Options for improving the look for my smile

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General and Cosmetic Dental Care
BDSc (Melb), LDS (Vic)

If you are wanting to improve the appearance of your smile, the cosmetic dentistry techniques needed depend on what the problems are. Numerous factors go into making what, in our culture, we see as beautiful smiles. Here I discuss some of them.

Plaque-free teeth and healthy pink gums

Red, inflamed, bloated gum – gingivitis – from ineffective daily removal of bacterial plaque biofilm.

cosmetic dentistry

Some time spent with a dental hygienist and enlightened effort in the bathroom with your toothbrush can be all it takes (apart from a simple tooth repair in this case) to make a much more attractive smile.

cosmetic dentist

How the gum outline creates the tooth shape we see

“Short” lateral incisor tooth on patient’s right side. 

smile makeover

Apparent tooth size and shape is normalised now with a simple gum re-contour procedure performed using a laser.

cosmetic dentistry

Optics – lightness / darkness, colour intensity / colour consistency, degree of translucency (see-throughness)

Possible solutions:

  • Updating old unattractive fillings using conventional filling material
  • “Vital” bleaching – overall whitening of tooth enamel
  • “Non-vital” bleaching – whitening of individual teeth darkened through injury to the dental pulp (“the nerve”)
  • Veneering and or crowning (providing a new outer covering) in composite resin filling material or dental ceramic (“porcelain”)

Inconsistent optics here are due to previously placed, non-matching dental materials. 

cosmetic dentist

Ceramic veneers and a crown (replacing the pre-existing crown) for four teeth provide consistent optics. 

smile makeover

Teeth length – at the necks (determined by the gum outline) and at the biting edges

This patient’s right central incisor looks square, due to being too short at its neck, and both central incisors are too short to allow a pleasing dominance over the adjacent lateral incisors.

cosmetic dentistry

Three treatment modalities produced this dramatic change: 1/ Vital bleaching, 2/ Gum

re-contouring, 3/ Ceramic veneers for the two central incisor teeth. The veneers allowed matching of height, length, shape and optics.

cosmetic dentist

Teeth shape, size and proportionality – both individually and between each other

The teeth are small relative to this man’s jaws, resulting in unsightly gaps. He also shortened and flattened his teeth through a grinding habit.

cosmetic dentistry

We created pleasing symmetry and closed his gaps using six ceramic veneers.

smile makeover

Presence of tooth damage or previous treatments

Acid damage from vinegar, citrus (most damaging, lemon juice and lemon flesh) and drinks with bubbles can dramatically thin teeth by dissolving the precious enamel outer layer.

cosmetic dentistry

Fortunately, in this case there was just enough enamel thickness left to allow bonding of six, custom ceramic veneers, successfully rehabilitating these teeth for length, thickness, strength, elimination of sensitivity, and beauty.

cosmetic dentist

Position of teeth within the face and in relation to the lips

Getting the positions of the teeth right with respect to the rest of the face is primarily a job addressed by orthodontics, often then followed by ceramic work. Actor Tom Cruise’s teeth have been extensively discussed for years in dental circles, particularly for demonstrating that we can’t always get everything perfect – have a close look at his dental midline in relation to his facial midline.

These photos of Tom, taken from the Australian Society of Orthodontists website, show a pleasing treatment outcome – but his dental midline is significantly to the left of his facial midline, and the teeth appear canted to his left also. It doesn’t seem to have done him any harm, though. This shows that there more ingredients than teeth and gums alone go into making a winning smile!

smile makeover

How do I know what is suitable for me?

You may have no idea what it is that makes you unhappy about your smile, or you may be confident you know what sort of treatment you need. You may or may not have some understanding of what the solutions may be. Whichever way, we think your first step should be to consult a dentist with a known interest and experience in dental aesthetics, and to start that consultation process with an open mind.

At Smile Solutions you will be offered an initial, complimentary aesthetic consultation, from which we aim to provide initial insight into the nature of your smile and the technique (or combination of techniques) that is likely to be helpful in achieving the aesthetic improvement you seek.

Dentists who have interest and experience in aesthetic work (generally called “cosmetic dentists”, although cosmetic dentistry, or aesthetic dentistry, is not an officially recognised field of dentistry in Australia) are likely to be able to show you photographs of smiles with similar features to yours, both pre- and post-treatment, along with appropriate examples of their work, to assist your understanding.

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