We often think of our mouths as being fairly similar from person to person with the prime differentiator being how well we care for the teeth we have. This oversimplification is justified, since most of us don’t spend our day staring into the mouths of dental patients and tending to their concerns. To a dentist, dental hygienist or dental assistant, however, mouths are as diverse as the patients we see.
Differences in the appearance of our teeth are, in fact, owing to the degree to which we care for them in many cases – but this oversimplifies the wide diversity of circumstances that can result in big differences in how our teeth look. We need only think of the mouths of many hockey players to appreciate the role that incidents and accidents can play in how our teeth look. Genetic disorders are another consideration that can have a drastic impact on the colour, shape and presentation of our teeth. In fact, there are too many variations to list here.
The fact is that while cosmetic procedures are concerned with ‘looks’, the quality of life offered by improvements in dental esthetics should not be underestimated. The social impact of being self conscious about the appearance of our teeth can have real effects on how we feel about ourselves and on how we engage with others and express ourselves. Many patients report feeling freed from chronic feelings of embarrassment when the appearance of their smile is improved. They no longer cover their mouths when smiling and feel free to speak, eat and engage confidently with the world! If you have concerns with your smile, we are the cosmetic dentists in Edmonton for you!
Luckily, modern dentistry is on our side where it comes to improving the appearance of our smiles. The developments in cosmetic dentistry have evolved significantly and they continue to do so. Many of the cosmetic services that are commonly offered at your cosmetic dentist in Edmonton were, at one time, only available to the rich and famous! We would be happy to help answer your questions and review your options, but for now, here is an overview of the practice of cosmetic dentistry to help you consider the many ways that your smile could be assisted by a skilled cosmetic dentist and their team. A new smile and a new you is now within reach!
Cosmetic Dentistry Fields and Types
While there are many different services held under the umbrella of cosmetic dentistry, there are two primary areas of dental practice that are concerned with the appearance, or aesthetic, of the teeth and mouth. The field of practice that is most concerned with the appearance of each of the teeth is called prosthodontics. You might note the similarity in title to prosthetics, and that’s because prosthetic treatments is exactly what they are!
What is a Prosthetic?
Prosthetics are artificial replacements of a biological part of the human body. For example, the loss of a leg below the knee due to a traumatic incident may result in a prosthetic limb being affixed to the impacted leg which extends to the floor may assist an amputee in their ability to walk unassisted and maintain their balance upright without the use of canes or crutches.
Prosthodontics, or prosthetic dentistry, is concerned with offering prosthetic additions to the teeth to restore comfort, functionality and the appearance of the tooth itself. The services offered within the field of prosthodontics are extensive. They may include, but are not limited to:
- Dental Crowns – where a tooth has been broken, damaged or rendered non-viable, root canal therapy may be offered to allow the otherwise dead or damaged tooth to remain safely along the dental arch. Dental crowns are made of stable compounds that are not susceptible to decay and are strong enough to sustain the force required to bite and chew. Crowns cover the entirety of the exposed tooth and protect the natural tooth from further damage.
- Dental Bridge – where a tooth has been lost or removed due to disease or trauma, a dental bridge holds a pontic (a false tooth) in place of the natural tooth to protect the spacing between teeth and improve the appearance of the dental arch.
- Dental Veneer – like a thin shell for teeth that are discoloured, mishappen, or otherwise healthy but esthetically unappealing. Veneers are adhered to the presentation side of the tooth to bring symmetry and an improved aesthetic to the smile.
- Dental Bonding – An alternative to veneers which cover the entire surface of the tooth’s outward presentation, bonding can be moulded, painted and cured onto smaller areas of the tooth to restore shape, colour or even bond broken parts of a tooth back to the natural tooth.
- Fixed or Removable Dentures – Where several natural teeth have been lost, dentures may be used to replace the lost teeth and restore the ability to chew. Dentures may be partial, or may cover the entirety of the upper and lower arches. Fixed dentures may be mounted in the mouth permanently using implant root systems with abutments or they may be removable.
Orthodontic Field of Dentistry
The second field of practice within cosmetic dentistry is call orthodontic dentistry. Orthodontists are specialists in the alignment of the teeth and jaw. Rather than assessing, diagnosing and treating concerns associated with the appearance and functionality of each individual tooth along the dental arch, orthodontists correct the alignment and spacing between teeth and work to ensure that the mechanism of the jaw and the associated joints are in alignment in order to promote good form and function.
Orthodontists work with appliances in the mouth to promote correct alignment of the teeth and jaw, most typically involving the installation and maintenance of braces and the associated appliances. This may include, but is not limited to:
Traditional Metal Braces – Metal components affixed to the teeth which apply intentional pressure to the teeth and associated ligaments in order to promote movement in the direction of optimal alignment. Typically, brackets are cemented to the teeth and a metal arch wire is threaded through the brackets.
Clear Aligners – Next generation alignment trays customized to fit closely around the teeth to promote alignment without the aesthetic of metal braces. Commonly known as Invisalign® in Edmonton.
Head Gear – An external appliance worn on the head to exert additional pressure on the teeth and jaw to promote ideal alignment.
Retainers – dental appliances worn in the mouth to prevent drifting of the teeth after orthodontic therapy.
Other Cosmetic Services
Some cosmetic services do not fit easily under the umbrella of prosthetics or orthodontics, as they neither promote alignment or restore the natural tooth. Similarly, not all cosmetic dentistry services have the effect of exclusively serving the functional or cosmetic needs of the mouth, rather they may positively impact both form and function. Examples include:
Teeth Whitening – Lightens the shade of the tooth’s dentin to provide a more pleasant appearance, but does not impact the placement of the tooth or its position along the dental arches.
Dental Implants – Replaces the tooth and root system of a natural tooth. Provides a pleasing aesthetic while returning functionality and stability to the bite and preventing resorption of the jawbone.