Cosmetic dentistry is an important part of the dental field and one that many people enthusiastically engage as it can significantly improve one’s appearance and self-esteem. However, as useful and powerful as it can be, there are still certain things that a patient should know before spending time and money on such procedures. Below are some of the most common questions that I, working as a dentist in Spring, TX, see asked in our office in our office relating to cosmetic dentistry.
What exactly is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on improving the appearance of teeth so that they look better. Often times there are no structural or health necessities, so the procedure is strictly cosmetic in nature and therefore considered elective.
What procedures are done in cosmetic dentistry?
Many procedures can fall under the realm or have some relationship with it (such as bleaching or braces), but the most common purely cosmetic dental procedures are based upon veneers and crowns. Veneers, as the name suggests, are thin covers placed over the front surface of a tooth while crowns, on the other hand, are full “caps” placed over the entire body of the tooth. Both veneers and crowns are made of porcelain resembling tooth structure, thereby achieving the desired natural tooth look.
Which is better, veneers or crowns?
From our experience, cosmetic crowns tend to be better in terms of durability and retention. Although veneers are a bit more conservative and require the removal of less tooth structure, the tooth preparation is not all that different and still require the removal of most of the exterior surface of a tooth. But because veneers do not cover the whole tooth, they tend to ‘pop off’ easier, particularly in patients who grind their teeth at night. For this reason of retention, we recommend crowns over veneers for long term stability.
Will the crowns blend in and look right with my natural teeth?
Yes, in our office we make sure that the crowns blend in with the patients natural teeth by doing “custom shading” whereby we have a professional lab take pictures and use shade guides to mimic the shade of the neighboring teeth. This ensures that the restorations will look perfectly natural and blend right in. We also work closely with the lab to establish the best ratios, symmetry, and shape of the teeth to optimize the aesthetics. There are general principles for this like the Golden Rule but for each person there are always variations and details that need to be individualized.
Will cosmetic dentistry last for a long time? Will it stain with time?
Yes, it can. However, it will require the usual home care we detailed in our hygiene page. Flossing is essential for both crowns and veneers and should be done daily to ensure proper cleanliness and avoid decay around the margins of the restoration. As for staining, porcelain restorations in principle do not stain. However, very slight surface discoloration may appear with time if the patient drinks a lot of coke, tea, coffee, or engages in activities like smoking or wine-drinking. Fortunately, these can be polished and cleaned off most of the time.
Any last words on cosmetic dentistry?
We recommend anyone getting veneers or crowns to also get a night guard to protect the investment. Nighttime grinding is very common in the population and the grinding forces often can either chip/damage the cosmetic restorations or in cases for veneers, pop them right off. Therefore, we heavily recommend folks to consider getting a nightguard to prevent this from happening and ensure a long, enjoyable lifespan for the crowns/veneers.