When you open your mouth to speak, your smile is the first thing someone notices. The appearance of your smile can either build or break your self-esteem and confidence. Important aspects of your dental health that build a good smile include the shape, color, and alignment of your teeth. Several factors could distort the appearance of your teeth, including disease, diet, dental hygiene, and genetic disorders. Fortunately, you can achieve your desired smile through cosmetic dentistry.

When you consult a cosmetic dentist, they will assess your teeth and gums to determine your suitability for a cosmetic dental procedure. Some procedures you can undergo will include dental bonding, teeth whitening, dental crowns, and veneers. The outcome of cosmetic dental procedures can affect you for a lifetime. Therefore, you must consult with a knowledgeable cosmetic dentist. At South Coast Dentistry, we offer top-notch cosmetic dentistry services to our clients in Aliso Viejo, CA.

Overview of Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is a field of dentistry that focuses on the outlook of your teeth and gums. This field's procedures focus on repairing discolored, misshapen, stained, discolored, broken chipped teeth.

Cosmetic dentistry differs from general dentistry in that general dentistry addresses all problems related to dental pain, hygiene, and discomfort. General dentists provide care for all groups of individuals, and their services are not focused on a specific aspect of dental practice. The services under general dentistry range from preventive to restorative abs and overall dental care concerns.

If your dental problems are purely cosmetic or affect the appearance of your smile, you should consult a cosmetic dentist. Cosmetic dental procedures are not for everyone. Therefore, a cosmetic dentist is trained to assess your condition and determine your suitability for a particular procedure.

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

Depending on your specific cosmetic needs, your dentist could recommend one of the following procedures:

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is an affordable, quick, and less invasive way to enhance your smile. Many people have embraced teeth whitening since you can undergo the procedure on any budget. Tooth whitening could be done at home using whitening kits or from short dental appointments. Almost everyone who undergoes teeth whitening will notice a change in the appearance of their smile.

Tooth whitening is done to remove stains or correct discoloration from:

  • Age. As a result of stain accumulation or natural wear and tear, teeth tend to discolor with age. However, you must understand that whitening teeth becomes more challenging as you age.
  • Diet. The health and appearance of our teeth directly reflect what we eat. Some foods and drinks leave behind stubborn stains that are difficult to remove with normal oral hygiene practices.
  • Poor dental hygiene. Failure to brush or floss your teeth will accumulate plaque on the teeth and gums, causing stubborn stains. In addition, skipping dental appointments allows stains to go undetected, which could worsen the condition.
  • Medication. Some medications, like tetracycline, cause discoloration in developing teeth.
  • Environment. Too much fluoride during tooth formation can cause fluorosis that appears as dark stains on your teeth.

There are several options for teeth whitening:

  • Professional whitening. Professional whitening in a dental office is the most effective form. Your cosmetic dentist will use a concentrated peroxide formula to achieve the pearly white tooth color. While this option is more effective, it may be better for some due to its high cost.
  • Whitening trays. This type of teeth whitening is effective since the whitening trays are custom-made to fit your teeth. Additionally, you will not need to worry about gum irritation.
  • Whitening strips. Whitening strips are thin pieces of plastic covered with a peroxide formula. Many people prefer using whitening strips since they are affordable and can be used in the comfort of their homes.

Dental Bonding

Bonding is a cosmetic procedure that uses tooth-colored composite material to improve the appearance of your smile. Your dentist can recommend this procedure to repair chipped teeth, repair gaps between teeth, and change the shape or color of your teeth. The material used for this procedure can also be effective in restorative dentistry to fill cavities, protect the roots of your teeth and replace amalgam or silver fillings.

