7 Ways to Cosmetically Enhance Your Smile
Cosmetic Dentistry

7 Ways to Cosmetically Enhance Your Smile

Posted on:

Is there something you want to change about your smile? Talking to your dentist will help you understand and weigh up your options.

5 minute read

Cosmetic dental treatments such as teeth whitening and veneers are more popular than ever in Australia. If you're considering cosmetic treatments to change aspects of your smile that you're not happy with, your first stop should be the dentist.

Dentists are the only registered professionals who are fully qualified to provide treatments and advice related to your teeth. They can recommend the best options to help you make the changes you want and will provide you with realistic expectations of what can be achieved.

Read our overview of cosmetic dentistry treatments to learn what they involve and if they could be right for you.

 

What is cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry covers dental treatments that improve the appearance of your smile. These may be entirely cosmetic – as in the case of teeth whitening treatments – or they may also have functional benefits, such as correcting issues with chewing or speech, making it easier to clean your teeth or lowering your oral health risks.

Cosmetic dental treatments can address a wide range of aesthetic concerns, from covering up stains and discolouration to altering a tooth's shape, size or alignment, and multiple treatments may be combined for a complete smile makeover that’s tailored to your specific goals. Some of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments in Australia today are:

  1. Tooth bonding
  2. Veneers
  3. Teeth whitening
  4. Teeth straightening
  5. White fillings
  6. Crowns
  7. Tooth replacement

 

1. Tooth bonding

If your teeth only have minor flaws, these could be treated in a single appointment using tooth bonding. Tooth bonding involves very little preparation and allows you to walk in and then walk out with a new smile. Treatment involves applying a composite resin to the tooth to fill in minor cracks or gaps, build up small or chipped teeth or cover up stains.

Your dentist will carefully apply the resin to your teeth and polish it after curing to leave a smooth and even finish. A bonded tooth can look and feel just like a natural tooth, but can be prone to more damage and stains like many other dental restorations, so your dentist may recommend avoiding certain foods.

 

2. Veneers

If you want to cover up larger imperfections with teeth, your dentist may discuss veneers. Veneers are a thin layer of porcelain or composite resin that replace the front surfaces of teeth to achieve the aesthetic changes you want – whether that's whitening, masking chips or cracks, closing gaps or minor straightening.

  • Composite veneers are applied directly to teeth and may be completed in a single visit.
  • Porcelain veneers are designed in a dental lab based on impressions taken of the teeth before being bonded into place. This may involve two or more appointments.

Porcelain veneers generally cost more than composite, but they have a number of advantages. Porcelain ceramic is a closer match to natural tooth enamel in appearance and strength, so your veneers should last for longer. You’ll still be advised to avoid hard foods and activities that can damage veneers.

While composite veneers might not require any tooth preparation, porcelain veneers will. This is where a thin layer of enamel (as little as 0.5mm - 0.7mm) is removed to allow veneers to be bonded in place.

 

3. Teeth whitening

The most popular cosmetic dentistry treatment in Australia, teeth whitening involves the careful application of bleaching gels to teeth. The active compounds in these gels react with pigments left on the teeth by food, drink and other sources to remove discolouration and whiten your smile by up to several shades.

Whitening treatments may be provided by dentists or done in your own home using a dentist-prescribed take-home kit.

  • Professional teeth whitening can offer instant and more reliable results, as only dentists are permitted to use a concentration higher than 6% hydrogen peroxide (the active bleaching agent in whitening gel).
  • Home teeth whitening kits involve applying a daily treatment over 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the amount of whitening desired. Results are comparable to in-chair treatment when provided under the supervision of a dentist.

If you prefer to whiten your teeth at home, we still recommend seeing a dentist first. We will examine your teeth to tell you whether you're eligible for whitening, clean and scale your teeth to remove surface stains and provide you with a whitening kit with custom-fitted trays that are specifically designed for your mouth. This helps to improve results and lowers the risk of the gel coming into contact with your gums or being swallowed, which may be a risk with over-the-counter whitening products.

Another reason to see a dentist (one that often gets overlooked) is that teeth whitening isn't suitable for everyone. Whitening treatment can be effective at removing stains left on teeth by food and drink, nicotine and natural ageing, but it won't work on teeth that have been discoloured by trauma, previous dental treatments such as a root canal, medication side effects or other reasons. In these cases, your dentist can recommend alternatives such as bonding or veneers.

