Cosmetic Dentistry

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Dentistry in today’s world is no longer simply a case of filling and extracting teeth. Nowadays, many people turn to cosmetic dentistry, which includes any procedure that improves the overall look of their smile, to enhance their appearance. This section provides information about the different cosmetic dentistry treatments available.

Cosmetic treatments can be used to straighten, lighten, reshape and repair teeth. The range of procedures available include bonding and veneers to correct or improve teeth; dentures, bridges and implants to replace missing teeth; dental crowns, used to cover teeth to restore them to their normal shape and size; tooth contouring and reshaping to alter the length, shape, or position of teeth; as well as tooth whitening, to lighten teeth and help to remove stains and discolouration. Cosmetic dentistry also involves gum contouring surgery, performed to correct gummy smiles, uneven gum lines and exposed roots.

For those who are looking for more information about orthodontic treatments worn to straighten and realign teeth, such as braces and retainers, see the section Orthodontic Care.

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Woman having her teeth whitenedDental Bonding and Veneers

Both dental bonding and veneers are procedures which can correct or improve teeth that:

  • Have spaces between them
  • Have become worn, chipped or broken
  • Are permanently stained
  • Are crooked or poorly shaped

Veneers are thin, custom-made shells designed to cover the front side of teeth. Veneers are made of tooth-coloured porcelain, and are based on an impression of your teeth taken by your dentist. They are shaped and coloured to correspond to the existing teeth.

Inserting veneers is usually an irreversible process, because it's necessary to remove a small amount of enamel from your teeth to accommodate the shell. Veneers are bonded onto the front surface of each tooth using a chemical bonding agent, after which a beam of light helps to further secure it to your tooth. A small amount of drilling may also be used to curve the contours of the veneers.

Bonding, on the other hand, is a procedure where tooth-coloured resin fillings are bonded directly to the surface of your teeth. The dentist can usually do this procedure in a single office visit. Unlike veneers, dental bonding can be removed and replaced if they eventually discolour. Bonded resins are also simple to re-polish.

While dental bonding can last for several years, it is more likely than veneers to chip or become stained. Porcelain is a very hard, wear resistant, non-porous material that will keep its appearance far longer than tooth coloured resins.

Dentures, Bridges and Implants

Dentures, bridges and implants all provide solutions for replacing missing teeth.

  • Dentures: A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available: complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain. Partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth.
  • Bridges: Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, a bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth and literally “bridges” the gap where one or more teeth used to be. Unlike dentures, which you can take out and clean, a fixed bridge can only be removed by a dentist. According to the British Dental Health Foundation , bridges are ideal for people who don't like dentures and only have one or two teeth missing. Bridges can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials and are attached to surrounding teeth for support.
  • Implants: Implants offer a long-term solution for replacing missing teeth, but are one of the more involved and expensive cosmetic dentistry procedures. They are an alternative to bridges – which use adjacent teeth as anchors, and to removable dentures – which rest on your gums. Implants are titanium rods, which are surgically placed into the jawbone and act as anchors for fastening artificial teeth onto. Implants more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. 

Dental Crowns

Crowns, also called caps, completely cover a tooth to restore its normal shape and size. A crown can make your tooth stronger as well improve its appearance. You may need a crown to:

  • Cover a badly-shaped or discoloured tooth
  • Protect a weak tooth from breaking
  • Restore a chipped, broken or worn tooth
  • Cover a tooth with a large filling, when there isn’t enough tooth remaining to hold the filling
  • Hold a dental bridge in place
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a tooth that's had a root canal procedure

In most cases, it takes two visits to receive a permanent crown. In the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth for fitting a crown. Fitting a crown usually involves shaping the tooth under local anaesthetic and then taking an impression using a rubber-like material. The impression of the tooth and shade to be used are sent to the laboratory, so the crown can be built to individual prescription by a technician. The dentist will provide you with a temporary crown while the permanent one is being made.

On the second visit, which usually takes place two weeks after the first, the temporary crown will be removed and permanent crown placed. If taken care of well, permanent crowns can have a very long life. They can be made of a variety of different materials, such as porcelain or porcelain bonded to gold or metal. New materials are being introduced all the time, so it is a good idea to talk to your dentist about which crown would be best for you.

