Smiling and laughing are some of the most common ways we express ourselves every day – but some people feel too self-conscious to show their teeth. This can prevent people from socialising the way they want to and enjoying their lives with full confidence.
Most people would agree that uniform teeth and symmetrical smiles are more attractive, which is why cosmetic dentistry is more popular than ever. These procedures can give you a straight, white, and even smile, and can help with non-cosmetic dental issues at the same time.
If you’re unhappy with your smile and it’s affecting your quality of life, then cosmetic dentistry could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Here are 7 ways that cosmetic dentistry in London can improve the appearance of your smile.
Teeth whitening for a brighter smile
You may be satisfied with the shape of your teeth and the structure of your smile, but not the colour. Common habits like drinking coffee and red wine, smoking, or eating certain pigmented foods can lead to stains and yellowing of the teeth over time.
Professional teeth whitening is one of the most popular options for cosmetic dentistry. It’s a fairly quick and non-invasive procedure that’s ideal when you don’t need to correct misalignment, chips, or other issues besides the colour.
There are typically two ways to get your teeth whitened professionally. The first is to undergo an in-chair whitening procedure at the dental office, which achieves strong results much faster than the second option. This involves receiving an at-home tooth whitening kit with custom mouth trays and prescription whitening gel, which you have to use daily for around a week.
These highly regulated methods are much safer and more effective than whitening products you can buy online, which can either be too weak to actually whiten your teeth, or so strong that they risk causing pain and even damaging your enamel and gums.
When you go to a cosmetic dentist for professional whitening, they can customise your treatment to the particular shade you’re aiming for, and advise you on how to maintain the results for as long as possible before you would need a top-up treatment.
Veneers to cover stained or damaged teeth
If you have otherwise healthy teeth that have a slight chip or crack, irreversible discolouration or an awkward gap, then dental veneers could be the solution. Veneers are thin shell-like layers of custom-shaped porcelain or ceramic that are bonded to the surface of the teeth.
Placing a veneer over a tooth not only helps to disguise cosmetic issues underneath but also helps to strengthen and protect the tooth to reduce the risk of further damage. Veneers are applied individually, so you could treat a single problem tooth or multiple.
Being customised to the opacity and colour of your other teeth, well-fitted veneers look completely natural. Best of all, you don’t have to sacrifice any unique qualities of your smile that you might want to keep, as veneers don’t have to change the shape of your teeth.
However, it’s important to remember that getting veneers is an irreversible procedure. It involves shaving down the surface of the tooth a little to provide more space and a better surface for the veneer to adhere to, meaning that once you’ve had veneers, you can never go back to exposing your natural teeth underneath them.
It typically takes 1–2 appointments to complete the dental veneer procedure. The process involves removing a layer from the surface of the tooth or teeth and then taking an impression to mould the veneers perfectly. Once the veneers are ready, they will be cemented to your teeth using a light exposure method to harden the bonding material.
Veneers should look and function like normal teeth, and be cared for accordingly. With proper oral hygiene, dental veneers can last for 10–15 years.
Composite bonding to disguise minor imperfections
If you’re looking for a fast fix for a small cosmetic flaw in a tooth, composite bonding in London is a cost-effective alternative to the permanent investment of dental veneers. Dental bonding can correct chips, fill in gaps, and reshape teeth to make them uniform with the rest of your smile.
Whether you want a tooth to be more rounded or square, composite bonding can correct chips and gaps, cover discoloured spots, and contour teeth to the exact shape and size you want. It involves bonding a tooth-coloured resin to the surface of the affected tooth.
It can usually be done in just one appointment, with the cosmetic dentist slightly etching the tooth to give the composite material something to adhere to, before shaping the resin by hand. The material is then cured with UV light to secure it to the tooth, and the surface is buffed to achieve a natural-looking shine that matches the rest of your teeth.
Since the resin is carefully colour-matched to the tooth and shaped by hand, composite bonding blends in so well that it will be difficult for anyone to spot. Having evenly shaped and evenly spaced teeth makes it easier to clean them properly, thereby improving your oral health.
That said, composite bonding doesn’t last as long as traditional veneers, and can stain just as easily as your natural teeth. You’ll have to be more vigilant about what you eat and drink and how often you floss and brush to prevent discolouration.
If you look after the composite bonding properly, it should last between 4–8 years before it needs to be replaced. This reversible treatment is a good choice if you aren’t sure about committing to permanent veneers.
Crowns and bridges to restore teeth and fill gaps
Dental crowns, also known as dental caps, are used to restore decayed or broken teeth in a more permanent way than fillings. Typically made from a mix of porcelains or ceramics and metals, these caps can be installed on the top of lower teeth or the bottom of upper teeth to restore their appearance and functionality.
If you get a crown, it will be customised to your specific tooth, in terms of both the shape and size and colour. Even if there is just one worn-down or damaged tooth affecting your smile, something as simple as a crown can quickly correct this issue while protecting your tooth from further decay and injury at the same time.
