The smile is one of the first things many people notice. For many, a face’s most obvious expression of joy is also a subject of worry. Luckily, cosmetic dentists around the area give you the best options to get your teeth looking perfect.
Cosmetic dentistry has become a sort of catch-all term for dentistry that deals with “smile design,” as Tulsa area dentist Dr. Andrew Carletti says. To put it simply, cosmetic dentists are general dentists that have learned cosmetic techniques to offer patients.
“You can’t specialize in cosmetic dentistry,” says Carletti. “It’s not a recognized area of dentistry.”
But that does not mean if your general dentist calls himself a “cosmetic dentist” that he or she is not an experienced professional. It’s just a good idea to make sure you are comfortable with your dentist and see before-and-after photos from previous patients.
“It’s like an analogy to a car repair place,” says Carletti. “Everyone can do a transmission, but sometimes you have to go somewhere that can specialize in transmissions.”
There are a variety of procedures under the umbrella of cosmetic dentistry. The two most common are veneers and whitening procedures.
Veneers are either porcelain or composite (a synthetic substance used for fillings) coverings that are placed directly over the existing teeth. These can be used to lengthen teeth appearance, give the appearance of bigger teeth and improve smile alignment.
Whitening is probably the most common way to affect a smile, be it through over-the-counter remedies or at a dentist’s office.
“The over-the-counter remedies are great for freshening up a smile,” says Dr. Chris Ward, a dentist with a practice in Owasso. “But they have a limited amount of the whitening solution in them.”
Whitening solutions used in most dentist’s offices are around 25 percent more concentrated than whitening strips bought at the drug store and therefore offer more immediate and lasting effects.
Many dentists offer tray bleaching, where the dentist will create custom trays for teeth with whitening solution to use at home. There are also more intensive methods that take place in a dentist’s office that will have a more immediate affect on teeth’s whiteness.
However, when it comes to teeth whitening, be careful of some homemade recipes and stick to only what a dentist recommends.
“Often, I hear about brushing with baking soda, and I’m very against that,” says Ward. “Just straight baking soda is very abrasive, and it’s a question of you removing tooth structure to get there.”
There are also some more creative ways to go about getting the perfect smile.
“One patient came in with a People magazine that had a picture of Jessica Alba on the cover,” says Carletti. “She said ‘I want my the teeth to look like that.’”
Using Photoshop, Carletti was able to help design the right smile for his patient using the magazine as base.
With new and classic technologies at their disposal, cosmetic dentists have made it even easier to ensure a patient’s smile will meet anyone’s standards for perfection.