5 Ways You and Your Dentist Can Improve Your Smile
Are you happy with your smile? Almost every adult in America, as many as 99.7% according to an AACD survey, believes that a healthy smile is socially important. Of course, brushing and flossing keep teeth healthy, and healthy teeth make a healthy smile. But there are other ways you and your dentist can improve your smile. Here are five suggestions:
Keep Your Regular Appointments
At the risk of sounding like your mother, one of the best ways to improve your smile is to visit your family dentist every six months. During these regularly scheduled appointments, the dentist can examine your teeth and gums. Your dentist can head off any potential problems before they evolve into something that will require major work and impact your smile. For example, if your dentist spots signs of teeth grinding, or bruxism, he or she can fit you with a mouth guard before the grinding causes severe damage to your teeth and jaw requiring dental crowns, root canals, or tooth extractions.
Moreover, your regular appointment is the time for preventative dental care. A dental hygienist will clean your teeth. In the case of children, a pediatric dentist may recommend dental sealants and topical fluoride treatment. These routine visits will go a long way to keeping your smile healthy.
Stained teeth are usually the result of tobacco use, either smoked or chewed, and drinks, such as coffee, tea, wine, and cola. Even when you cease using these products, teeth stains can persist.
In-office teeth whitening can improve the appearance of stained teeth. By one measure, in-office teeth whitening can whiten teeth by about two to seven shades lighter than home systems. When performed by a cosmetic dentist, teeth are whitened by applying a bleaching agent to the teeth and activating that bleaching agent with heat, ultraviolet light, or a laser. The treatment usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes and usually produces results that can be seen immediately.
Dental veneers are thin porcelain wafers that are bonded to the surface of teeth to improve their appearance. Dental veneers are usually used for teeth that are discolored, misshapen, or chipped. In some cases, dental veneers can also be used to cover a small tooth gap.
To apply dental veneers, the surface of the tooth is prepared by removing some enamel from the surface of the tooth to accommodate the veneer. Impressions and photos are taken of the teeth so that custom dental veneers can be manufactured. When the dentist receives your dental veneers, he or she prepares the tooth and bonds the veneer to the tooth’s surface. After bonding, some additional shaping may be performed to correct the fit and look of the veneer.
Dental implants, by themselves, may not correct a problem with your smile. However, dental implants can be used to hold replacements for one or more missing or extracted teeth.
Dental implants include two parts. A post is implanted into your jaw to serve as a replacement for the root of the tooth. After implantation, the jaw bone is allowed to heal and grow around the post for six to twelve weeks before an abutment is attached to the post. The abutment sticks out of the post and serves to hold a crown to replace the missing tooth. If multiple teeth are missing, two dental implants may be installed to hold the ends of a dental bridge that replaces multiple teeth.
Teeth aligners, such as Invisalign braces, can be used to correct spacing and alignment of teeth. The process of getting Invisalign braces begins with photographs, X-rays, and impressions of your teeth. These are used to create a three-dimensional computer model of your teeth. Your dentist works with Invisalign’s technicians to determine where each tooth needs to be moved to straighten your teeth.
Once the treatment plan is established, a series of clear plastic aligners is manufactured using 3-D printing techniques. Each of these Invisalign braces is worn for two to four weeks before it is replaced with the next aligner. The series of Invisalign braces slowly moves your teeth so they are straight and evenly spaced.
There are many ways to improve your smile including preventative dental care, teeth whitening, dental veneers, dental implants, and Invisalign braces.