Before dental bonding, your cosmetic dentist will discuss your dental goals. Additionally, it would help if you underwent a dental examination to determine your suitability for the procedure. If you have serious dental complications like tooth decay or periodontitis, you will need to treat the issues before bonding your teeth. Your dentist will perform the bonding procedure through the following steps:

  • Your dentist matches the shade of your teeth to a resin color
  • Your tooth surface is roughened and conditioned
  • The dentist applied the composite resin material on the tooth surface and molded it to the desired shape.
  • The resin is cured with a special light to ensure proper attachment to your teeth
  • The dentist polishes your teeth to attain the natural look

The dental bonding procedure takes thirty to sixty minutes per tooth, and you will not experience any pain. This is because the dentist does not interfere with your tooth structure. After the procedure, you must maintain proper oral hygiene and attend dental checkups. Cosmetic dental bonding offers a wider range of benefits, including:

  • Minimally invasive. The bonding material is thin and does not require enamel removal before placement.
  • Affordable. Dental bonding is one of the most cost-effective cosmetic procedures.
  • Fast and convenient. Bonding is performed in one dental visit

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are thin shells attached to the front surface of your tooth to improve its appearance. Often, veneers are made of porcelain or composite, which mimic the natural tooth color. Cosmetic veneers can treat broken, chipped, or discolored teeth. While you can fit a single veneer for a chipped tooth, most people opt for up to six veneers to create uniformity.

Before the porcelain and composite veneers, dentists used traditional veneers. The application of traditional veneers involves removing part of your tooth enamel for proper placement of the veneer. The level of tooth reduction varies, deepening on your desired outlook and other dental health concerns.

  • Porcelain Veneers

The process of fitting porcelain veneers involves taking a mold impression of your teeth and sending them to a lab for custom-made veneers. When your veneers are ready, your dentist will place them on your teeth and cement them onto the tooth enamel.

  • Composite-Resin Veneers

When you choose composite resin veneers, the dentists etch your tooth surface before applying the composite material. Sometimes, additional layers of the composite are needed to achieve the desired look. The procedure ends when the dentist cures the composite on your tooth.

You could base your choice on the type of veneers you need by assessing the cost of each option, the number of years the restoration can serve you, and your dentist's recommendations. One benefit you could accrue from the veneers is a white pearly smile that lasts a long time. Additionally, these restorations can help to close the gaps between your teeth.

Dental Crown

A dental crown is a cap placed on a damaged tooth. Fitting dental crowns aims to protect, restore, and cover the tooth when a dental filling is not beneficial. A cosmetic dentist could recommend a dental crown for a variety of reasons:

  • Protect weak teeth from breaking
  • Restore a broken or severely worn-out tooth
  • Hold a dental bridge in place
  • Cover crooked, misshapen, or discolored teeth
  • Cover a dental implant

Dental crowns can be made of different materials, including:

  • Metal. Several metals like gold, chromium, or nickel are commonly used for dental crowns. Dental crowns last the longest since the likelihood of breaking or chipping is low. Additionally, the material can withstand chewing or biting forces.
  • Resin. Resin dental crowns are an inexpensive choice. However, you may need replacement over time.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal. Porcelain mimics the natural color of your teeth. Therefore, you can achieve strength from metal and a natural appearance from this type of material.
  • Ceramic. Ceramic dental crowns are suitable when you are allergic to metal and offer the best natural color to your smile.

Your choice of dental crown material varies depending on your desired outlook, budget, and location of the tooth requiring a crown. The fitting of a dental crown takes two visits. On the first visit, your dentist will examine and prepare the tooth requiring the crown. You may receive a temporary crown to protect the prepared tooth during this visit. On your second visit, the crown is fitted and polished.

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are conservative alternatives to dental crowns. Commonly known as indirect fittings. These restorations offer a stronger, well-fitting, and long-lasting solution for tooth decay accompanied by structural damage to the tooth. Your dentist can use inlays or onlays to replace traditional fillings for aesthetic and functional purposes.

Inlays are used to cover a tooth structure which is not sufficient to place a regular filling. On the other hand, onlays replace the caps and tips of the damaged tooth. Placement of inlays or onlays takes two dental visits. During the first visit, your dentist will take impressions on the tooth area requiring restoration. The molded impression is then sent to a lab for custom-made inlay or onlays.

If you are a good candidate for inlays or onlays, your dentist will allow you to choose the material with which you want your restorations to be made. Inlays and onlays can be made of gold, porcelain, or resin. The dentist will check your restorations during the second visit to ensure they fit on the cavities correctly before bonding them onto the tooth. Inlays and onlays offer the following benefits:

  • Superior fit. While preparing these restorations, the dentist conserves as much of your healthy tooth as possible.
  • Maintain tooth color. Materials used for inlays or onlays boast esthetic longevity and a low likelihood of discoloration.
  • Easy cleaning. Since these restorations are custom-made, they fit on your tooth perfectly, making cleaning easier.

