In recent years, Smile Makeovers have become more and more common as people realize the benefits of having teeth that are straight and free of stains, chips or other obvious flaws.
It is considered a sign of professionalism to have a good set of teeth and a good looking smile. However, on the flip side to this, if your smile shows flaws in your teeth, it can be a source of embarrassment that adversely affects your self-confidence and self-esteem.
A Smile Makeover can be the answer to your troubles and can help create a professional appearance as well as build self-confidence. There are many different options for a smile makeover and it can consist of several different procedures.
- The most popular cosmetic dental procedures include:
- Bonding for chipped teeth
- Porcelain Veneers
- Teeth Whitening
- Crowns and Bridges
- Replacing metal fillings with tooth-colored fillings
New and Improved Resources for your Smile Makeover
Dentists have been doing cosmetic work for decades. But the materials that were used had serious drawbacks. Early composite resins tended to stain, chip and change color over time. This limited their use. New tooth-colored fillings are much better.
Composites were also not as strong as gold or amalgam fillings, but they have been much improved over the years. Newer composites are long lasting and strong. It is now often possible to “patch” minor flaws, chips or broken teeth with bonding composite resin. This can be smoothed and color-matched to the surrounding teeth.
Dental adhesives also have improved. Older dental materials were held in place by the shape of the tooth. Dentists had to remove part of the tooth to make sure that a filling would stay securely in place. But today’s adhesives are very strong. They can hold a filling or a veneer in place without the need to remove as much of the tooth.
Porcelain veneers cover the entire front of the tooth. They can now be placed with minimal cutting of the enamel.
Smile Makeover Options
There are many cosmetic options, depending on what you need to have done. For example:
Stained or discolored teeth — The enamel that covers the teeth can get stained. The underlying tooth structure (the dentin) also can get yellow over time. Professional, in-office teeth whitening is an option to remove stains and whiten your teeth. Bleaching can also be done at home using molds made by the dentist to fit your mouth.
Chips or rough spots — These can be filled with a tooth-colored material called composite resin. This material can be chosen to match the color of your teeth. Once it’s smoothed and polished, it will look virtually the same as the surrounding area.
Cavities or cracks — Traditional amalgam fillings may be okay in the back of the mouth. However, most people don’t want to reveal a “metal mouth” when they smile. Also, silver amalgam contains mercury, which can be toxic to the nervous system.
An alternative is to use tooth-colored fillings. These fillings are made of a resin material similar to that used to repair chips or cracks. Some white fillings (direct composites) are pressed into the cavity and cured (hardened) with a special high-intensity blue light. Others are made in a laboratory and then cemented in place. These include special composites and porcelain fillings called inlays and onlays. They cover a larger surface area of the tooth.
Uneven teeth — It’s not uncommon for a tooth to be slightly longer or have a different shape than its neighbors. With a procedure called re-contouring, your dentist can reshape the tooth so that it’s a better match.
Gaps between the teeth — Small gaps can be closed by applying composite material between the teeth. This makes each tooth a little wider than before. For large gaps or other surface flaws, our dentists may recommend veneers. Veneers are permanently bonded to the fronts of the teeth. This gives them an entirely new appearance. Veneers are made from ultra-thin shells of porcelain that are matched to your exact tooth color.
Broken or crooked teeth — If a tooth has been badly broken or is structurally weak, you may need a crown. Today, crowns on front teeth are made of tooth-colored porcelain and appear very natural. The crown may be all porcelain, or, more typically, porcelain with metal inside that fits over the tooth. Both types of crowns offer excellent results. Your choice depends on your bite and what you prefer.
Tooth Bonding – The resin comes in a wide variety of shades to match your tooth color. First your dentist applies and shapes the plastic filling material. Then it is exposed to a special high-intensity blue light. It hardens almost instantly. The resin can be sanded, smoothed and polished until it closely matches the natural shade and shape of your tooth.
Smile Makeover Considerations
A smile makeover takes into consideration your facial appearance, skin tone, hair color, teeth (color, width, length, shape and tooth display), gum tissue and lips to develop your ideal smile. Smile makeovers are performed for many reasons and customized according to your unique considerations.
What is it that you like or dislike about your smile or your teeth? Some aspects of your smile that our dentist will review with you and that could be improved with a smile makeover include the following:
Tooth Color: Silver or amalgam dental fillings can be replaced with natural, tooth-colored composite restorations, while teeth whitening can improve the color of stained or dulled teeth. Tooth color and shading are important considerations during the evaluation of and preparation for various procedures, including porcelain veneers, crowns, bridges, composite bonding and dental implants.
When considering the color of your teeth, keep in mind that dark or discolored teeth may suggest an aged mouth. A well-shaped smile comprised of bright, white teeth lends to a youthful appearance. We will help you choose the exact right shade for teeth whitening and veneers with special consideration given to the tone and color of your face and hair. We are skilled at finding the right balance between providing you with a brighter, whiter smile and maintaining a natural tooth color.
Alignment and Spacing: Teeth that are crooked, overlapping or have gaps between them can be straightened and aligned when necessary through orthodontics or Invisalign and improved with veneers.
Missing Teeth: One or more missing teeth can negatively affect the appearance of your smile – as well as affect your bite and increase your risk for tooth decay – making replacement an integral part of oral health and facial esthetics. Missing teeth can be replaced by dental implants, bridges or partial dentures.
Harmony and Balance: Uneven, chipped and cracked teeth can be cosmetically bonded for an improved appearance, and a gummy smile can be re-contoured to help improve the overall look of the smile.
As your cosmetic dentist, we will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan designed to achieve exactly what you want from your makeover. This treatment plan may consist of many cosmetic and functionally restorative procedures, potentially including teeth whitening, composite bonding, veneers, dental crowns, orthodontics (braces) as some of your options.
Esthetic Components of a Smile Makeover
In addition to the color, alignment and balance of your teeth in the esthetic zone of your smile (the section of upper and lower teeth that show when you smile), there are several attributes of your teeth and smile that your cosmetic dentist will evaluate with you when planning your smile makeover. These include:
Tooth Length: Long teeth give a youthful appearance. Aging produces wear and tear that can result in shorter teeth. A smile makeover treatment for shorter teeth may include reshaping and lengthening the two front central teeth with composite bonding or porcelain veneers. Teeth lengthening may also impact your overall facial appearance.
Smile Line: The smile line is an imaginary line that follows the edges of your upper teeth from side to side, which ideally should be the same as the curve of your lower lip when you smile. This standard point of reference for smile makeovers may be used to help determine how long your new teeth should be.
Tooth Proportions: We will examine your teeth to determine if they are in correct proportion with each other. Most people recognize a pleasing smile as one in which the two central front teeth are dominant and have a width-to-length ratio of 4-to-5. This proportion guides the length and width of other teeth in the esthetic zone so that the smile line appears balanced.
Tooth Texture and Characterization: As an artistic dentist we can characterize your crowns or veneers to create a more feminine or a more masculine appearance, in addition to matching the look and feel of natural teeth or those you’ve seen in photographs.
The Life of Your Smile Makeover
Cosmetic dentistry procedures require regular oral hygiene care and may require maintenance over time. For example, teeth whitening must be repeated on occasion in order to maintain brightness. Porcelain veneers may chip or break off and need replacement. Permanent composite bonding may stain and require enhancement or replacement. Dental crowns typically require replacement after 10 to 15 years.
Your ceramist, lab technician and the materials chosen will also impact the longevity of your smile makeover. Our dentist will go over this when discussing the various procedures. To achieve the best results, take special care in selecting your options, keeping longevity in mind.