Cosmetic dentistry can be seen as elective dentistry in that these procedures are not required to address a critical health situation. Mandatory dentistry is when it is a necessity for a procedure to be performed; normally this is apparent to the patient, such as when they need a painful tooth extracted. However, this is not to say that cosmetic dentistry only approves appearance. It can be the case that cosmetic dentistry also improves oral hygiene and overall well-being.
Here, we run down a few cosmetic dental treatments and evaluate their oral health and overall benefit to the patient.
Teeth whitening can lighten naturally yellowish teeth or treat teeth that have been stained by constant consumption of food and beverages which stain teeth. Food and drinks such as soy sauce, red wine, and curry, as well as a host of others, contain chromogens or tannin which not only give food and drinks a strong color, but also make consumables more likely to stain teeth. Smoking over a long period of time is also likely to stain teeth.
Tooth whitening is a purely cosmetic treatment. It can be done at home with a variety of kits but more often, the best results come from visiting a cosmetic dentist. There is some hygiene benefit as a dentist will often clean teeth before they whiten them as whitening treatments are more effective on clean teeth. However, the main benefit is psychological. People feel more confident with a brighter smile and this can have very positive effects on their quality of life.
In some cases, you’ll need to replace a missing tooth and the most secure option is to have a dental implant. This is a long procedure where a titanium implant is screwed into the jaw where the missing tooth was. It is allowed a few weeks to bond with the tissue until it is strong enough to be considered a permanent part of your oral structure. Once the implant is secure, it is capped with a permanent crown that looks like a natural tooth. This is a long-lasting solution and can last 20 years if good oral hygiene is practiced.
Dental implants are a cosmetic dental treatment, as nobody wants a visible gap in their front teeth. However, it is also a treatment that serves a strong health benefit. The bone area around the jaw where the missing tooth was can suffer from atrophy and the patient can experience bone loss in their jaw. A dental implant stimulates the jaw area where the original tooth was preventing atrophy.
Treatments such as tooth whitening, veneers, and tooth sculpting tend to be more aligned with improving the appearance of teeth. They do not greatly contribute to the oral health of the patient. What they do provide is a much-improved sense of self-esteem for the patient. This confidence can drastically change the quality of life for an individual as they can be more social and more engaged in the workplace.
Whether your needs are mandatory or elective, it’s best to visit your dentist if you’re unhappy about your teeth. A good dentist will be able to tell you what treatment you need and explain the options you have.