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June 07 2011

The Increasing Use of Cosmetic Dentistry in Today’s Society

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Going to the dentist every six months for a teeth cleaning and regular checkup is more than a good idea – it’s an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to brushing and flossing regularly, routine dental visits help to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Increasingly, however, maintenance involves more than a biannual teeth cleaning. While aesthetic dental procedures have long been used to repair the appearance of teeth damaged in an accident or those that are naturally misshapen, many dentists nowadays offer a number of cosmetic options to enhance one’s smile.

A general dentist is one who cleans teeth, inspects the gums and provides a comprehensive assessment of oral health. More involved procedures include filling cavities, performing root canals, extracting teeth and fitting crowns. Dentists who want to perform advanced services such as root canals, orthodontic work or oral surgery must typically complete up to two additional years of training.

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Cosmetic dentistry is defined as techniques that help correct flaws and give people the confidence to smile their brightest. A beautiful smile is an eye-catching attribute. In today’s professional world, it is becoming increasingly important to have the ability to flash a bold, beautiful smile. Common aesthetic procedures include teeth whitening, teeth straightening, dental bonding and dental veneers, and many of these procedures can be performed by your regular dentist. Cosmetic procedures have become so common that most general dentists have taken the extended education necessary to be able to offer these services in their offices.

From strips that cost a few dollars to dental procedures that require special equipment and can cost you several hundred dollars, teeth whitening is probably the most common cosmetic procedure done. Straightening which traditionally required metal brackets and bands, can now be accomplished using nearly invisible, form-fitted inserts that slip over the teeth. The entire process has become so state-of-the-art that in either case, most people can have straight teeth within a year.

Dental bonding is used to fix crooked, chipped or stained teeth through the application of a resin to the tooth surface and hardening it with a special light. Bonding is a method for changing the appearance of teeth that is relatively simple and straightforward, and can generally be completed in one day.

Porcelain veneers are a considerably more durable material that usually require a minimum of two dental visits  because they are produced in special labs. Often at least some portion of the natural tooth must be ground down to make room for the porcelain shells. Veneers are preferred by most people because they last longer, tend to be more stain resistant, and are a better match to natural teeth. However, in the case of bonding or veneers, both materials will require replacement within most people’s lifetimes.

Sedation techniques are making it easier for more people to venture into some of the more extensive procedures. For those who fear injections, have sensitive teeth or who have problems being locally anesthetized, sleep dentistry is a great choice, both for general and cosmetic procedures.

Dental insurance rarely covers procedures that are strictly cosmetic, though some bonding to repair broken teeth, as well as installation of crowns is usually at least partly insured.

Cosmetic procedures should not be relied upon to repair damage caused by neglect. Regular twice a day brushing, flossing and routine check-ups are still the basics and help everyone keep their smiles looking the brightest and best.

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