What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

by Charlotte Wood
(last updated March 25, 2009)

In the past decades, the field of cosmetics has expanded exponentially. There are cosmetic procedures available everywhere and for just about everything. You can get cosmetic procedures for your face, your breasts, your legs, your butt, your nose, your eyes, your hair, and even your teeth. Cosmetic dentistry has, more recently, become must more popular: Some procedures can be done at home, while others require actually making an appointment with and going in to see your dentist. You may be wondering, however, what cosmetic dentistry actually is? How can you investigate cosmetic dentistry if you're not even positive what is actually involved in cosmetic dentistry? Here are some basic facts about cosmetic dentistry so you can make a more informed decision about your teeth.

The most common form of cosmetic dentistry is tooth whitening, and this is really the only form of cosmetic dentistry that you can do at home. Whitening strips are used to bleach your teeth, removing or covering up long-time stains. There are more professional brands of whitening strips, like Crest Whitening Strips or Rembrandt Strips, and there are also more generic brands found at Wal Mart, Target, and Wal Greens. Some whitening procedures, however, require you to go in to see your dentist. The strips work to whiten your teeth over a period of time, whereas dental procedures usually whiten your teeth all in one go. With teeth whitening, it is not uncommon for your teeth to be sensitive for a while, regardless of the form of whitening your choose.

Another form of cosmetic dentistry is called enamel shaping. Enamel shaping works to remove chipped parts of the contouring enamel to make it so the teeth have a better appearance. When the damaged enamel is removed, the teeth lose much of their discoloration and look cosmetically better. Enamel shaping is usually used to correct small chips in the teeth—I mean, who wants a chipped tooth, anyway?

Contouring, or tooth shaping, is another form of cosmetic dentistry. Tooth shaping is actually a somewhat instant treatment and focuses on subtle changes in tooth alignment: Sometimes it's even a substitute for braces! Bonding puts another layer on your teeth to protect them, and veneers are an ultra thin layer placed directly on the teeth to protect them. Gum raising is another common form of cosmetic dentistry and works to reshape and refine the gum line.

So cosmetic dentistry has many forms and each can address different dental cosmetic needs you may have. Consult your dentist about what you think needs doing, and you'll be able to find a solution that will make you and your teeth happy. If the rest of you looks great, you teeth should look great too!

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