Okay, so we all pretty much know what cosmetic surgery is, right? Maybe you have some associations that are not so nice, but you do have an overall idea of the concept. But what about cosmetic dentistry?

According to the experts at Lanier Dental in Gainesville, GA, even the people who come in for appointments are not quite clear on what they are dealing with. So today, we put together a list of some essential basics to keep in mind when it comes to cosmetic dentistry. Jump right in!

What is it in the first place?

It is exactly what it sounds like: a sub branch of the dental trade where the procedures are primarily aimed at improving the appearance of the patient’s teeth, though not necessarily the health of those same teeth.

That said, these procedures do have benefits beyond mere aesthetics: they can make teeth maintenance easier in the long run and relieve the infamous grinding problem.

How is it different from general dentistry?

The difference is a matter of niche and priority. General dentistry refers to the essential procedures which are concerned with your dental health. This includes teeth cleaning, extraction, root canal work, filling, repair, and all the rest of the similar procedures.

Cosmetic dentistry is like an added benefit to the basic package. Their primary purpose is to make your smile prettier and to boost your confidence and self-esteem, and sometimes they benefit your dental health along the way. These procedures include laser whitening, cosmetic implants, treating gums (e.g. for discoloration and such), shaping the crowns, and so on. Click here for some handy ideas on the link between smiling and confidence.

What kinds of treatments are typically available?

We already mentioned some types of procedures that may typically be considered more in the line of cosmetic dentistry than general dentistry, however, there is n clear cut line between the two, and the specific boundaries setting often varies from one dentist to the next. That said, we can single out a few procedures that are predominantly cosmetic in nature.

Teeth whitening is one such textbook example. Whitening treatments come in several different forms, including teeth bleaching, teeth lasering, and various chemically or mechanically based treatments in between, such as employing special toothpaste or even scraping or polishing the teeth.

Teeth straightening, more formally known as orthodontics, is also commonly encountered. The most frequent from of teeth straightening are the widely dreaded bracers. A more discreet, less embarrassing variant are the clear aligner products, which are basically a transparent plastic bracer. It is worth noting that clear aligners are not as effective as traditional bracers and are not recommended for use by children.

Another popular way of adjusting the color of the patient’s teeth is applying veneers. These are essentially thin shells for your teeth, made from porcelain. They are applied to the front of a given tooth or set of teeth in order to hide any discoloration or mismatch in hue.

Do keep in mind that these are not permanent solutions: the porcelain wears and tears, so your veneers will eventually need to be replaced, and possibly also repaired every once in a while. Also, be prepared for the fact that applying veneers requires that a part of your natural tooth be shaven off.

Working on the crowns and bridges is also a major category in cosmetic dentistry. Bridges do exactly what their name implies: they serve to fill the large gaps between teeth, especially when a tooth or more is missing. As such, bridges can be said to be health-oriented as well as cosmetic. They are a popular alternative to orthodontics and implants because they are more cost friendly and far less invasive. You can improve your dental aesthetics without all the torture of straightening and replacing.

As for crowns, they focus on the teeth themselves rather than the space between them. Crowns serve to repair cracked or chipped teeth and give them their normal shape back. They are also sometimes used as a crutch in the situations where the teeth need a notably large filling. Much like veneers, crowns are typically made of porcelain.