Cosmetic dentistry covers a wide range of dental issues, from subtle changes in the spacing between teeth to a major repair of a single tooth. Often, there is more than one approach that a dentist can offer, especially when it comes to teeth that discoloured, chipped, misshapen, or missing altogether.
Bleaching is a common dental practice that whitens teeth and removes stains. Discolouration of teeth occurs in the enamel and can have a number of causes, including medication, coffee, tea, cigarettes, or as a hereditary condition, or simply as part of the ageing process. The first step in the bleaching process is the creation of a custom mouthpiece, which ensures that the correct amount of whitening solution is administered and that all of the teeth are properly exposed. These days, bleaching can be undertaken at home, though it usually takes longer to have an effect than having the treatment performed by your dentist.
Bonding is a tooth-coloured material that is used to fill in gaps in the teeth or to change the colour of teeth. Bonding requires a single application and often lasts for several years, though it can be chipped or stained more easily than other types of restoration. Bonding can be used to fill small cavities, to close the spaces between teeth, or to change the surface colour or shape of a tooth.
A veneer is a thin piece of plastic or porcelain that covers front teeth to change the colour or shape of teeth. Veneers are often used for teeth that are uneven, chipped, discoloured, crooked, or oddly shaped. Veneers are commonly used in combination with bonding and often as an alternative to crowns, which can be more expensive. Typically, veneers last longer and retain their colour better than bonding.
Crowns, or caps, are used to address problems of shape and appearance; usually sitting on top of a damaged, distorted, or decayed tooth. Crowns last much longer than other kinds of cosmetic dentistry, though they are often more expensive and take longer to fit.
Contouring and Reshaping
For chipped, crooked, overlaying, or oddly shaped teeth, dentists might also recommend contouring and reshaping. Such treatments change the length, shape, or position of teeth, while contouring is often used to address small problems with bite or to adjust smile, for example, while bonding is often combined with reshaping. Most contouring and reshaping can be completed in a single session.