Are cosmetic dentistry fears holding you back?
Some people are so self-conscious about their smiles that they won’t smile with their teeth in public. Instead, they’re careful to check themselves at every grin they throw someone’s way, converting it into a tight-lipped smile. Despite this, many people never consider cosmetic dentistry an option, either due to fear that they’ll be considered vain or because of the numerous myths surrounding the practice.
Some of these myths have their roots in truth from the surprisingly long history of cosmetic dentistry, but improvements in technology have turned once-truths into pure myths. Here are the most common myths that still linger around cosmetic dentistry today.
Myth #1: The procedures are purely cosmetic.
Despite being called cosmetic dentistry, there are myriad ways that cosmetic dentistry improves or restores your oral health. Dental veneers do improve the look of your smile, but they are also used to protect teeth if the enamel has become thin. Enamel erosion can cause the affected teeth to be more susceptible to chipping or cracking as well as sensitive to certain foods or temperatures; this sensitivity can develop into shooting pain as the erosion becomes worse. In these cases, veneers are used to protect your teeth and eliminate such pain.
Dental crowns can protect teeth that have been severely broken or undergone a root canal, while dental bonding can fix more minor cracks or chips, protecting you from the bacteria that can build up in hard-to-clean chips in your teeth. Many cosmetic dentistry procedures, including these, perform a cosmetic fix—but they also protect your teeth from further damage.
Myth #2: Cosmetic dentistry weakens teeth.
Ideally, cosmetic dentistry will give you a healthy smile that you love. That said, the health of your smile is the most important factor. Sacrificing your oral health or the strength of your teeth for the sake of appearance isn’t an option for cosmetic dentists. This is why discussing your treatment options is so important; Dr. Harrison will tell you what procedures are—or aren’t—a good fit for you.
Myth #3: It’s expensive.
Cosmetic procedures that are considered to be restorative are covered, to varying extents, by most insurance companies. New technology also cuts down costs, allowing dentists to get materials more easily and perform procedures more efficiently. For example, many dentists can now design and mill dental crowns in their offices, allowing patients to get a crown in just a single visit without compromising durability.
However, some cosmetic dentistry procedures can be costly, especially those requiring extensive work. For this reason, many practices now offer payment plans to assist you in achieving your healthy smile goals. Talk to the team at Millennium Dental about their CareCredit payment plan options.
Myth #4: Cosmetic dentistry hasn’t changed much.
Cosmetic dentistry has changed a lot, even over the last couple of decades. The materials dentists use look better and last longer, from porcelain crowns to tooth-colored fillings, and many dentists use laser scanners to capture 3-D images of their patients’ teeth to design same-day crowns, rather than messy and gross-tasting putties. Advances in anesthesia mean that patients don’t experience pain even during a root canal. Technology is advancing at a steady pace and has made it easier, faster, and more comfortable than ever to have a dental procedure.
Myth #5: Cosmetic dentistry always involves major procedures and major changes.
While there are procedures that require the use of localized anesthesia to keep you comfortable, there are plenty of procedures that don’t require this. Teeth whitening and dental bonding to fix a chipped or broken tooth are both simple and painless procedures that don’t drastically change the look of your smile. Crowns are more involved, requiring anesthesia, but these restore your smile instead of changing it drastically.
Myth #6: Teeth whitening damages teeth.
This myth is partially true. The kits you get from the store, if used incorrectly or too often, can absolutely damage your teeth. The harsh ingredients can erode enamel, cause sensitive teeth, irritated gums, and may even negatively affect your mouth’s good bacteria. Since they don’t follow all the curves of your teeth, you can also end up with yellow spots.
Whitening treatments provided by the dentist are safer—and provide better results—than over-the-counter whitening strips. There are two ways to whiten teeth at the dentist’s office. One involves a specialized gel that breaks down the stains in your teeth when exposed to a certain kind of light, while the second involves a custom tray that you take home and use to apply the whitening gel to your teeth daily for two weeks. This tray molds perfectly to your teeth and doesn’t expose your sensitive gums to the whitening agents.
Myth #7: Crowns don’t require any maintenance.
Your crowns need to be cleaned just like your natural teeth do. They require regular brushing, flossing, and mouthwash, as well as thorough cleanings at the dentist twice a year. Failing to do this not only increases the risk of cavities in your other teeth—and in the tooth underneath your crown, which can still get a cavity—it will shorten the lifespan of your crown.
Myth #8: There’s nothing I can do about my gummy smile.
While a gummy smile might seem like a very difficult problem to solve, there are a couple of solutions available to you. If there are other issues you’d like to fix, such as crooked teeth or gaps, you may want to opt for veneers. Otherwise, you can solve a gummy smile with gum contouring, which removes some of the gum tissue until your smile shows a proportionate amount of your teeth.
Myth #9: The results will look fake.
A long time ago, this would have been true, but advances in technology have resulted in porcelain materials that look like real teeth. These materials come in a variety of colors, so you can have them made to match the shade of your existing teeth. Whether it’s a veneer or a crown, the result will be a natural and beautiful smile.
Myth #10: Cosmetic dentistry will take away my unique smile.
If you need cosmetic dentistry but love your smile, you don’t have to give it up. The great thing about cosmetic dentistry is that you get to choose what the results will look like. When you choose a veneer, for example, you choose the shape, size, and shade of the tooth. If you want to restore your beloved snaggletooth to its former glory, that’s entirely possible! If you need a dental crown but want to leave the adorable gap between your front teeth, that’s great too. Cosmetic dentistry is about giving you a healthy smile that you love, not giving you teeth off an assembly line.
Whether you’re self-conscious about your smile or simply need to restore a damaged tooth, there are a variety of cosmetic treatment options available. Cosmetic dentistry has changed a lot over the past few decades, and it will continue to do so; treatments will become more accessible, easier to undergo, and more durable. Throughout all these changes, though, the goal of cosmetic dentistry will remain the same: to keep helping patients attain smiles that are healthy and beautiful, each as unique as the individual who wears it.