If you're not happy about the appearance of your smile, it can often take more than a single treatment to make the changes you want. A dentist can discuss these options with you as you work together to plan your personal smile makeover.
There are many features that make up a smile which are in delicate balance, so careful planning is essential for achieving satisfying and natural-looking results. Cosmetic dentistry procedures should be carried out by qualified and experienced dentists using the latest technologies to minimise the risks.
What to expect at your consultation
If you're considering cosmetic dentistry, your first step should be a consultation with a dentist. They will listen to your concerns and discuss all the treatment options that could help you.
Some issues, such as tooth discolouration or damaged teeth, can be treated by different procedures. Your dentist will give you all the information you need about costs, possible complications and recovery periods so you can make informed decisions about what's right for your needs and your budget.
Your dentist will also check your medical history and ask about any medication you're taking or other factors that could affect your suitability for treatments.
What's included in a smile makeover?
A smile makeover is a personal treatment plan that's tailored for each individual based on their needs and preferences. It may be simple or complex and may be entirely cosmetic or include a combination of cosmetic and restorative dental procedures to correct functional issues and lower your oral health risks.
Issues that may be addressed by a smile makeover include:
- tooth stains or discolouration
- crooked or misaligned teeth
- short or irregular teeth
- damaged, worn or missing teeth
- spaces between teeth
- unsightly metal fillings
- prominent or uneven gums
- signs of ageing around the mouth
Following are common treatments dentists can provide to address these concerns.
Check-up and professional clean
It's important to have healthy teeth and gums before cosmetic treatments can begin. Your dentist will check for signs of problems such as tooth decay and gum disease and will recommend treating these as a priority so they don't affect your results.
After your check-up, your dentist or hygienist will gently clean and scale your teeth to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from their surfaces. This can also remove some surface stains and discolouration, which could enhance your cosmetic results.
Tooth bonding and fillings
Bonding and white fillings both use a composite resin that your dentist can match to your natural tooth shade.
- Bonding is the application of resin to cover minor imperfections on teeth, such as discoloured patches or small chips and cracks. Bonding can also close small gaps between teeth.
- Fillings can restore the strength and appearance of teeth damaged by decay or minor injuries. If a tooth is more severely damaged, your dentist may recommend an inlay, onlay or crown instead.
Composite resin can stand up to normal wear and tear, but it's not as strong as some other restorations, such as porcelain crowns or veneers, so you should take care when biting hard foods to avoid damage.
If you have existing metal amalgam fillings that you feel are too noticeable in your mouth, you can talk to your dentist about replacing these with white fillings or other tooth-coloured restorations. Amalgam replacement needs to be performed with care due to the presence of mercury in these fillings.
Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatment in Australia. It involves the application of gels containing bleaching chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide to tooth surfaces. This may be done at a dental clinic in a single visit or in your home over multiple sessions.
- Personalised home whitening kits can be provided by a dentist. They are designed to be safer and more effective than generic over-the-counter whitening products.
- In-chair whitening costs more, but the treatment is completed faster and results may be improved. Your treatment will be in safe hands with a qualified and experienced dentist.
Teeth whitening can be effective at removing pigments left on teeth by certain food and drinks, tobacco use and from other sources. However, it can't cover up discolouration caused by trauma or medication side effects. These may require an alternative, such as fitting crowns or veneers.
Teeth whitening is also only temporary and will need to be repeated at regular intervals if you want to maintain your white smile.
Dental veneers are thin but strong facings for teeth. By replacing the front surface of a tooth, they can cover up a wide range of issues, including discoloured, chipped, slightly crooked or misshapen teeth and gaps.
Veneers are custom made to fit perfectly over teeth. The procedure and their properties vary depending on the type of veneers:
- Porcelain veneers are made outside the mouth, based on impressions, and bonded into place. A close match to tooth enamel, porcelain veneers look natural and are strong and long-lasting.
- Composite veneers are applied directly to teeth and made from a composite resin. The procedure is faster and more affordable, but the veneers can be duller and don't generally last as long.
Your teeth may need to be prepared for veneers by removing a thin layer of enamel, though not in all cases. This can sometimes make teeth feel more sensitive and can mean committing to veneers for life, so you should make your decision with care.
A dental crown may be recommended if a tooth needs more extensive correction than can be done with fillings or veneers. Custom made to fit perfectly over teeth, crowns or caps are usually made from porcelain ceramic for a seamless and natural-looking finish.
Crowns are widely used in cosmetic and general dentistry for many reasons – to restore a worn or damaged tooth, create an even biting surface, extend short teeth, or even to cover discolouration. A crowned tooth should look, feel and function just like a natural tooth.
Placing a porcelain crown traditionally involves two appointments, as the crown is manufactured in a dental laboratory, but dental clinics equipped with CEREC systems can design, manufacture and place crowns all in a single visit.
Orthodontics is the straightening of teeth and jaws to create a more uniform bite. While problems such as crooked, misaligned or protruding teeth can affect your appearance, they can sometimes cause other issues, such as affecting how you eat or speak, oral health problems, teeth grinding or jaw pain.
Orthodontics is a long-term treatment that may be recommended before beginning other cosmetic treatments. Most adults who choose orthodontics prefer something less noticeable than metal braces, and alternatives can include:
- Tooth-coloured ceramic braces
- Lingual braces attached behind the teeth
- Removable aligners such as Invisalign® clear aligners
The treatments you are eligible for will depend on the type of orthodontic issues you have. Your dentist will complete an orthodontic assessment and discuss your options.
Replacing missing teeth
If you've lost any teeth due to accidents or dental problems, or you have teeth that are severely decayed and need to be extracted, your dentist can discuss different options to fill the gap and restore your smile.
Depending on how many teeth you want to replace and your price range, these options could include:
- Dental implants – permanent titanium implants that replace the roots of teeth and can be covered by a crown, bridge or denture. Placing implants involves minor surgery.
- Dental bridge – a less invasive option for replacing several teeth in a row. Bridges may be supported by crowns or clasps attached to healthy teeth on each side.
- Dentures – full or partial dentures are the most affordable way to replace as many teeth as you need, but they can be less comfortable and stable than the alternatives.
A smile makeover can involve more than just your teeth. If your top gum shows prominently when you smile, or your gums extend further over your teeth than you would like, you may be suitable for a gum lift.
This may involve recontouring the gum line around the teeth or an injection into the muscles of the upper lip to prevent it from raising so high when you smile.
Some dentists are qualified to offer anti-wrinkle injections to help reduce the visible signs of ageing around the mouth or on other areas of the face. These treatments can help to smooth the appearance of wrinkles or add volume to sagging skin.
Cosmetic injections are considered safe, but your dentist will check that you are suitable and explain the possible complications. These are also short-term treatments that may need to be repeated every so often if you want to maintain your appearance.
Thinking about a smile makeover on the Gold Coast?
If you want to change something about your smile and want to know what your options are, book a consultation with our experienced dentists at Robina Town Dental. We'll listen to your concerns and let you know how we can help.
Call our team on 07 5575 9100 or book online. Our Gold Coast dental clinic is conveniently located in Robina Town Centre and we also welcome patients from Burleigh Heads, Mudgeeraba, Miami, Varsity Lakes, Burleigh Waters, Merrimac, Mermaid Waters, Worongary and Clear Island Waters.
Better Health Channel. Cosmetic dentistry [Online] 2018 [Accessed May 2022] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cosmetic-dentistry