Rapid advancements are changing the face of cosmetic dentistry
Imagine finally getting the Hollywood smile you’ve been dreaming of—thanks to some of the same technology they use to produce actual Hollywood movies! Your perfect, pearly whites can now be precisely what you want, more durable, and may actually save you money. And it’s all because of the latest advances in cosmetic dentistry.
Joe Carrick, DDS, and Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, states that a software-augmented CT scan virtually places implants and uses this information to create a surgical guide allowing actual placement in the exact location as shown on the computer. By combining this process with intra-oral scanners, dentists can develop a virtual prototype and use a 3D printer to make an actual model. After a treatment plan is accepted, teeth can be prepared and rescanned to fabricate the crown, veneer, or bridge to produce the result the patient and dentist have chosen. Some dental offices even have the equipment to create crowns and other fixtures in-office in a single day.
“Much work can be accomplished without the need for impressions and their inherent potential to create distortions and inaccuracies,” explains Dr. Carrick. “The benefits are that dentists can identify problems and proactively communicate with patients, formulate plans, and discuss number of visits and fees before anything is started.”
Conserving tooth structure is a priority for many dentists. An advancement in dental restoration includes monolithic zirconia crowns which allow minimal reduction of the tooth with fracture resistant ceramic. Another popular new option is e.max, known for its strength and beauty. You can have a dentist change as little or as much of your smile as you’re looking to with this all-ceramic, metal-free material available in crowns or veneers.
If you’re on a budget or not sure if you’re looking for a lasting transformation, you can also consider a Snap-On Smile. “It’s a way to try out a new smile before committing to a permanent change,” says Elizabeth Lowery, DDS, who is accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Snap-On Smile is a hi-tech dental resin that is very thin yet extremely strong. It fits right over teeth to give a natural look even if you have stains, chips, gaps, or missing teeth.
If you lack time or are on a budget, whitening teeth is another way to improve your smile. However, you may want to consider getting the treatment from your dentist as opposed to buying product from a store. “I don’t think that the little whitener in toothpastes does any good,” states Michael Reece, DDS, accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Your perfect, pearly whites can now be precisely what you want, more durable, and may actually save you money.
“Dentists are best suited to determine the best whitening concentration for maximum effectiveness. Also, you get better results with less tooth sensitivity when the bleach is applied to teeth with custom bleaching trays available from your dentist,” adds Dr. Reece, who practices in Bryan.
Some people’s teeth are more susceptible to staining from foods and drinks due to bacteria present in the mouth. “Every person has a thin biofilm of bacteria and their byproducts present on teeth, which makes teeth more prone to staining. Routine dental hygiene appointments and good home care reduce this biofilm and bacterial byproducts which then decrease staining,” explains Shannon Roberts, DDS, of University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.
Presently, one of the most common dental procedures is a smile makeover with eight to ten porcelain veneers. You can achieve this new look in two visits. “Porcelain veneers can permanently whiten the smile as well as give ideal size, shape, and proportions to teeth,” describes Dr. Lowery of Avery Ranch Dental in Austin. “This can rejuvenate the smile by taking 10 to 15 years off a person’s appearance.”
Though you should always contact a local dentist for specific questions and issues, ever-advancing technology might mean that your personal fountain of youth is only as far away as a few clicks and a new, confident smile.
Cosmetic braces or aligners may offer you a solution to improving your smile without cramping your lifestyle. Clear braces with tooth colored wires or invisible plastic aligners can help with crooked or crowded teeth as well as over bites and under bites. Invisalign uses technology to create models and 3D images of your teeth for custom treatment. Dr. Lowery describes Invisalign as a fast and nearly invisible alternative to traditional braces, while Dr. Reece explains that clear cosmetic braces can give you a new smile in six months.
There are important factors to consider when choosing a cosmetic dentist. “Ask to see the dentist’s portfolio and a list of patients you can call for a testimonial. Also, research the dentist with the state board association to make sure there are no active complaints,” Dr. Roberts concludes.
By Perla Sarabia Johnson