Cosmetic dentistry can redefine your look

The field of cosmetic dentistry has redefined itself compared to the past.

“The services we perform run the gamut of Botox and Juvederm because we are the most astutely trained in facial musculature,” said Dr. John Schwartz, ceramist and dentist at Integra Institute in Metairie. Cosmetic dentists are also trained in framing the lips and face, doing fillers and basically just making smiles look pretty.

Getting elective dental work done to look more glamorous may be worth your while as it may do more than just make you look more attractive. “According to research conducted by Beall Research & Training of Chicago, a new smile will make you appear more intelligent, interesting, successful and wealthy to others,” said Eric Nelson, media director at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Bleaching is one common request dentists receive. “There are many methods of bleaching from over-the-counter that you can get from a pharmacy to
bleaching in the office to take-home kits, which are highly effective for long-term folks,” said Schwartz.

The key to bleaching is contact time or how much the material touches your teeth. The intensity or strength of the material is also an important consideration. “We do the teeth and enamel in such a way that we can use peroxides that are approximately four to five times stronger than what we are capable of giving in a take-home kit or what is done over-the-counter and this is done without harming other parts of the tooth, internal structures or gums,” said Schwartz. Wonderful results can also be achieved in a shorter amount of time.

Some people do a combination of power bleaching, where the dentist bleaches in the office every day for five days for an hour. At the end of those five days, your teeth will be extremely white, which will last a long time. “Whitening treatments are the No. 1 requested cosmetic dental procedure and have increased more than 300 percent since 1996, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry,” said Nelson. Be sure to check with your dentist to see whether bleaching will be effective for you because for some people, it is not. “If you have large restorations on the front of your teeth, you are not a good candidate; if you have worn teeth, it will be painful; if you have a discoloration like a tetracycline stain, it generally takes six months,” said Schwartz.

To keep your teeth white, it can help to follow some nutritional tips. “Strawberries naturally whiten your teeth; raw veggies will clean your teeth and remove surface stains and you should drink from a straw whenever possible,” said Nelson. Baking soda will help remove stains and build-up. “Brush it on your teeth twice a month just as you would toothpaste and rinse,” said Nelson. Avoid drinking coffee, red wine and dark syrup sodas because they stain teeth quickly.

High-end services like laminates and crowns are just a few accessories that can change people’s lives. “Crowns and veneers can change the color of the smiles and change the shapes to make them more desirable looking,” said Schwartz. It takes a lot of man hours to make these restorations because they are made by hand and use the help of a ceramist.

Many people are interested in laminates. “They are little, thin shapes of porcelain that are used to cover the fronts and edges of the teeth,” said Schwartz.

There are a couple of methodologies available including no prep laminates, which are indicated in about 5percent of cases. These do not deliver the prettiest results but are less expensive and do not require preparing the tooth in order to place them on a tooth. No-prep veneers can often give an artificial look as well.

To get a real-life result that draws lots of compliments, you need a master ceramist. “People will look at you and say your smile looks great, natural and compelling but will not know they are laminates because they will look like your own teeth,” said Schwartz. Getting a nice result is about preparing the teeth underneath, which means shaving them a bit. “It is a thin shaving of your enamel that allows us to do a thin restoration that will look beautiful and blend indistinguishably with the rest of your mouth,” said Schwartz.

There have been significant advances over the last 20 years. “What is new and exciting is computer-assisted design and computer-assisted manufacturing of teeth,” said Schwartz. A material called an emax crown is popular and has gained momentum, though it has been around for about 15 years. “It has doubled the number of ceramic restorations that dentists placed last year and it is a beautiful material with the technical name lithium disilicate crowns,” said Schwartz. All of the new things are not predicted to stay. “I do not think lumineers will survive long-term because it is a no-prep thing and the technique will be used in cases where it should not be used,” said Schwartz.

Cosmetic dentistry involves a dentist and ceramist and if you are lucky, the same person may do both. “The dentist prepares teeth to make a case look right but it is the actual craft and artistry of the ceramist that makes the case beautiful,” said Schwartz. The dentist usually works in tandem with the ceramist and there are many different types to choose from. Some may charge $100 per crown while another may charge $800 per crown.

There is a big disparity as to the services you are getting so you need to not only trust your dentist but find out who your ceramist is.

Cosmetic dentists also cover orthodontics. One popular option is Invisalign, which is a clear alternative to braces. “You wear a clear retainer that has some forces placed in it that will move your teeth and every two weeks you change the retainer to move the teeth to your desired result,” said Schwartz.

Come with questions. Schwartz recommends that cosmetic dentistry patients interested in work such as laminates see before and after pictures, or the doctor’s and ceramist’s work. With a good consultation, a treatment plan can be designed that will be pleasing to the patient. Some cases can take months to finish while others can take as little as a week.

Finding happiness with cosmetic dentistry is about determining what you want, what it will cost and saving up for it. “Do not do it halfway; make sure that in five years from now you will be glad you had it done instead of saying you spent some money but it was not quite what you wanted,” said Schwartz. It is worth taking the time to learn about your options. “This is your face and your smile and you do not want to cheat on your smile; make sure it is done to the best of your ability,” said Schwartz.