Cosmetic Dentists

An overview of procedures

Cosmetic dentistry can improve quality of life and make people feel better about themselves. Whether one is looking for brighter teeth or to fill in a gap, cosmetic dentistry should be considered as an option.

Popular Cosmetic Dental Procedures

There are several popular cosmetic dental procedures:

  • White fillings: These are porcelain or cosmetic-resin finishes that provide a tooth-like appearance to filled cavities.
  • Bonding: This is used to repair broken or chipped teeth with material that looks like enamel.
  • Whitening: This is the most popular cosmetic procedure, as well as the most recommended. It can enhance the appearance of a smile in which teeth have become stained or discolored.
  • Veneers: These are porcelain or plastic-laminate "covers" that are bonded to the surface of the teeth. They will improve a worn appearance or severe discoloration. They also are used for gaps.
  • Implants: These are artificial root replacements that are part of the prosthetic for tooth loss. Implants will give a more youthful appearance because missing teeth make the teeth collapse, which makes a person look older.
  • Braces: These aren't just for kids. Adults who have crooked or crowded teeth can benefit from orthodontics, too.
  • Candidates for Cosmetic Dentistry

    Who is best suited for cosmetic dentistry? It depends on the procedure:

    • Nearly everyone can have their teeth whitened. Only those who have severe discoloration will not benefit solely from the whitening. Those patients may need a combination of whitening and veneers.
    • Patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaws may not be the best candidates for veneers, as these actions may cause the veneers to chip or crack.
    • Smokers are not the best candidates for cosmetic procedures even though they are the ones who may need them the most. Any smoker who wishes to have cosmetic dentistry of any sort should quit smoking before having the procedure. Smokers have a greater likelihood of periodontal disease, tooth loss, loss of bone structure and oral cancer. These factors do not make them candidates for implants unless they quit smoking. As for whitening, the benefits of the procedure will be quickly lost if the patient returns immediately to smoking.
    • Children cannot have implants until bone growth has stopped, usually in adolescence. They often are candidates for orthodontics and whitening, though.

    Cost and Insurance Benefits

    Before having any cosmetic dental procedure, you'll want to check the price and any relevant insurance coverage:

    • In-office whitening costs around $450 and is the least expensive procedure for improving the smile. Veneers can run $1,000 to $2,000 each. Porcelain crowns cost between $950 and $2,000 each, depending on the location in the mouth. White fillings run between $150 and $500 each.
    • Insurance companies usually do not cover veneers, whitening or bonding.
    • Some dental plans may cover crowns and bridges. Usually, restorative and functional dentistry is covered. That is, anything that affects the overall health of the mouth is covered. Anything that is done strictly for cosmetic appearance is not.

    Before having any cosmetic dental procedure, check the qualifications and training of the professional completing the procedure. Beware of any low-ball prices, as they are a sign that you are not dealing with a reputable professional. Although cosmetic procedures can be expensive and will not all be covered by insurance, the benefits to the appearance will have a significant impact on the life of a person living with imperfect teeth.

    By Mary Jane Suttor