By Dr George Paul

Cosmetic dentistry, presently, is the most valuable treatment option for a variety of dental imperfections. It allows people to enhance their appearance in ways never before possible. People who have not been to a dentist in many years are often amazed at what can be done to improve their dental health and looks. Here are some frequently asked questions on cosmetic dentistry …

What is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental treatment that improves the appearance of a person’s teeth, gums and/or bite. Most people want their teeth to be straighter, whiter and pleasing to the eye when they smile.

I am depressed due to my unpleasant front teeth and feel shy to talk to people …
Cosmetic dental treatment can solve your unpleasant smile after a proper treatment plan. This definitely will enhance your face value and confidence level. Discoloured teeth due to decay, stains, gaps between teeth, crooked teeth, chipped/broken tooth, tooth shape and size, full mouth reconstruction of broken and worn out teeth due to age, black amalgam fillings, and bad breath are usually dental problems that bother a person.

What are laminates/veneers?
Laminates/veneers are thin porcelain shells which bonds to the tooth surface to strengthen, mask the tooth discolouration, correction of various other deformities of teeth that beautify the smile.

For laminate treatment, will my whole tooth be ground like for crown?
No. Unlike crown, laminate requires minimum shaving of tooth structure and this shaving is only on the front surface of tooth. Whereas for crown, the whole tooth structure needs to be shaved considerably.

What is smile makeover and is it a time-consuming procedure with many appointments?
Not exactly. This varies with each individual, depending on the need. Sometimes, you can dramatically improve your oral health and appearance in just a couple of visits. Normally, the procedure would be completed in a week or two depending on the nature of the procedure.
Cosmetic dentists will work to make your treatment as convenient as possible, perhaps choosing slightly longer visits instead of frequent trips to the office. Discuss your goals and concerns with your dentist so the best plan can be developed for your individual situation. If you start today, a new smile can be yours sooner than you think.

My crown in the front doesn’t match my teeth — it looks fake and dark line at the crown margin. What can be done?
Tooth crowns are sometimes made with porcelain fused to metal which later gets exposed and create dark margins on gums and crown margin. There are metal free crowns which can solve this problem. Laminate is hundred percent metal free. A skilled aesthetic dentist will not only match the colour and contour of the adjacent teeth, but your smile will look just as natural as it did before getting the crown.

Is my new smile permanent? Strength and colour stability of laminate is good enough?
Yes, sufficient colour stability and strength is assured since dental laminates are made of porcelain and it is finished with ultrapolished surface. So stains will not be attached. The bondings will double the strength of laminate. With good home care and regular visits to your dentist, modern materials can last for many years, and possibly decades. Like most things, excellent maintenance will extend the life of your dental restorations.

I would be able to see and get the smile as I want ...?
Yes definitely you can. You would be able to see the shape and colour of the smile correction done before completion. During the trial session, you could see the smile in a mirror and suggest necessary changes or share your opinion with doctor.

I am totally worried with old black fillings in my mouth …
It can be easily changed to tooth coloured fillings in one visit without injection.

Age is a barrier for cosmetic treatment?
Sometimes, yes. As age advance, teeth will have tear and wear or enamel loss, gum disease, poor oral hygiene, decayed teeth, shaky teeth etc. Such conditions are not favourable for cosmetic treatment. But if good oral hygiene exists, cosmetic treatment is possible.

Can I have a beautiful smile after makeover treatment?
It depends. Each patient may not be a good candidate for smile makeover. Only after proper clinical evaluation, treatment plan can be decided. Treatment plan consists of facial profile evaluation, complexion of skin, shape and position of lips, level of patient expectation, cost affordability etc. Milky white colour also can be achieved but it’s better to have a natural teeth colour.  A smile enhancement can be made to look both dramatic and natural. Your dentist can use photographs (in a process called cosmetic imaging) and models to show you what to expect. Sometimes, trial materials can be placed directly on your teeth to help you visualise the change. Ask your dentist what can be done to give you the smile you desire.

Is cosmetic treatment a painful experience?
No. Procedures can be done under local anaesthesia if so required.

Is cosmetic dental treatment expensive?
Depends on the nature and invasiveness of the treatment plan. But a proper treatment plan can avoid wastage of time and money.

Can I make my teeth white since it’s stained due to smoking?
Teeth whitening or bleaching is normally contraindicated for smokers. Also, if bleached; habits like smoking, consumption of excessive black tea, black coffee, colour added beverages and food stuff can stain the teeth as colours get absorbed into the bleached teeth.

My teeth are worn out and appear very small ...
It can be corrected. It could be age related. Natural tear and wear increases as age advances. It can lead to flat teeth appearance and sensitive teeth. Without removing the teeth, sensitivity and appearance problem can be rectified.

How to choose a cosmetic dentist?
Choosing the right cosmetic dentist, one with extensive training, substantial experience and a gentle approach that understands clients’ needs, is the key in achieving a successful outcome.
The cosmetic dentist should have an artistic eye and good communication skills. It is important to find a dentist who is accurate in his or her evaluation of your needs, precise in the execution of the treatment plan and meticulous in craftsmanship. Make certain that the dentist addresses not only your teeth, but also your gums, lips, facial structure — and your specific requests. Excellent cosmetic dentistry demands a highly sophisticated artistic sense.
New technology, procedures and advanced exclusive training for dentist have created vast improvements in what a cosmetic dentist can do. The success and outcome depends mainly on the case selection, treatment plan, communication between cosmetic dentist and patient and also patient co-operation.

l Dr George Paul is a senior cosmetic dentist at Future Dental Center, Doha

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