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Cosmetic dentistry - can it fix your smile?

While visiting a dentist was earlier viewed as an extremely unpleasant ordeal, nowadays people are thronging to visit them to get their teeth beautified. Cosmetic dentistry any dental work that helps to improve the appearance has gained widespread popularity says Dr Sandesh Mayekar, a renowed dentist. So how does it work and is it really necessary?

While most cosmetic procedures are optional there are certain cases that warrant a cosmetic correction. Gaps between the teeth, yellow or stained teeth, crowded teeth, a gummy smile and chipped or cracked teeth can all be corrected by this process.

How it works?

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According to Dr Mayekar , first dentists need to figure out the plan of treatment. This is done by first understanding what the problem is with their smile or teeth structure. In every case a mock up is done, where a photograph of the person's mouth is taken before, and a mock up is done in the mouth.

Another simulated picture is generated to show what they might look like after the treatment. This can even be done by taking impressions of the teeth and showing a mock up on a mould of the person's jaw. In the earlier days there was a method called 'digital mock up', this has now been discontinued because it is not always possible to show the patient a computer-generated simulated picture. In order to correct the various smile defects the following procedures are used:

Teeth whitening: Discoloration of teeth can happen because of two reasons; either due to ageing where the teeth naturally become yellow or due to stains that are caused due to chewing tobacco, smoking or other factors. For such people, their teeth are first cleaned and then a procedure called teeth whitening is performed.

This is a procedure where bleach is used to whiten the teeth. Bleaching is the use of hydrogen peroxide, in varied concentrations, to whiten the teeth. One should remember that the enamel is not affected by bleaching, but bleaching lasts only for about 6-8 months. Often a 'maintenance dose' is given so it can be easily maintained at home and the results last longer. It is a non-invasive and a superficial method which helps whiten the teeth.

Use of Veneers or Laminates: In some cases people's teeth become very dark, either due to certain medications or a phenomenon called root canal teeth (where the teeth become black from the inside). These are dark brown to bluish teeth that cannot be treated with bleach. For such a case, laminate or veneers are preferred. Usually these terms are used interchangeably but by definition laminates are those that provide no change in colour but has a in shape and size. Veneers are those that can provide a change in colour with or without a change in shape and size. Therefore in the case of a discoloured tooth it is advisable to place a veneer. This veneer is then matched with the shape and colour of the other teeth to give it a natural look and feel. This is a minimally invasive procedure.

Braces: In some cases there are either gaps in the teeth or overlapping of teeth. It is then advisable to use braces to correct the defect. Braces are a set of wires installed into the mouth which help to make the teeth straight. In some cases where the size of the teeth and the jaw is misaligned, a combination of braces and veneers are used.

Maintenance of a cosmetic dental procedure:

A cosmetic procedure requires to be maintained. Since it is a foreign body and can be affected easier than natural teeth, a good regime to maintain the dental procedure is essential. Here are a few tips on maintaining dental procedure well:

  • Brushing: Use a soft brush for brushing. Run the brush along the teeth in smooth and soft movements. Do not be too harsh on your teeth as Dr Mayekar quips that a toothbrush should be used like a paint brush, it is only meant to remove superficial debris.
  • Avoid eating anything hard and sticky: The doctor strongly advices against eating anything hard or sticky like toffees or chikki. Since these foods are hard it may cause harm to your teeth.
  • Quit smoking or chewing tobacco: Tobacco chewing and smoking cause teeth to become stained very quickly. After a bleaching procedure or any other cosmetic dental procedure, smoking or chewing tobacco can cause undo all the good the procedure achieves.

A cosmetic dental procedure can give you that perfect smile you envisioned but remembe, it is essential to follow the doctor's orders to keep them looking good for a long time to come.

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