Cosmetic Dentistry – Smile Makeovers

The aim of a smile makeover is simply to improve the look or aesthetics of your smile. The desired result of the makeover is therefore a very personal matter and will involve you discussing your aims for the treatment with your dentist. Some people want the gleaming white teeth which are evident in celebrity culture, the so called ‘Hollywood Smile’ while others may just want to address one or two issues with their teeth which are detracting from their smile.

Many of the techniques employed in cosmetic dentistry are those which have already been addressed in relation to
restorative treatments. These include white fillings, porcelain crowns, the creation of bridges and dentures. Techniques which have not been discussed include veneers, tooth whitening and dental implants.


A veneer consists of a thin layer of porcelain or composite material which is placed over the front of the tooth to improve the tooth’s appearance. The veneer will be colour matched with the surrounding teeth in order to provide a natural appearance. A veneer can also be shaped and positioned to improve the appearance or a crocked or chipped tooth, as well as lessen an unsightly gap between teeth.

The procedure requires the
dentist to remove the layer of enamel from the surface of the tooth and plan the shape, size, positioning and colouring of the veneer. The dentist will create and impression which will be sent to the laboratory. The patient will be given a temporary veneer whilst the permanent veneer is made at the laboratory. The first stage is normally done under local anaesthetic. On the second appointment the dentist will check that the veneer has achieved the desired effect before cementing it in place.

Veneers should last for many years, though they can sustain damage in use in the same way as other teeth. Veneers can be replaced when necessary should they become damaged or discoloured.

Tooth Whitening

Teeth whitening allows the shade of the teeth to be lightened until the desired effect is achieved. Teeth can become stained or discoloured through a variety of reasons, such as drinking tea, coffee or red wine. Smoking and consuming certain foods like curry can also cause discolouration. The substances involved in these products can penetrate the surface of the tooth so no amount of brushing alone will restore the appearance of the teeth.

What does tooth whitening involved?

The dentist will first take an impression of your mouth in order that the laboratory can make two trays that will fit in the mouth, rather like a gum shield. Gel is then placed in the trays which are then worn for a few hours each day, usually at night. The gel usually contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamideperoxide. These compounds break down the discolouration enabling oxygen to get into the enamel of the teeth which then become lighter. Your dentist will instruct you in how and when to use the trays as well as the application of the cleaning gel.

How long does the procedure take?

You should notice a significant difference in the appearance of your teeth after 2 – 3 weeks use of the trays. Your dentist will first want to check that your teeth are in good condition and there is no decay. A visit to the hygienist may then be necessary to ensure that the teeth are as clean as possible before whitening, your dentist may choose to carry out this clean. Once this is done the dentist can then take the impressions for the whitening trays to be made by the laboratory.

When you next visit the dentist your dentist will then ensure that they trays fit and instruct you on how to use the gel. The whole procedure will therefore have taken two or perhaps three visits to your dentist with a follow up visit some time later to asses the process and shading achieved.

Will the whitening achieve the desired result?

A significant majority of patients are very pleased with the results that can be achieved in a two to four week time span. Patients who have heavily discoloured teeth will need to use the trays for a longer period in order to lighten the teeth to the desired shade.

Teeth will stay lighter between one and two years. This period of course will vary depending on contact with food and drink that may discolour them. Once you have the trays and gel, you will then be able to “top up” the whitening possibly once or twice a year to counteract this discolouration and maintain the desired shade.

Are there any side effects?

The teeth whitening as described above is a completely safe and harmless procedure as long as it is carried out under the supervision of your dentist. Patients have reported raised sensitivity during the first few days of using the trays. This sensitivity does tend to ware off after a while and there are ways of reducing this sensitivity.

Are whitening kits I can buy over the counter as well as teeth whitening by the dentist?

Whitening kits bought over the counter or through the internet can damage enamel of your teeth because they may contain mild acids or abrasives. Teeth whitening toothpastes are safer to use and will help with staining but cannot change the shade of your teeth.

Dental Implants

Dental implants enable the patient to replace missing teeth without impacting on patients remaining teeth. They offer a long lasting solution to the problem of missing teeth and can even be used to secure loose dentures.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant consist of a titanium screw which is accurately placed in the upper or lower jaw it can then be used to support one or more replacement teeth. Titanium has become the material of choice because it has been found to form a strong bond with the bone of the jaw.

What does the treatment involve?

As with all treatments the patient will first sit down with the dentist to discuss what they wish to achieve. The dentist will then look to the suitability of dental implants for the particular patient as well as addressing any other relevant treatment options.

Dental implants are usually completed in two phases:-

Phase 1

This involves the placement of the titanium post into the jaw of the patient. This procedure is a highly skilled task as the placement will determine the position of the tooth. The patient will require local anaesthetic or oral sedation during this procedure.

This will then be left to rest for three to six months in order that the post can from a strong bond with the bone of the jaw to be able to support the replacement tooth. Your dentist will advise on
temporary bridges or dentures that may be used in order to improve the appearance and functionality of your teeth whilst the post bonds into place.

Phase 2

This will involve the making and fitting of the replacement tooth or teeth to fit on the titanium post and blend in with your existing teeth. The replacement teeth will be made by the laboratory after the dentist has taken impressions and considered the correct shade.
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