If you’ve watched any of those plastic surgery reality shows, you’ll hear the surgeon say procedures aren’t strictly aesthetic. Nose jobs – for example – are always sought to get a smaller, straighter, or prettier nose. However, a good surgeon will consider that the primary function of your nose is to breathe. Therefore, they won’t perform a rhinoplasty that impairs breathing, and even as they ‘prettify’ your nose they’ll try clearing your nasal passages too.
Similarly, a good dentist knows your ability to speak clearly and eat well supersede your desire for a flashy smile. They won’t perform any procedure that harms your oral health, so as much as you may request cosmetic dentistry, they’ll weigh your visual desires against the potential effects on your health. That said, here are some of the most common treatments patients ask their dentists for.
Conventional braces are seen as a necessary evil by gangly teenagers around the world (and their over-eager parents). Still, more and more adults are now looking for ways to straighten their teeth. Since the invention of invisible braces, their usage has increased exponentially. They’re put in at a later age than traditional braces, so it’s becoming a choice that people make for themselves, rather than something imposed by parents.
Invisible braces still require you to brush after every meal, but brushing your teeth takes much shorter, because you’re not struggling to reach between the wires. These aligners can be removed at meal times, and you can take them off when you need to brush or floss, making them a convenient option. Plus, they’re barely visible on your teeth. If anything, their transparent properties make your teeth sparkle in the light, so yay!
Similarly, older patients are realising they don’t have to use those ghoulish snapping dentures anymore. People are living longer, healthier, more active lives, so they don’t want to be weighed down with stereotypical tennis-ball walkers and removable teeth. Instead, they’re saving up for permanent implants that don’t have to be replaced every few years.
These ‘permanent dentures’ consist of two parts. The base is a titanium implant that is fused to the patient’s jaw bone. The non-allergenic implant is given a few months to grow into the bone and settle into position. It has low rejection rates, which is why it’s preferred.
After three or four months, the patient comes back to have a porcelain crown fitted over the titanium base. These dental implants don’t have to be removed when you sleep. You can talk, eat, brush, and floss just like you can with ordinary teeth, and you can enjoy your tough, chewy, crunchy foods well into your eighties and nineties.
Patients with a lifetime of nicotine and caffeine – or those who grew up in areas with over-fluoridated water – are often self-conscious about their smiles. Once they achieve financial stability (or find a job with a good dental plan), they request whitening. They might have unsuccessfully tried over-the counter treatments, so now they want the real thing.
If the stain is on one or two teeth, a good dentist will recommend tooth-coloured restoration rather than whitening, because it gives a more natural effect. It’s a good way to mask imperfection, repair a chipped tooth, or correct misshapen enamels.
But if all the teeth are stained, non-invasive whitening procedures like Ultradent give better results. It’s a safe three-step process, though it doesn’t work on fillings or crowns, so if you have a lot of those, especially on your front teeth, opt for tooth-coloured coating. Keep in mind that Ultradent lightens your teeth rather than changing their base colour.
Sometimes, a patient walks into their dentist’s office with a photo of a celebrity (or sibling) and says, ‘I want my teeth to look like that.’ Often, the patient just wants gorgeous smile, so they’re not quite sure how they want their teeth changed. They may not realise that some of those smiles are natural, the result of the person’s jawline, lip structure, mouth curvature, skin texture, or even the shape of their neck, cheeks, and chin.
Other times, it could be facial surgery that caused that gorgeous smile, not their teeth specifically. Still, one of the most common tooth treatments celebrities receive are veneers, so a dentist might offer them as a response to this inquiry. Veneers are permanent porcelain shells that are crowned on top of your teeth. They shine forever, and can’t be re-stained by caffeine, wine, or anything else you put in your mouth. Except maybe ink. Don’t eat ink.