Teeth whitening also doesn't work on fillings or other dental restorations, so your dentist may recommend having any of these replaced to match your new whiter smile. Whitening treatments also require topping up and repeat treatments to maintain whiteness.

 

4. Teeth straightening

Crooked or protruding teeth can affect how your smile looks, but in many cases they're more than a cosmetic issue. If your teeth and jaws are not properly aligned, this may lead to problems with eating or speech, teeth grinding and jaw pain, or make it harder to brush and floss your teeth, increasing your risk of oral health problems.

If you want to straighten your teeth to help with any of these issues or others, your dentist can carry out an orthodontic assessment to determine what teeth straightening treatments could help you. Contrary to what some people think, orthodontic treatment isn't only for teenagers. Many adults now choose to straighten their teeth thanks to the development of more discreet treatments.

  • Braces help correct a wide range of orthodontic problems. Metal braces are recommended for more severe alignment issues, while moderate correction may be achieved using tooth-coloured ceramic braces.
  • Removable clear aligners can be an alternative to braces for minor to moderate teeth straightening. Invisalign® clear aligners are designed to be virtually invisible and fit comfortably over the teeth. Unlike fixed braces, aligners can be taken out when you need to eat and clean your teeth.

Teeth straightening with braces or aligners are an ongoing commitment. You will need to visit your dentist every few weeks so they can check your progress and make adjustments to help you achieve a straighter smile. Even after treatment ends and your braces or aligners come out, you’ll be recommended to wear a retainer to keep teeth from shifting.

 

5. White fillings

White fillings made from composite resin are used by dentists to repair minor tooth damage caused by decay or injury. Once a filling is placed, the tooth's surface will be smooth and naturally white.

Fillings are mainly used as a corrective treatment, but they can be a cosmetic choice if you decide to replace old metal fillings with white fillings. If there isn't enough structure remaining in the tooth to support a filling, your dentist may discuss other options such as an inlay, onlay or crown.

 

6. Crowns

A crown is a tooth cap that can be bonded over the top of a tooth to restore its strength, shape, alignment or appearance. Crowns are often used to reinforce teeth that have been damaged by decay, accidents or teeth grinding, but they can also be used in cosmetic dentistry to change a tooth's colour, size or shape.

Before a crown can be made, your dentist will first need to remove some enamel from the tooth. They will then take an impression that will be used to design your custom restoration. Crowns may be made from porcelain, metal or a combination of both. How long a crown lasts depends on what material it's made from and how well you look after your oral health.

 

7. Tooth replacement

Replacing missing or severely damaged teeth can help improve your smile, but it's more than just a cosmetic concern. If you've lost one or more teeth, this may cause difficulties with eating or speech and the teeth on either side can shift into the gap over time without support.

If you're considering teeth replacement to restore your smile, your dentist can assess your mouth and recommend the most suitable treatment option for you:

  • Full or partial dentures can replace a single tooth, several teeth or all of your teeth. Dentures are designed by experienced prosthetists to feel comfortable in your mouth and they may be supported by suction, clasps or dental implants.
  • Dental bridges fill gaps with one or more prosthetic teeth. A bridge may be made from porcelain or zirconia and is supported by crowns or clasps attached to adjacent healthy teeth.
  • Dental implants are surgically placed in the jaw to be the foundation for one or more prosthetic teeth. Dental implants cost more than other treatment options, but can be a longer term solution for replacing teeth and also support your jaw bone and jaw structure.

 

What happens at your cosmetic consultation?

If you're thinking about a cosmetic treatment to enhance your smile, book a consultation with one of our dentists so they can understand your goals and recommend suitable treatments to help you achieve them. They will make sure you have all the information you need, including any risks, costs and other factors so you can make informed decisions.

Our dentists at Mount Lawley Dental have experience providing a wide range of general and cosmetic dental services using the latest systems to improve patient comfort and minimise risks. Call our team today on (08) 9227 8777 or book online to book a consultation for teeth whitening or other cosmetic dentistry in Mount Lawley, Highgate, North Perth and Inglewood.

 

References

  1. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cosmetic-dentistry

Invisalign® aligners are a registered medical device. Always read the label and follow and instructions for use from your dentist.

Your Local Dentists in Mount Lawley