Innovative technology has led to a wide selection of great cosmetic treatments, allowing patients to regain both the functionality and the beauty of their smiles—sometimes in just a single visit! However, the variety of different options can be confusing, especially with the conflicting information that sometimes appears on the internet. Here are the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions.

How do I find the right cosmetic dentist for me?

A great way to start your search for a cosmetic dentist is to ask for recommendations from your friends and family or to look at online reviews of dentists near you. Once you’ve narrowed your search down, the best way to choose one is to schedule consultations with a few of them. Ask questions about their qualifications, what treatment they would recommend for you, and ask to look at before and after photos of treatments similar to what you’re hoping to receive.

This will give you a good idea of that cosmetic dentist’s specialty and their personality. Since you want to love the long-term results of your treatment, you want to find an experienced dentist who you can trust. It’s perfectly normal to shop around for a cosmetic dentist that fits your qualifications.

What kinds of problems can cosmetic dentistry solve?

Cosmetic dentistry can fix a host of problems, both minor and major. If you have a gummy smile or teeth that are stained, damaged, decayed, or missing, you can turn to cosmetic dentistry for a solution. Even if you have a host of complex dental issues that need to be treated, cosmetic dentistry can give your smile a completely new appearance and renewed functionality.

Are the treatments completely aesthetic?

Some cosmetic dentistry treatments, such as teeth whitening, only have cosmetic benefits, but plenty of other treatments have real benefits to your oral health. When you lose a tooth, your remaining teeth tend to shift into the gap left by the missing tooth, making chewing more difficult and putting your teeth at risk for decay and gum disease. By filling that gap, bridges and implants keep your teeth where they belong and protect them. Implants work double duty, stimulating your jawbone to prevent the bone loss that is caused by losing a tooth. Even veneers, which are commonly applied to patients’ teeth for cosmetic purposes, can work to protect teeth where they have cracked, chipped, or the enamel has worn thin. While all cosmetic treatments do improve or restore the appearance of your smile, many of them also improve, restore, and protect its function as well.

How do I fix my gummy smile?

Since gummy smiles are usually caused by an excess of gum tissue that partially obscures the teeth, your gummy smile can be easily fixed through a procedure called gum contouring or gum reshaping. Your dentist will reshape your gums using a laser to remove the excess gum tissue and expose your teeth. Once healed, your smile will have a better teeth-to-gums ratio, giving you a natural smile you can be proud of.

Will I always need a crown on a broken tooth?

The treatment required for a broken tooth depends upon how badly the tooth is broken. If it is very minor, you can quickly and easily repair it with dental bonding. This is an easy and cost-effective solution that will probably only take about 30 minutes. It uses a tooth-colored resin, which is matched in color and gloss to that of your natural tooth, to cover the broken part of your tooth and restore it to its original shape. Dental bonding usually needs to be replaced every three to 10 years. You can also use a veneer to cover a relatively minor break. This is a longer process and costs more, but it will last about 15 years without needing to be replaced if it is cared for well. If the break is bad, however, you will likely need a crown in order to protect the sensitive root from bacteria and infection.

What do I do if professional whitening won’t affect the stains on my teeth?

Unfortunately, there are stains that professional tooth whitening treatments can’t fix. Often, these stains are acquired in early childhood or result from certain antibiotics, an injury to the tooth during its development, or too much fluoride exposure. Other stains acquired during adulthood, such as dark brown stains, may not respond well to teeth whitening treatments.

In such cases, dental veneers or dental bonding are the best ways to rid yourself of the stain. Veneers are a thin layer of porcelain that is adhered to your natural teeth; you can get a single veneer to cover up one stained tooth, or you can transform your smile with multiple veneers. Since they are completely customizable, you’re able to choose their shape and size, and they are matched to your natural teeth in gloss and color, making them indistinguishable from the surrounding teeth. If you’re looking for a less expensive or less permanent option, however, dental bonding can also be used to cover up the stains. Your dentist can simply apply a tooth-colored resin over the stained part of your teeth.

What are veneers used to treat?

Veneers are a versatile cosmetic treatment that can be used to treat many dental issues. They largely treat problems with the teeth themselves, working to protect and improve the appearance of teeth that have chipped, cracked, broken slightly, or have thin enamel. They also cover stained or strangely-shaped teeth in order to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

In some cases, such as when one or two teeth are crooked or a smile is only slightly crooked, veneers can serve as an alternative to braces. They do this by making the teeth appear straighter, saving patients the time and money investment that braces involve. It’s important to note, however, that because veneers don’t actually straighten your teeth, they won’t solve problems with bite alignment or headaches related to your crooked teeth.

Will tooth whitening treatments lighten my crowns or veneers?

Tooth whitening will not lighten your crowns or veneers. If you aren’t happy with the shade of your teeth, it’s important to get a professional whitening treatment before you get a crown, veneer, or similar treatment. When you’re getting a crown, for example, the porcelain material is matched to the current color of your teeth, allowing it to blend in and look natural. If you whiten your teeth after it’s been installed, the crown will stand out against your whiter natural teeth.

Will my insurance cover my treatment?

Whether or not your dental insurance covers a treatment depends upon what treatment you’re getting and what your individual company’s policy is. Most companies will help pay for a dental crown, for example, as the procedure is considered restorative, but many won’t help pay for an implant or a whitening treatment.

While deciding what treatment is right for you can be difficult, there are plenty of resources to help you decide what treatment delivers the kinds of results you would like to see. Before you get your heart set on a particular treatment, however, it’s a great idea to set up a consultation with a few dentists They can show you before and after photographs of patients who had similar treatments, allowing you to see what the end result will look like, and advise you on what kind of treatment is right for you.