To make a crown, your dentist will make a mould of the tooth, and provide a temporary crown to cover the tooth until your second appointment, when the permanent crown is ready to be fitted. When looked after appropriately, a dental crown can last for up to 15 years.
If you have a missing tooth that’s left a gap, or multiple missing teeth, this can lead to your remaining teeth shifting, which can affect your smile even more. A dental bridge can help to fill the gap and keep your teeth in place, giving you a full smile again.
Dental bridges are made using a ‘bridge’ of two dental crowns connected to one or two prosthetic teeth in between. The crowns are fitted to the teeth on either side of the gap, and the prosthetic tooth or teeth sit comfortably in the middle to fill in the gap.
This normally involves filing down the two healthy teeth on either side of the gap. Once you have a dental bridge fitted, you’ll have to keep replacing the bridge every 5–10 years.
Dental implants to replace missing teeth
If you’ve lost a tooth due to decay or injury resulting in total extraction, and you want a more permanent solution than a bridge, dental implants are an excellent long-term solution. These are artificial teeth made from a titanium root and a porcelain or ceramic crown.
As the name suggests, dental implants are inserted into the gum, with the titanium root implanted directly into the jaw to mimic a natural tooth root. It can take several months for the implant to heal and integrate with the jaw before the final crowns can be fitted, but the sometimes lengthy procedure can produce truly life-changing results.
Dental implants both look and operate like natural teeth, restoring your ability to bite, chew, and speak as normal in addition to enhancing the appearance of your smile. The biggest benefit of implants over bridges or regular dentures to replace missing teeth is that they actually stimulate the jaw like real teeth do, preventing loss of bone density, which can otherwise lead to the face changing shape and taking on a ‘sunken-in’ look.
Implants prevent your natural teeth from moving around due to the gap and keep your facial structure intact, allowing you to smile and use your teeth with the utmost confidence again. Since they remain fixed into the jaw, you can treat them like normal teeth – when you take care of them well, dental implants can last up to 20 years or more.
Invisalign to straighten your teeth
Many people develop crooked, overcrowded, or misaligned teeth when their ‘adult teeth’ come in – often due to genetics, though it can become worse due to bad habits throughout childhood such as thumb-sucking or frequently biting or chewing objects like fingernails or pens and pencils.
This is where orthodontics comes in. This type of dentistry adjusts the alignment of the teeth and jaws to improve your bite, but these procedures are also cosmetic, as they improve the appearance of your smile by making it straight and symmetrical.
Braces are the traditional go-to method for straightening wonky teeth, but not everyone wants to deal with metal brackets and wires for months or even years on end. These braces can also affect your appearance, making you even more self-conscious than before!
A popular alternative that does away with this issue is Invisalign. This customised process involves wearing clear plastic aligners for 20–22 hours a day for the duration of your treatment plan, only removing them to eat or drink and cleaning your teeth before putting them back in. This does tend to be slightly more expensive than traditional braces.
While you have to wear them almost all of the time, their clear and custom-fitted nature means that hardly anyone will even notice that you’re wearing them. You won’t have to struggle with the dietary restrictions and irritation to the lips, gums, and cheeks that come with metal braces, either.
You can find out more about how Invisalign can improve your smile in our dedicated blog.
Fillers to smooth lines around your mouth
You may never have considered facial aesthetic treatments in the same realm as cosmetic dentistry, but the skin and muscles around your mouth are almost as important to the appearance of a healthy, youthful smile as straight and white teeth.
As we age, our skin loses elasticity, and fine lines and wrinkles start to form. Skin can also become looser, increasing the appearance of unwanted folds. The aim of facial aesthetic treatments is to smooth and tighten the skin of the face to reduce the visible effects of ageing.
This type of low-risk, minimally invasive process involves injecting small doses of botulinum toxin into the muscles or dermal fillers under the skin to relax and smooth the affected area. These treatments can be ideal for reducing laughter lines, frown lines, ‘smoker’s lines’, or nasolabial folds.
Depending on the procedure, you may experience a mild discomfort and some bruising afterwards while the area heals. However, dentists trained in facial aesthetics always use numbing creams and clinical dexterity to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible.
Of course, the results aren’t permanent, but professional facial aesthetic treatments can retain good results for 4–6 months before you’ll require a top-up treatment to maintain your desired look.
Is cosmetic dentistry right for you?
Concerned about stained, crooked, or missing teeth? Whichever dental issue may be holding you back from smiling freely, cosmetic dentistry in London could be exactly what you need to give you a beautiful smile and change your life for the better.
Encompassing a wide range of modern techniques, there are many different cosmetic dentistry procedures that can improve the appearance of your teeth. The procedure that’s best for you depends on your current oral health, your aesthetic goals, and your budget.
There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan when it comes to cosmetic dentistry, which is why it’s important to choose highly trained professionals – like ourselves at Finsbury Dental Care – to provide a personalised treatment plan and carry out the procedure.
To learn more about the cosmetic dentistry treatments we can provide, or to book a consultation to find out which procedure would be best for you, give our dental clinic a call on 020 7638 6556. You can also contact us by emailing your enquiry to [email protected], and we will respond with more details as soon as possible.