Cosmetic dentistry is dental work performed to improve the appearance of the teeth as well as enhance the smile of the patient. The act of cosmetic dentistry requires dental training and experience as well as a good aesthetic sense. In some cases, the dental work is performed to improve the appearance of the teeth as well as restore the functionality of the area being treated.
Good Reasons for Cosmetic Dentistry
- Improve your confidence in your appearance
- Repair teeth that have been damaged
- Change or improve the appearance of your teeth
- Better oral health
- Replace missing teeth
Bad Candidates for Cosmetic Dentistry
- Patients who have unrealistic expectations
- Patients who won’t follow after-care instructions from the doctor
- A person undergoing a procedure to make someone else happy
- A person in poor physical health
The cost of cosmetic dentistry varies depending on the dental procedure being performed on the patient. The cost also depends on the area of the country where the dental work is performed, any facility fees and whether or not any of the procedure is covered by insurance. Most dental work considered to be purely cosmetic is not covered by insurance. Any work that is said to be restorative and medically necessary might have some or all of the cost covered by insurance. A board-certified member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry can give you a better idea of the final cost. In general, here are some average cosmetic dentistry costs:
- Dental Bonding – $300-$600 per tooth
- Teeth Whitening – In-office whitening is around $650 per session
- Dental Implants – A single implant is $900-$3000 depending on the complexity of the implant
- Invisalign – The treatment price is in the range of $3000-$5000
- Porcelain Veneers – The cost is anywhere between $925-$2500 per tooth
- Dental Crowns – The average cost is between $500-$1500
- Dental Bridges – A dental bridge can run anywhere from $700-$1500 per tooth
Choosing the Type of Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic Dentistry includes a number of treatment options and some of them include:
- Dental Bonding – A method to treat minor aesthetic flaws that impact the front teeth including fractured, gapped, crooked and chipped teeth. Dental bonding can also improve the appearance of teeth that are discolored. Bonding material is applied to the tooth and then it is shaped, hardened and polished to match the natural teeth of the patient.
- Teeth Whitening – A highly concentrated gel made of peroxide is applied to the teeth several times to remove discoloration and stains.
- Dental Implants – These are considered to be a permanent solution for tooth loss. The implant replaces missing teeth and eliminates gaps. They are fused to a small post made of titanium and placed in the bone socket of the area with the missing tooth. As time passes, the tissue grows around the implant and anchors it to the jaw.
- Invisalign – Known more commonly as invisible braces, Invisalign gradually shifts the teeth over a period of time through the use of alignment trays. The trays are worn for two weeks at a time and they correct teeth that are misaligned.
- Porcelain Veneers – A treatment that fixes issues with the front teeth including chipped and misaligned teeth as well as discolored teeth. The veneer is attached to the front of the tooth to either cover surface damage or stains. The veneer is fabricated from an impression of the tooth made by the dentist and then bonded to the tooth.
- Dental Crowns – A crown is placed over a tooth to cover it and to also restore its shape. The crown also serves to enhance the appearance of the tooth and make it stronger. The crown fits over the tooth and covers the part that can be seen at the gum line.
- Dental Bridges – Bridges are used to fill-in any gaps between the teeth and to also replace missing teeth. The dental bridge consists of a false tooth called a pontic which is fused to metal. The bridge is then anchored to the teeth that are next to it to help create a tooth that looks natural.
Risks and Complications
Patients need to be aware of the potential risks and complications before undergoing cosmetic dentistry. Some of the common risks and complications include:
- Increased sensitivity
- Gum redness
- The color of the treated area not matching the natural teeth
- Uneven bite
- Nerve damage
The amount of time it takes a patient to recover from a cosmetic dentistry procedure depends on a number of factors including the type of treatment performed, the extent of the treatment and if the treatment was done in one or multiple sessions. Plus, each patient heals at a different rate so the recovery time varies per person.
Cosmetic Dentistry Results
If the patient takes care of his or her dental work, the results from cosmetic dentistry should be long lasting. Teeth whitening has to be performed every month or two to maintain the results. A dental crown can last up to 15 years while implants can last 25 years. Veneers can last up to 20 years and dental bonding is good for about 10 years. Dental bridges have a lifespan of up to 15 years and the results from Invisalign should last if the patient follows the post-op instructions and wears a retainer at night.