dentist uses or recommends for the procedure. The following are the most common forms of pain management for cosmetic dentistry.
For mild discomfort, analgesics, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may be recommended.
If your procedure is more invasive, your dentist may want to numb your mouth or an area of your mouth with anesthetics such as lidocaine or Novocain. These can be applied topically, injected, or swallowed.
Sedatives may also be used to help you relax. These include nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, as well as deep sedation, conscious sedation, inhalation sedation, or intravenous sedation.
Ask for a written quote with a breakdown of the costs as well as the payment options available.
Dental insurance may cover some cosmetic dental treatments if the procedures aren't solely for esthetic purposes. Even then, such procedures are rarely covered at 100%. Submit a pre-determination request to your insurance company to find out how much, if any, is covered. Most cosmetic dentistry practices also accept major credit cards.
Finally, don't overlook conveniences such as distance and location. Make sure the dental practice hours fit your schedule. Also, find out how many appointments it will take to complete your treatment and how long the appointments will take.