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Cosmetic Dentistry — Exploring Your Options

Posted on Sep 22, 2021 4:01 pm

Although Cosmetic Dentistry is not a recognized specialty field in dentistry, it plays an increasingly important role. It is a set of procedures that enhance the appearance of a patient’s smile. While this can include straightening a smile, it also includes crowns, veneers, teeth whitening, and even tooth-colored fillings (bonding).

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Even though the American Dental Association does not have a certification for cosmetic dentistry as a specialty field, it is becoming a mainstay in the industry. It takes years of training to learn the cosmetic dentistry skills necessary to offer these much sought-after treatments. Some of the many treatments included under this umbrella are:

Cosmetic Dentistry is concerned with the appearance of the smile, including teeth, gums, and bite. The ADA does recognize two fields that focus on aesthetics — prosthodontics and orthodontics — but cosmetic dentistry is also a part of many general dentist offices.

Benefits of Cosmetic Dentistry

Any procedure that improves a patient’s smile also has added benefits. First among those is the boost to self-esteem. When our smile looks good we tend to use it more. More smiling adds self-confidence and gives us a general mood of feeling better about ourselves. This translates into every aspect of our lives from home to work and in public areas in general.

There are also health benefits. When you have your smile straightened using braces or other orthodontic appliances, your bite path improves. This means that your teeth become more effective in doing their main job of chewing. Effective chewing results in better digestion, which in turn allows the body to absorb nutrients better.

When people feel better about themselves, their general outlook on life also improves. Our smile is the first thing other people see when they greet us. A broad and welcoming smile sends a great message to the world.

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

Even though cosmetic dentistry conjures up visions of bright white teeth, it means so much more. The term encompasses many procedures that both enhance and correct a person’s smile.

Teeth Whitening

As we live our lives we eat and drink a variety of items that leave a mark on our teeth. Stains and discoloration are easily correctable. Although there are a great number of over-the-counter teeth-whitening solutions and even more “home remedy” versions, having professional teeth whitening is the best method.

This is a procedure that occurs in the dentist’s office, usually following a thorough cleaning during a routine appointment. Professional treatments are more effective than OTC products.

Bonding and Tooth-Colored Fillings

Composite bonding is useful for recreating missing sections of broken teeth and filling cavities resulting from tooth decay. Using special tools, a dentist can sculpt the bonding material. When the shaping is complete, a high-intensity light cures the composite.

Composite coloration can be matched to your current tooth coloration to create natural blending and almost imperceptible repairs. This inexpensive material can be useful in repairing chipping, cracking, cavities, and even filling in a worn tooth.

Dental Crowns

Crowns are a useful prosthetic device that covers an entire tooth. They may be installed over a root canal or a severely damaged tooth. Not only do they create the appearance of a real tooth, but they aid in proper chewing. A dental crown is a permanent fixture that may be anchored to an existing tooth or an implant.

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are individually created for each patient from medical-grade ceramic. They are shaped and colored to resemble a patient’s original teeth which makes them almost imperceptible from real teeth. A dentist affixes veneers using a dental adhesive. Veneers are helpful with cosmetic problems when other means of correction are not available.


Named after the function it serves, a dental bridge can be useful in filling gaps where natural teeth are missing. A typical bridge has two crowns on either end of the gap which can then be filled with prosthetic teeth. Bridges use metal, porcelain, or a combination of these two components.

Dental bridges not only fill spaces where teeth are missing, but they correct the bite path and help the face retain its natural shape. Because our teeth work as a group, missing one or more teeth can cause serious health issues. Although a bridge may fall under the cosmetic dentistry umbrella, it is also a functional prosthetic that helps maintain bone and movement of the jaw.

Gum Contouring

Occasionally people will have what is known as a gummy smile. This happens when the teeth are small and the gums extend lower than normal. Gum contouring allows the dentist to cut away excessive gum tissue, changing the shape of the gums.

Contouring is also useful in restoring lost tissue due to receding gums.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are becoming increasingly popular. By installing an anchor (usually a titanium screw) into the jawbone, a prosthetic tooth or teeth can be solidly and permanently installed. Implants replace missing natural teeth and create the same functionality.

Full and Partial Dentures

There are three basic types of dentures in use — full, partial, and implant. Full dentures can be either fixed (permanent) or removable. They replace all teeth in the upper or lower arch or both. Partial dentures replace several missing teeth and can also be permanent or removable.

Implant secured dentures are a very popular option. Using anchors along the jawline, dentures can be permanently installed. This offers the look and functionality of natural teeth. There are many advantages to implant dentures including:

  • Greater bone retention
  • Better dental health overall
  • No dietary restrictions or cautions
  • More natural-looking
  • No glues, glops, or nightly soaking

Although the pricing on implants is higher than traditional dentures, the benefits are a great incentive.

320 Dental — Your Cosmetic Dentistry Experts

Dr. Joseph Haack and the staff at 320 Dental/Ortho Studio are experts in the art of cosmetic dentistry. Surprisingly, some cosmetic dental procedures may receive compensation under insurance as medically necessary. Check with your insurance provider to see what they may offer.

If you are ready to explore the options of cosmetic dentistry to improve your smile, please use our online Scheduling Widget to schedule an appointment. Alternately, you may call our appointment coordinator directly at (320) 763-7485. We look forward to hearing from you!

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