If you are looking for a dentist, we have provided list of Dentists in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and wider United Arab Emirates. 

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Woman with Perfect Teeth and Smile

Tooth Contouring and Reshaping

Tooth contouring and reshaping is a great way to correct minor imperfections in your smile and improve the overall appearance of your teeth. It involves removing or contouring dental enamel to alter the length, shape, or position of teeth, and most regularly used to fix:

  • Slightly crooked or overlapping teeth
  • Chipped and irregular teeth
  • Shallowly pitted surfaces and worn edges in the teeth
  • Minor bite problems

Using various tools, the dentist polishes off small areas of the tooth surface enamel and reshapes the tooth into a more attractive shape. All of the teeth surrounding the newly shaped tooth are then smoothed and polished to complete the procedure. After contouring, the teeth should be more uniform in shape and size, eliminating any eye-catching imperfections. According to the Cosmetic Dentistry Guide , tooth contouring and reshaping often takes place in one visit to the dentist’s office, although a follow-up visit may sometimes be required. The length of the procedure depends on the amount of changes that are being made to the teeth, but can range between 15 minutes to over an hour. Because only surface enamel is removed, there is no pain involved during the procedure and no healing required once the procedure is over.

Gum Contouring Surgery

Do your gums rest too high or too low on your teeth, making you self-conscious about your smile? Or perhaps your gums cover too much of some teeth while leaving the others the right length? If so, you may be a candidate for gum contouring surgery. Also called gum reshaping, gum contouring surgery is a cosmetic dental procedure used to correct:

  • Gummy smiles: Gums that cover a large portion of your teeth can make your teeth look too short and your smile too gummy. This is often caused by genetic factors, but can also be due to certain health conditions or as a side-effect of some high blood pressure medication.
  • Uneven gum line: An uneven gum line is when your gums appear too high or too low on your teeth in comparison to each other. It can make the teeth appear to have different lengths, which often takes away from the appearance of an attractive smile.
  • Long teeth/Exposed roots: Gums that are too high and make your teeth appear long are often caused by gum recession, a condition in which gum tissue pulls back from a tooth and exposes the tooth's root. The American Academy of Periodontology maintains that this recession can happen as a result of a variety of causes, including periodontal diseases.

Gum contouring surgery is performed in the dentist's office and can be completed in one visit. Currently, dentists can use scalpels, lasers, and radiosurgery to perform the gum contouring procedure. You will need to discuss with your dentist the technique which would best suit your situation. The cost of gum contouring also depends on the extent of the work being done. A local anesthetic may be applied to numb the area. The procedure is not painful, but some mild discomfort can be expected a day or two after the procedure.  

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Woman Teeth Whitening Before and AfterAmong the most popular cosmetic dental procedures, tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discolouration. Most dentists use an in-office and/or at-home whitening system to achieve the desired results:

  • In-office whitening: In-office whitening allows your dentist to use a more powerful whitening gel. The dentist will carefully apply the gel to your teeth and use a specialised light or laser to activate the gel for fast bleaching. According to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine , in-office whitening usually takes 30 to 90 minutes. One to three appointments may be needed depending on the method used, how severe your stains are and the shade you want your teeth to be. Different types of stains respond differently to the treatment. This technique is not common and is usually expensive.
  • At-home whitening: For at-home whitening, your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth and will make custom mouthpiece trays to fit you. The trays need to fit well so that the whitening agent remains in close contact with your teeth. At home, you will fill each tray with a safe-strength whitening gel your dentist provides. The tray is worn for a period of time, generally from a couple of hours a day to every night for up to four weeks or even longer. However, many people achieve the amount of whitening they want within a week or two. The American Dental Association maintains that home treatment is the most popular and least expensive method. Sometimes dentists will kick-start the whitening in the office with high-strength bleach gels in the trays, then ask you to follow with home treatments.

Tooth whitening is not recommended for everyone so your dentist will assess suitability during an initial consultation. If you have gum disease or other dental health problems, you may not be suitable. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best, rather than those who have a grey tone to their teeth. The tooth whitening process does not change the colour of crowns, veneers or fillings so it is important to understand that you may also need to change these to match the colour of your whitened teeth.

Whitening is unlikely to cause serious side effects, although some people may find that their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after the treatment. The symptoms are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing.

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