One of the most common requests we receive at our practice is “I’d like to improve my smile.” Often people are looking to improve their smile just to boost self-confidence and other times it is to make sure they look great for a special event like a wedding. Depending on what you are looking to improve your smile and the time frame you would like it completed in, there are a number of different procedures.
Whitening tends to be the most easily accomplished and requested procedure for improving one’s smile. Just changing the shade of your teeth can often bring a whole new vibrancy and youthfulness to your smile! Most whitening cases start by taking impressions of your teeth, which are used to form stone models of your mouth. Using these models we will make trays fit specifically to the shape of your teeth to make sure your whitening gel stays put in the proper places. The trays are used over the course of a couple weeks and can be used again in the future for small touch-ups. Sometimes whitening can cause increased sensitivity that resolves once whitening is discontinued. During this time we often recommend using a toothpaste such as Sensodyne to make the whitening process more comfortable.
One issue to keep in mind with whitening is that it will only change the color of actual tooth structure. If you had large fillings or crowns on your front teeth the only way to change the color of those will be to replace them to match your other whitened teeth.
If your main concern is the positioning of your teeth such as gaps or overlapping of your teeth, orthodontics is often the best route. Whether it is traditional braces or Invisalign, an orthodontist can move your teeth into a straighter and more aesthetic position. The amount the teeth need to be moved and complexity of your case will determine if your teeth can be moved using Invisalign at our office or if you will require us to collaborate with a local orthodontist to achieve your desired smile. While orthodontics does require more time to complete than veneers or crowns, the great benefit is how conservative it is. Unless the shape of the teeth needs to be altered we typically do not need to grind down the teeth as we do in other procedures, meaning you keep all your healthy tooth structure. When we do need to alter the shape of your teeth we can combine orthodontics followed by porcelain veneers or composite bonding to get you the best smile possible.
Sometimes the main concern is the shape of your teeth such as chipped edges or an old stained filling. In order to fix these problems sometimes we can bond filling material onto your tooth to alter the shape and improve your smile. The great thing about bonding is like orthodontics it tends to be a very conservative procedure. Unless decay is present very little drilling or preparation of the teeth is involved. One thing that should be noted is that bonded fillings may pick up stain over time from things like cigarettes, coffee, and red wine. While this procedure can certainly still be done, if you use any of these products heavily the bonding may need to be redone down the road.
Porcelain veneers can give beautiful and natural looking results to teeth that either are discolored, mispositioned, misshaped or any combination of the above! While we are always as conservative as possible to keep all the healthy tooth structure that we can, veneers do require some tooth preparation. In order to minimize enamel removal, we may recommend orthodontics first to first align the teeth properly for certain cases.
Our veneer cases start with taking impressions of your mouth and photos so we can design your new smile. Your case will be sent to our local dental lab that will design your new smile in wax so you can see the finished result before we even start! Once we evaluate our smile goal together we will begin preparation of the teeth and create temporary veneers that you will wear while the permanent ones are crafted by the laboratory. When you return a few weeks later your permanent veneers will be cemented on and you will leave with a brand new smile!