Dental Health Articles
Confusion in Cosmetic Dentistry
By Nick K. Nguyen, DDS, APC
In this day and age of mass marketing and advertising efforts by large companies and dentists on cosmetic dentistry, how do you know where to begin your search and what is the best way to go? Should you try traditional orthodontics or Invisalign™ (clear, removable aligners)? Should you whiten your teeth or have veneers placed instead? If you choose to have veneers placed, what type should you select? Would Lumineers™, Da Vinci™, or MAC™ veneers work for you? What about bonding? When does a tooth need a crown instead? What type of crown is most aesthetic? Or would using multiple cosmetic procedures yield a better outcome?
Everyone presents with different cosmetic concerns. The correct treatment plan begins with understanding your own cosmetic challenges. What is it about your smile that you do not like? Is it the color, open spaces, or overlapping teeth? Is it chipped, worn teeth? Are your teeth too small or too big? Do you have a gummy smile or a protruding jaw? Is it all of the above? Once you have a clear idea of what you do not like about your smile, the next step is to understand what can be accomplished with each of the cosmetic procedures. Although the number of different procedures available is very extensive and often confusing, only a couple of the more common procedures will be discussed in this article due to limited space.
Orthodontics, whether traditional or Invisalign™, is one procedure that can help reposition misaligned teeth. It can close spaces, correct teeth overlap, reposition the smile line and gum levels, and even help with an uncomfortable bite. Treatment time can be as little as a few months to a couple of years depending on the amount of tooth movement required. The key advantage to moving teeth, regardless of whether or not veneers or any other cosmetic procedure is to be performed following orthodontics, is that correctly positioned teeth are usually healthier in the long run. People with straight teeth generally have healthier mouths and fewer cavities because their teeth are easier to clean and maintain.
Another procedure is the placement of veneers, which are thin laminates bonded over the visible side of teeth to correct color, shape, length, and help with minor positioning. Veneers are usually made out of resin or porcelain. It should also be noted that there are several different types of porcelain. For example, the well known Lumineer™ veneer is made from a unique patented formulation of porcelain, whereas the Da Vinci™ and the MAC™ veneer uses a different formulation of porcelain. The aesthetics, thickness, and strength of the final restoration depend on the type of porcelain used and the way that it is made. A veneer can by made using a layering technique or a wax and cast technique. There are some types of porcelains that are very strong but not as aesthetic, while some are just the opposite.
Some patients may require only one type of procedure, while others may require multiple procedures for optimal results. Due to the extensive possible treatment options and combinations, it is highly recommended that you seek the guidance from a knowledgeable cosmetic dentist about all of these procedures to help you understand every one of your options and alternatives.
Dr. Nick Nguyen is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).