The importance of diagnosis and treatment planning prior to any procedure cannot be over-emphasized, remembering that oral health and function are integral to successful esthetic dentistry.
Aesthetic dentistry has transformed patients’ perspectives of dentistry tremendously. In the past, the dental visit was associated with fear and pain. Once aesthetic dentistry came into vogue, people realized how painless bonding was and how beautiful the results could be. To achieve success in esthetic dentistry, the clinician needs to possess both technical and artistic skills, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the different treatment modalities and materials available. As in other areas of dentistry, treatment planning is paramount, and must include a comprehensive history and assessment of the patient that includes informed consent to the procedures being proposed.
Is it the same as cosmetic dentistry? Well, yes and no. The terms can be somewhat interchangeable and maybe even a bit ambiguous. But the word “cosmetic” suggests something a bit more superficial or “not substantive”. That’s not always the case with aesthetic dentistry, which we can think of as dealing with restoring overall beauty, or even completeness to our teeth and mouth.
The field of aesthetic dentistry includes a number of different services, including:
- Teeth whitening - Our teeth may become stained or discolored due to a variety of causes. Some of these are smoking or use of other tobacco products, foods, beverages, and use of certain medications. There are plenty of over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments available, but the professional methods used by dentist are more efficient and more powerful.
- Dental Implants - Whether you’ve lost a tooth due to an accident or due to tooth decay, chances are that you’d rather have it back. No one likes to smile when doing so will reveal a space where a tooth used to be. And, moving past the cosmetic aspect, missing molars, for example, make it difficult to eat. Your dentist can give you an implant which screws into the bone tissue, and attach a crown on top of that, giving you a new tooth with is visually and functionally as good or better than the one that you lost.
- Dental Bonding - If you’ve broken, but not completely lost a tooth, your dentist may recommend the aesthetic dentistry practice of dental bonding. This uses a resin material which is tooth colored to rebuild your tooth, restoring its functionality and leaving your mouth looking as good as new.
- Dental Veneers - Veneers are thin overlays of a hard material like porcelain, designed to fit over your teeth. They can improve the color, size, shape, and even the strength of your existing teeth. They can provide a vast improvement to your smile, without requiring any changes to the existing structure of your natural teeth.
It may also involve:
- the addition of a dental material to teeth or gums – examples: bonding, porcelain veneers (laminates), crowns (caps), gum grafts
- the removal of tooth structure or gums – examples: enameloplasty, gingivectomy
- neither adding nor removing dental materials, tooth structure, or gums – examples: teeth whitening (bleaching), laser whitening, gum depigmentation
- straightening of teeth accompanied by improvement in appearance of face – orthodontics
- veneers, dental laminates - conservative
The advent of adhesive dentistry has allowed restorative treatment utilizing a conservative, minimally invasive and sometimes no-preparation technique. This has revolutionized dentistry, as has the continuing development of dental materials that improve both esthetic and long-term outcomes.