Cosmetic dentistry has become such a common term that almost every dentist calls themselves a “cosmetic dentist”. The American Dental Association does not recognize
cosmetic dentistry as a specialty in dentistry. The fact is, that even though cosmetic dentistry is not officially recognized, it does take extra skill, experience, and training. A good cosmetic dentist is concerned with both the esthetic outcome as well as the functional outcome working together in harmony.
Common procedures used in cosmetic dentistry include teeth whitening, porcelain crowns, dental implants, limited tooth movement, gum sculpting, dental bonding, and porcelain veneers. With the exception of teeth whitening, all of the other procedures require extra skill on the part of the cosmetic dentist. The goal in any cosmetic dentistry procedure is to have the final product look and feel as natural as possible. This includes proper treatment planning before and skilled preparation during the procedure. Choosing the ideal procedures, utilizing the highest quality materials, and pairing with the best dental laboratories are what makes for ideal cosmetic dentistry results. Being able to correct or fix any issues that might arise are just as important.
Cosmetic Dentistry Case Example
Patient came to the dentist with a list of things she did not like about her teeth. She did not like spaces between teeth, wanted whiter teeth, and also had a badly decayed tooth in the upper molar area.
Step 1 – Fully explain your wants and needs. You and your cosmetic dentist need open lines of communication. An agreement should be reached about what can and cannot be done based on time, budget, and function.
Step 2 -Full treatment planning records need to be taken. Pre operative x-rays, study models, and digital photographs. These are essential for a good cosmetic dentistry outcome.
Step 3 – Options for treatment should be presented. Discuss options and develop an agreed upon treatment plan. In the pictured case, the mouth was healthy (except for decayed molar) and free of periodontal disease. Patient was shown what the final treatment could look like. Such visual cues can be very helpful in decision making. In this case the treatment plan decided upon included:
-Removal of an extremely decayed molar, and replacement with a dental implant.
-Porcelain Veneers to correct shape, size, color, and spacing of the front six upper teeth.
-Teeth Whitening – This will allow the patient to whiten the teeth to a more desirable color, so that the new porcelain veneers, and implant crown can be matched to a more visually appearing, cosmetic color.
Step 4 – Patient has badly decayed molar removed and is referred to periodontist for implant consultation and placement. Following placement of dental implant patient will wait 4-6 months for healing and bone strengthening to occur before final porcelain crown can be placed.
Step 5 – Begin Teeth Whitening. This procedure can either be done in office (in one hour), or the patient can complete teeth whitening at home over the course of 2-4 weeks. This step is important as the final porcelain veneers and porcelain crown will be fabricated to match the new, lighter, final shade following teeth whitening.
Step 6 – Following teeth whitening, porcelain veneers procedure can begin. Porcelain veneers (also referred to as porcelain laminates) are super thin, custom fabricated
shells of tooth colored porcelain designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your smile’s overall aesthetic appearance. These shells are adhesively bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, width, and/or length. At end of this appointment patient will be sent home in temporary veneers while the laboratory can fabricate the custom porcelain veneers.
Step 7 – Placement and bonding of final veneers. This is a critical step in this case as the porcelain veneers must not only line up properly to close gaps but also be the right color and shape.
Step 8 – Placement of porcelain crown following healing of the dental implant.
Step 9 – Happy Smile!
Cosmetic Dentistry Conclusion
There you have the steps involved in a typical cosmetic dentistry case. Sometimes there are extra visits if any issues arise but if planned for properly the patient should know exactly what to expect in terms of the cosmetic dentistry treatment schedule as well as finances. Cosmetic dentistry can transform an ordinary smile into one that makes the patient smile bright for a long time to come.