What is Considered Cosmetic Dentistry?
The primary focus of cosmetic dentistry is enhancing facial appearance. This is achieved by altering the position, color, size, shape or alignment of teeth. However, cosmetic dentistry can also bring about oral health benefits, and there are several areas where general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry overlap.
The fitting of dental implants, for instance, can be regarded as a restorative treatment to replace missing teeth but implants also preserve your smile by preventing changes in the shape of your face.
In improving your smile and the overall appearance of your teeth, cosmetic dentistry is considered as much an art as medical science.
A cosmetic dentist is generally regarded as a restorative dentist who has opted to study the art of enhancing a patient’s appearance. Many cosmetic dentists undertake extensive training in the concept of smile design – the intricate interaction between dental, skeletal and soft tissue structures of the face.
The American Dental Association (ADA) considers just one specialism as cosmetic dentistry: prosthodontics – replacement of missing or damaged teeth and jaw structures. However, a dentist offering cosmetic services is likely to provide an extensive range of cosmetic dentistry options in addition to prosthodontics.
These cosmetic treatments may include:
- Teeth whitening.
- Dental veneers.
- Tooth bonding.
Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening
Cosmetic dentistry provides the most effective and safest way to whiten your teeth. Whitening materials used by a dentist are stronger than store-bought whitening toothpastes, gels, and strips.
With the elimination of stains through professional whitening, your teeth will become healthier and stronger. Supported by a sound routine of brushing and flossing, the results of teeth whitening by a dentist are dependable and enduring.
Customized whitening trays are also available from dentists for use at home. These provide an effective alternative to over-the-counter whitening trays, which may fit badly, causing the whitening gel to leak and aggravate the gums.
Professional teeth whitening is less costly than other cosmetic dental treatments but can still make a big impact on your appearance.
Dental Veneers for the Hollywood Smile
Dental veneers – thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain cemented onto the front of teeth – are the cosmetic treatment of choice for people seeking a sparkling Hollywood smile. Favored by Tinseltown movie stars, veneers mask problems such as stained or cracked teeth. Veneers also protect the surface of teeth.
Dental veneers offer a more robust, aesthetically-pleasing alternative to tooth bonding but are typically more costly than other cosmetic dental procedures.
Using digital imaging, dentists can provide patients with customized veneers that closely match their natural teeth.
Advances in technology have led to ultra-thin porcelain veneers that require minimal preparation of the tooth and are less prone to staining than composite veneers.
Instant Results with Tooth Bonding
An alternative to veneers, tooth bonding entails the application of a tooth-colored plastic resin. This composite is bonded to the surface of the tooth with ultra-violet light or a laser.
Bonding disguises stained teeth, cracks in tooth enamel and gaps between teeth. The process can also be used as an alternative to amalgam fillings to fix cavities of decayed teeth.
Bonding is one of the most straightforward and affordable cosmetic dentistry treatments and can usually be completed in a single visit.
Cosmetic Dental Treatments with Health Benefits
Some dental treatments can be considered purely cosmetic Teeth whitening, for instance, gives you a great smile but is not a medical necessity.
However, many procedures that may come under the umbrella of cosmetic dentistry go far beyond simply making you more attractive.
These treatments include:
- Dental implants.
- Dental bridges.
Advantages of Dental Implants
In terms of both functionality and appearance, dental implants have many advantages over more traditional methods of replacing missing teeth. Implants look and feel like natural teeth and can be used instead of dentures, bridges or as a base for a dental plate.
In conjunction with dentures, implants give you a bite force as powerful as natural teeth. Traditional dentures provide a much weaker bite power, which can result in loss of bone.
Because implants bond with bone to become part of your jaw, they offer a permanent solution to tooth loss.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges – artificial teeth fused to a frame – can be used when several teeth have been lost. The bridge is supported by implants or the teeth next to the gap, while the mid-section contains the replacement tooth.
Bridges restore your smile by maintaining the shape of your face. They also allow you to speak and eat properly, prevent remaining teeth from moving out of position, and distribute the pressure of your bite evenly.
Are Crowns Considered Cosmetic Dentistry?
In the sense that crowns (aka caps) can be used to repair teeth damaged by decay, they can be considered a restorative treatment. However, crowns can be regarded as cosmetic when used simply to mask a misshapen or stained tooth or a filling that’s become discolored.
Crowns can provide both cosmetic and health benefits by strengthening the structure of a tooth while making your smile look natural again. Crowns are custom-made so they blend seamlessly in your mouth, matching the size, shape, and color of adjacent natural teeth.
What is Considered Cosmetic Dentistry for Insurance Purposes?
More than 50 percent of people in the U.S. have dental insurance but, according to the National Association of Dental Plans, treatments such as tooth bonding and veneers aren’t usually covered because they’re regarded as cosmetic.
Nevertheless, cosmetic dental treatment that also provides a functional benefit – such as restoring tooth structure – may be covered at 50 percent.
A dental procedure is considered cosmetic if:
- There’s no medical imperative.
- A tooth is not impaired.
- Treatment is solely for enhancing your smile.
If you are considering a cosmetic procedure not covered by your dental insurance, look for a dentist that offers affordable payment plans or accepts major credit cards or the CareCredit healthcare credit card, which covers some cosmetic dental work.