Wishing you had a dazzling white smile? Tired of your stained, crooked, or chipped teeth, or want to remove a mouthful of metal? More and more people are making cosmetic changes to their teeth. But before you commit, you need to understand your options.
There are many dental procedures that can be done for cosmetic reasons, including bleaching, crowns, veneers, and orthodontics. Choosing what's right for you starts with getting more information. And the first place you should go is to your dentist.
Your dentist can make sure that you start with healthy teeth and gums that are free of cavities or other problems that could prevent you from getting the results you want from your cosmetic procedure. Some dentists perform cosmetic procedures as part of their practices and others will refer you to an appropriate dentist to perform the work.
Most cosmetic procedures are not covered by employer dental plans. You need to find out the cost of the procedure up front and determine how you will finance it. Ask your dental office if they offer financing packages.
Before the work starts, find out how long it will take and how you will feel during the procedure. And make sure to check whether there is more than one way to get the final result. Some procedures, such as tooth bleaching or whitening, can be done in the dentist's chair, or you may be able to whiten your teeth at home using a special tray the dentist will make that will fit your teeth exactly. Home bleaching of the teeth can take 1-2 weeks, and the amount of time the bleaching solution has to remain on your teeth also varies.
You'll also need to know whether there will be any pain or sensitivity associated with the procedure. Some people find that the bleaching process can cause increased sensitivity to hot and cold. Ask the dentist if there are ways to prevent and manage this effect.
You also need to have reasonable expectations as to the results of treatment. Ask to see pictures of actual patients and find out how long your newly beautiful smile will last. Most procedures will eventually have to be redone at intervals that may be be as short at 6 months to a year for bleaching or as long as 10 to 15 years for crowns.
Special thanks to the Canadian Dental Association for their help with this article.
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