What’s up with Cosmetic Dentistry?

Publication: Montana Woman’s Magazine

Dentistry has been described as an art and a science. This is especially true in the case of cosmetic, or esthetic dentistry. The recent trends in dentistry have expanded the dental healthcare delivery model towards healthcare with elective treatment options and even purely elective treatment. A discussion with your dentist will help you decide the direction of your care. My philosophy is to choose the direction that reduces risk, and improves health and esthetics. I will explain this with a few examples.

Elective procedures are optional from the health perspective of the tooth. Please don’t confuse these with treatment that is good for the health of the teeth and improve the looks at the same time. For example, your son just took a baseball in the teeth. One got knocked out, one broke above the gum, and the ones beside these had stained fillings and are slightly rotated. These teeth are candidates for elective treatment, while the missing and broken ones are healthcare issues. A competent dentist may or may not recommend using this occasion to not only repair the smile, but enhance it. Simple porcelain veneers on the stained rotated teeth, could match up color of the porcelain on the repaired teeth to create a harmonious attractive smile. I think we have all seen people with repaired front teeth that did not blend in with the others. Frequently cost is an issue in the decision. When you think of the long term, being confident with your smile is remembered long after the money is spent.

The benefits of cosmetic dentistry are evident in our Extreme Makeover shows. These people have new confidence and improved self images, after all is done, and usually the biggest contribution is the smile. The emotional benefits and impact of an attractive smile are hard to measure. There are other benefits as well, to a properly restored smile.

My father, a retired orthodontist, has incessantly remarked to me, (and I will paraphrase out of consideration to my readers), that form follows function. What he means is that when the teeth are working as nature designed, the result is naturally attractive. If I had a choice between being prettier and being able to chew, I would settle for ugly! If I could be prettier, and be able to chew better with less jaw problems or tooth pain, the choice is easy. There is a lot more to the smile than the front teeth. Chewing is the first step of digestion, where the salivary enzymes mix with and prepare the food for the stomach. You won’t be smiling much if your indigestion causes reflux that accelerates erosion of your front teeth as they wear excessively from chewing with them. We can get by with less than 100% of our teeth, but we need back teeth for support and protection of the front ones.

Technology has elevated the art and science of dentistry to new levels, and it is a constant learning process to keep up with the information. In the past 10 years dentistry has changed more than it did in the preceding 50 years. The next 10 years will be another acceleration of technology. It’s like a reaction that progresses exponentially! What this means to you, the patient, is that there are trained doctors, willing and able to comfortably restore your smile and bite, to an attractive and functional result. When you deny yourself this opportunity it may mean years of embarrassment, discomfort, not smiling, not eating or chewing properly and hiding your teeth when you laugh. The benefits of cosmetic dentistry have enhanced the lives of many, and the kicker is, if it is well done, no one can tell it isn’t natural. Make sure you align your expectations with what your chosen doctor can do with your individual situation. Doing your part in being committed to the program is essential to its success, and remember to keep up the maintenance. I have never had a patient regret their decision after completing the entire treatment plan. It is our goal to provide a long lasting dependable result that minimizes risk to the health of our patients. It is our greatest pleasure to see a smile transformed into a work of art that will enhance the lives of the patient and everyone he or she smiles at!