Cosmetic Dentistry

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The term "cosmetic dentistry" is used by the public and dental profession to refer to dental work that improves the appearance and function of a person's teeth.

Fields

General dentistry
Many general dentists call themselves as "cosmetic dentists" regardless of their specific education, training and experience in this field. In addition, there are certain ADA recognized specialty areas, most notable Prosthodontics and Orthodontics, which are distinct disciplines from cosmetic dentistry but which may overlap with some aspects of cosmetic dentistry.

Prosthodontics
According to the ADA, prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes. Prosthodontics and dentists who have these additional 3 years of training are called Prosthodontists.

Orthodontics
According to the ADA, orthodontics is the dental specialty that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures. Orthodontics and dentists who have these additional 3 years of training are called Orthodontists.

Common cosmetic dental treatment options

Whitening, or "tooth bleaching", is the most common cosmetic dental procedure. While many whitening options are now available, including over the counter products, dentist-supervised treatments remain the recommended procedures for lightening discolored teeth.

Enamel shaping removes parts of the contouring enamel to improve the appearance of the tooth. It may be used to correct a very small chip. The removed enamel is irreplaceable, and may sometimes expose dentin. It is also known as enameloplasty, odontoplasty, recontouring, reshaping, slenderizing and stripping.

Contouring, also known as tooth reshaping, is one of few instant treatments now available in cosmetic dentistry. Dental reshaping and contouring is a procedure to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or even overlapping teeth in just one session. The dental contouring procedure can even be a substitute for braces under certain circumstances. It is also a procedure of subtle changes. A few millimeters of reduction and a few millimeters of tooth-colored laminate is involved. Tooth reshaping, or dental contouring, is commonly used to alter the length, shape or position of teeth.

Bonding is a process in which an enamel-like dental composite material is applied to a tooth's surface, sculpted into shape, hardened and then polished.

Dental bridges are false teeth, known as a pontics, which are fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. The two crowns holding it in place that are attached onto your teeth on each side of the false tooth. This is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth as you might do with removable partial dentures. In areas of your mouth that are under less stress, such as your front teeth, a cantilever bridge may be used. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space. Bridges can reduce your risk of gum disease, help correct some bite issues and even improve your speech. Bridges require your commitment to serious oral hygiene, but will last as many as ten years or more.

Veneers are ultra-thin, custom-made porcelain laminates that are bonded directly to the teeth. They are an option for closing gaps or disguising discolored teeth that do not respond well to whitening procedures. Depending on the procedure, tooth reduction may be necessary.

Gum lift is a cosmetic dental procedure that raises and sculpts the gum line. The procedure involves reshaping the tissue and/or underlying bones to create the appearance of longer or more symmetrical teeth.

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