Considering Cosmetic Dentistry? Here Are The Things You Should Consider

Jump to Section

The International Journal of Dental Clinics is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links.

Are you considering cosmetic dentisty to improve your smile? If so, you probably have a lot of questions about which cosmetic dentistry options are available to you and what to expect from the different types of procedures.

Smile makeovers are becoming increasingly popular and accessible. And why not? There are plenty of good reasons for wanting to improve your teeth and your smile, from the confident boost a straight, bright and even smile can give you, to the preventative effects of some cosmetic dental work in terms of preventing oral health issues from developing down the line.

In this article, we aim to provide you with an overview over the different types of cosmetic dentistry that are available, as well as the reasons to consider each of them.

Why you may need cosmetic dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is an umbrella term used to describe dental procedures undertaken to improve the appearance of a patient’s teeth. 

However, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between cosmetic and general dentistry, as many cosmetic dental procedures also improve the functioning of the teeth and therefore the patient’s overall oral health.

Still, a line is drawn where a cosmetic dental procedure is not strictly necessary and could be said to be purely or at least mostly for aesthetic reasons.

Whiten stained or yellow teeth

Over time, teeth are prone to becoming discoloured due to lifestyle habits including diet and detrimental habits like smoking and drinking alcohol.

Even if you are eating a healthy diet, natural sugars from fruit and tannins from tea and coffee stain and discolour your teeth over time.

If your teeth are discoloured, it doesn’t matter how healthy and straight they otherwise are – you are likely to feel self-conscious whenever you smile or laugh. Teeth whitening is not an expensive treatment, and is definitely worth pursuing so you can smile with greater confidence. 

Straighten crooked teeth

Crooked teeth may be caused by a number of different and sometimes overlapping factors, including genetics and habits such as thumb sucking.

Whatever the reason for your teeth being crooked, crowded or uneven, you should definitely consider orthodontic treatment to get them straightened. 

Needless to say, a straight smile always looks better, but crooked teeth can also lead to numerous much more serious oral and general health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay and even heart disease. Teeth straighten may seem like a purely cosmetic procedure, particularly if your teeth are not crooked enough to be interfering with your bite, your speech or your chewing, but orthodontic treatment can also be considered a preventative procedure, as crooked teeth can get worse over time.

Replace missing teeth

If you have any missing teeth, whether due to illness or accident, you should consider getting them replaced with implants. 

Not only will your smile look better without any teeth missing, implants can also help prevent tooth decay and stop the other teeth in your mouth from shifting due to the excess space available to them.

What cosmetic dentists offer

Cosmetic dentists specialise in cosmetic dental procedures. They tend to offer a range of procedures. Here are the most common procedures:

Teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is the quickest, least invasive and also least expensive cosmetic dentistry procedure.

Teeth whitening is a very simple process, one that you can do yourself at home or get done at a cosmetic dentist’s office – usually in just one visit.

Dental veneers and crowns

Dental veneers are only used for the front teeth. If you need the teeth at the back of your mouth improved in a similar way, the dentist will a dental crown instead.

Dental veneers are custom made shells of wafer thin porcelain. These ultra thin shells are bonded to the front surface of the teeth to improve their appearance and to protect them against wear and tear. Veneers are often used if the front teeth to protect and improve vulnerable and damaged teeth.

Much like a veneer, a dental crown is fashioned from porcelain or sometimes from composite resin. Instead of only being bonded to the tooth’s front surface, the crown covers the natural tooth and encapsulates it completely. Crowns are typically used after a general dentistry procedure, very often a root canal, has been carried out on the tooth. 

Crowns and veneers do not only give the patient a brighter smile by restoring the natural teeth, they also replace the function of damaged and missing teeth, allowing the patient to chew and use their teeth normally. For this reason, veneers and crowns are rarely considered purely cosmetic.

Dental implants

Dental implants are similar to veneers and crowns, but instead of only partially replacing the tooth, an implant replaces an entire tooth. 

Dental implants are rarely considered purely cosmetic. After all, it is better to have a complete set of teeth, so if any are missing whether due to decay, illness or and accident, dental implants may be considered a necessary procedure. 

In order to be able to install the implant in the patient’s mouth, the dentist first places a screw in the gums. The implant, which is usually either made from porcelain or composite materials, is then fastened to the screw. 

In some cases, the dentist may use a cantilever bridge, also called a Maryland bridge, may be used to replace several missing front teeth. Using a cantilever bridge is less invasive than placing each tooth on its own screw. However, it is important to note that bridges require a serious commitment to staying on top of your oral hygiene, as plaque and bacteria can very easily build up under and around them.

Gum lift surgery

Gum surgery can be carried out for a number of reasons. It is usually performed when the gums have receded due to gum disease, but in some cases a gum lift may be performed simply to give the patient a less gummy and therefore more appealing smile.

A gum lift involves the oral surgeon removing excess gum tissue in order to shorten the gumline. The effect is that less gum tissue is showing when the patient smiles.

Orthodontic treatments

Teeth straightening is a popular and very common form of cosmetic dentistry. In some cases, the patient may need teeth straightening to improve their bite or to prevent negative oral health outcomes, but in other cases where the misalignment is very minor and the orthodontic treatment is not strictly necessary, the patient may still choose to wear braces or clear aligners in order to perfect the alignment of their teeth.

There are two primarily orthodontic treatment options available today: Traditional braces and clear aligners, such as Invisalign or Smile Direct Club aligners. We recommend choosing clear aligners instead of braces, as they offer a quicker and much more discreet path to a perfectly straight smile.

Cosmetic dentistry FAQ

What is meant by cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is any dental procedure that is carried out for the purposes of improving the appearance of the teeth. Cosmetic dentistry procedures can include teeth whitening, teeth straightening, veneers and implants.

There is often a fine line between cosmetic and non-cosmetic dentistry, as procedures such as teeth straightening and replacing missing teeth with implants have a positive effect on both the appearance, the health and the functionality of the teeth. Many cosmetic dentistry procedures can also be considered preventative. For example, teeth straightening is helpful if you want to prevent the issues that can arise from having crooked or misaligned teeth, including gum disease, jaw pain and dental decay.

What is difference cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is any dental procedure that is carried out purely or primarily for cosmetic reasons. 

To illustrate, having yellow teeth is not necessarily an oral health risk (Although it can be a sign of poor oral health and hygiene), but it is definitely an aesthetic issue. Objectively speaking, having white and even teeth looks much more healthy and attractive than having yellow, chipped, uneven and missing teeth.

Final thoughts

Cosmetic dentistry procedures are always a good investment. 

Not only do cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening and teeth straightening improve the appearance of teeth, they also boost confidence and can greatly improve the way other people perceive you.

In addition to these purely aesthetic benefits, many cosmetic dental procedures – particularly orthodontic procedures, veneers and implants – can also help improve and protect the oral health of the patient. Missing or crooked teeth can lead to all sorts of serious health issues, ranging from gum disease to tooth decay and tooth loss. 

The only downside to cosmetic dentistry procedures is that your insurance may not cover them all. In many cases, teeth straightening is covered by insurance, but if your teeth are already rather straight and you are only after minor improvements to get them perfect, you might have to pay out of your own pocket. The same goes for teeth whitening.

Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry procedures are not urgent, so you can take your time putting aside the money the procedures you want are going to cost. It is always worth it doing your research and selecting the best cosmetic dentist in your area to ensure optimal results.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.