Everything You Need To Know About Cosmetic Dentistry

First impressions count more than you realize. In fact, a recent study found that 48 percent of adults "believe that a smile is the most memorable feature" when they first meet someone. While your smile doesn't have to be movie star perfect, people do notice crooked and discolored teeth. Luckily, modern dentistry can fix everything from poorly spaced teeth to missing teeth with simple cosmetic procedures.

What is cosmetic dentistry?

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) states that the goal of cosmetic dentistry is to create a "positive change to your teeth and to your smile." While traditional dentistry focuses on the health and function of a patient's teeth, cosmetic dentistry focuses on their overall appearance, including shape, color, and position.

What is the difference between a dentist and a cosmetic dentist?

While both cosmetic dentists and general dentists have the same education and can both perform routine dental maintenance, cosmetic dentists focus their studies more on the aesthetics of the teeth and mouth. Furthermore, they focus their practice on aesthetic procedures whereas a general dentist focuses their practice around routine maintenance, cavities, and oral hygiene. 

What are cosmetic dental procedures?

There are many cosmetic dental services used to improve both the appearance of a patient's teeth as well as their confidence. Some of the more popular procedures include:

  • Whitening. While there is no set shade of white that teeth must be, Americans like bright white. If yours are either naturally yellow or have been stained by coffee, tea, or nicotine, you can have them professionally whitened by your cosmetic dentist. The results typically last several years.
  • Veneers. Veneers are thin pieces of molded porcelain that are permanently applied to each tooth. They can alter the color, size, shape, and direction of the tooth. For example, a tooth that is slightly crooked can have a veneer placed on it at a slight angle to visually straighten how that tooth appears in your mouth. 
  • Shaping. Cosmetic dentists can shape a tooth by filing down rough edges. They can also file down a front tooth that is longer than the one next to it, quickly correcting your smile. 

There are many procedures that can upgrade your smile after just a few hours in the dental chair. 

Is there an age limit for cosmetic dentistry?

While there is no hard and fast rule for cosmetic dentistry age limits, most cosmetic dentists like to see patients over 18. This is because the mouths and teeth of children and teens are still changing. General dentists still need to access teeth for fluoride treatments and orthodontists may need to apply braces to the teeth. Plus, a child does not lose all their primary teeth, sometimes called baby teeth, until they are older. 

It is important to have healthy teeth and gums before proceeding with any of the above procedures. Talk to your cosmetic dentist to formulate a plan for getting your teeth not only healthy but also beautiful.