It’s now widely agreed that your smile makes the first impression and increasingly we are wanting to improve our smile in just the same way as our hair and other aspects of our appearance.
Cosmetic dentistry is the business of altering teeth, gums, and even the jaw to improve appearance.
Most cosmetic dental procedures now fall into the realm of general dental practice treatments, these are listed below.
Common cosmetic dentistry procedures
Bleaching: lightening and brightening the teeth
Orthodontics: use of wires and brackets to move teeth into more ideal positions
White Fillings: use of plastic, resin or ceramic materials rather than metals to fill cavities
Veneers: very thin facings of ceramic, rather like a false fingernail, bonded onto the minimally prepared front surface of the tooth to change its colour, shape or position
Crowns: use of full coverage crowns (caps), involving substantial preparation of the tooth, to improve the appearance of unsightly, highly restored and/or broken teeth
Bridges: use of crowns on either side of a missing tooth/teeth to support a fixed artificial replacement tooth/teeth. These are usually cemented in place and are not removable.
Dentures: removable artificial teeth supported on plastic or metal frameworks
Implants: titanium artificial roots surgically placed in the jawbone at the site of missing teeth, and used to support crowns and bridges to replace them
Gum surgery: unsightly or missing gum may be surgically enhanced/replaced
What does cosmetic dentistry entail?
It rather depends upon the type of result you are looking for and what your current problem is. The modern approach for cosmetic dentistry is to tackle as many issues as clinically and technically as possible using a three pronged approach:
- Align teeth using orthodontics.
- Bleached teeth using teeth whitening techniques.
- Bond to existing teeth to repair small areas which could be dark, chipped or broken.
This approach is known as align, bleach, bond and is the most conservative route to changing your smile as it ensures that we maintain as much natural tooth structure as possible.
If for any reason this is not possible, perhaps for time reasons (orthodontics can take many months) or for clinical reasons (your teeth may be too dark to whiten) then we could consider an alternate treatment route and make corrections you want using a combination of whitening, crowns and dental veneers.
Our recommendation is not to become fixed upon the type of treatment that you want, many patients go to the dentist asking for orthodontics or perhaps veneers. The best way to approach cosmetic dentistry is to focus on your outcome, perhaps taking some photographs of celebrities whose teeth you like and talking to your dentist about what you want to achieve.
Your dentist can then work with you to discuss the many treatment options to achieve your outcome.
Where can I have it done?
Depending on the complexity of the case and his/her own training in this area, your own dentist may be able to carry out the work or may refer you to a dentist more experienced in the kind of outcome you wish to attain.
Recommendation by a dentist or someone who has had cosmetic dental procedures is the best way to choose a practitioner. Ask to see examples of their work, whether they have had specific and advanced training in this area of dentistry, or are on a specialist list.
“The Dentist Made Me Feel Very Much at Ease” Today’s appointment at the dentist was brilliant. Even though I had my tooth out which for some, could have been a lot of pain, the dentist made me feel very much at ease! Well done! And Thank You!” R Robinson
Cosmetic Dentistry Abroad
This is becoming increasingly popular with people doing everything they can to save money wherever possible.
We believe the key things to consider here is the value that you receive for the pounds spent on your dentistry. Best value dentistry with the best treatment is what we are always striving for and we know that you want more than just to have the cheapest dentistry with the poorest service, don’t you?
A good level of service provided to you should always include:
- A personal consultation with the dentist that will be undertaking your treatment, you want to be sure that this person is trustworthy and capable of achieving a result you want.
- An emergency dental service provision in case of unexpected problems in between appointments.
- Access to your cosmetic dentist for these emergencies and not just a call centre.
- A cosmetic dentist that is looking at your whole body health, and not just focused on your teeth. Your body is a complete system and we want to ensure that the muscles and nerves in your face and mouth do not adversely affect other muscles in your head and neck which could cause joint pain or headaches.
- A local dentist which you can pop in to visit at short notice in the event of any problem either between appointments or after your cosmetic dental treatment is complete.
- A cosmetic dentist which understands the ‘look’ you are after. Many celebrities opt for the ‘Hollywood’ look which is particularly white and regular. This can often look rather unnatural in the UK, what is important is to have good communication with your cosmetic dentist to ensure that you will end up with the look that you want.
When you are considering the cost of cosmetic dentistry and possibly travelling abroad you should also include flights, hotels and transfers between the hotel and the dental surgery.
You should also consider travel insurance and add this to your budget.
If you consider going abroad we also recommend taking into account other planned trips. Many cosmetic dental treatments take any extended period of time to complete, you may have unforeseen problems in between these appointments and so you need to consider how these would be handled if your dentist was overseas.
The result of all of this is that whilst dentistry in the UK can sometimes been more expensive than dentistry overseas we believe that UK cosmetic dentistry offers you much better value due to the added benefits that working with the UK dentist brings you.
Of course we could reduce the level of service we provide in the UK and offer this at a lower rate, but we know that our discerning patients such as you want more than that.
How do I find out what’s involved?
Most cosmetic dentists will have a portfolio of cases they have performed and should be able to explain to you exactly what they are planning to do. Ask to see examples, models, diagrams, etc, if you are unclear. You should be given a treatment plan before the work starts, outlining not only the procedure but any potential problems, and the price. Make sure you fully understand what is involved before you start the treatment, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek a second opinion if in doubt.
What will it cost?
Cosmetic dentistry is almost always carried out privately, and will vary with the complexity of the case and dentist’s own price structure. The dentist should be able to give you a reasonably clear estimate of cost to avoid nasty surprises. However, dentistry is not an exact science; sometimes unexpected issues arise so you should be prepared for possible additional fees.
Will it hurt?
Dentistry today should rarely hurt, though some patients are more sensitive than others. Modern local anaesthesia is extremely effective and is universally used. For patients with significant issues regarding dentistry, sedation techniques are available to help reduce the stresses involved.
How long will it last?
Your practitioner should be able to give you an idea of how long the results should last, but there are no certainties in this, and young people who have irreversible procedures carried out, e.g. veneers or crowns, should be aware that they will need to be replaced a number of times in their lifetime however well the work has been done.
What if I’m not happy with the result?
Try as far as possible to settle the problem directly with the practitioner who undertook the procedure. If you are unable to resolve it this way, then most practices have a complaints procedure. If this fails, you should seek the help of the General Dental Council’s Complaints Service.
Some advice to avoid a situation where you are not happy is to request pre-operative diagnostic work. Generally speaking this means we take a dental impression of your teeth before we start, this is then sent to a highly skilled dental technician who can design your new smile on this model using tooth coloured wax.
We are then able to show you what you could look like afterwards and compare this to what you currently look like, all without doing anything to your teeth at all. Make sure that you ask your dentist for this preoperative trial before you go ahead with the treatment. You may need to pay for this service.