Dental Contouring

Tooth reshaping, commonly known as dental contouring, is a cosmetic procedure that involves changing the shape of your teeth. Your dentist removes a small part of your tooth enamel and combines it with bonding. Before you undergo a tooth reshaping procedure, your dentist will perform x-rays to determine the health of your teeth. The dentist will then mark the area of the tooth that will require sculpting. A sanding instrument removes all the imperfections from the tooth enamel to create a smooth surface.

Dental contouring is an effective way to improve your smile by correcting misshapen teeth. Often, the procedure is suitable for individuals who require slight adjustments to the structure of their tooth enamel. You can visit your cosmetic dentist if you have slightly pointed or crooked teeth. The dentist can use tooth contouring as the first step to more complicated procedures.

However, it would help if you weighed the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure before moving forward. Some of the pros of dental contouring include the following:

  • Painless. Since your dentist will only work on the tooth enamel, there is no pain or discomfort from the procedure.
  • Cost-effective. Dental contouring is an inexpensive way to improve the outlook of your teeth. Depending on the amount of work needed for the tooth, you could spend between $50 and $300 per tooth.
  • Substitutes braces. Since contouring makes your teeth appear straighter, the procedure is a cheaper and faster alternative to dental braces.
  • Improves the health of your teeth. Removing overlaps and excessive tooth enamel can deter the accumulation of plaque and tartar, which lowers the risk of decay and cavities.

The disadvantages of teeth reshaping you need to learn before scheduling an appointment for the procedure include:

  • Risk of tooth damage. Pending on the amount of tooth enamel that needs to be removed to achieve the desired outlook, you can suffer tooth sensitivity or risk of breakage.
  • Subtle change. Tooth reshaping or contouring may not dramatically change your appearance like other cosmetic procedures. If you seek a more noticeable change, you must combine the reshaping with other procedures.

Benefits of Cosmetic Dental Procedures

Cosmetic dental procedures like Invisalign and tooth whitening have become common. While cosmetic dentistry may seem superficial, its benefits go beyond the outward appearance. Having a beautiful smile is just one of the outcomes of these procedures. Some of the benefits you accrue from undergoing a cosmetic dental procedure include the following:

  • Enhanced smile. If you seek to change something about your smile by making it whiter or more uniform, a cosmetic dentist can help you do that. The cosmetic dentistry field encompasses various procedures to serve your desired purpose.
  • Boost your self-confidence. It is challenging to feel confident or capable when you remain conscious about your smile. You may suppress your urge to smile or laugh while interacting with others to avoid exposing discolored, broken, or chipped teeth. Correcting these issues through cosmetic dental procedures can boost your confidence and ease your interactions.
  • Improves your oral health. The benefit of a cosmetic dental procedure goes beyond the beautiful smile. Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean, which improves your oral hygiene and reduces the chances of developing oral health problems like tooth decay or gum disease.
  • Improves your bite. One of the factors that could affect your smile is an uneven bite. An uneven bite affects your appearance and can cause difficulty chewing food and teeth grinding. Cosmetic procedures like Invisalign can correct the problems with your bite, making your smile more attractive and preventing further tooth damage.
  • Brightens your smile. Although white teeth are highly desirable, many people have accumulated layers of their stains through smoking, diet, or habits like smoking or the use of alcohol. You can achieve the white pearly smile through various cosmetic dental procedures like teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.
  • Replaces missing teeth. A missing tooth is a cosmetic concern and a severe dental complication. Individuals with missing teeth have difficulty speaking, smiling, and chewing. When you replace a missing tooth with a dental bridge or implant, you will improve your appearance while solving other health complications arising from the lost tooth.
  • Offers long-lasting results. The results of s cosmetic dental procedure are visible immediately when you leave your dentist's However, they still stand the test of time. When you exercise proper dental hygiene and care, cosmetic procedures like veneers can serve you for up to twenty years without needing replacement.

Find a Skilled Cosmetic Dentist Near Me

Your oral health is a key component of your overall health and well-being. Nowadays, we care for our teeth not only to keep them healthy but also to maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. If you have dental problems like discolored, broken, or chipped teeth, you can correct them by undergoing a cosmetic dental procedure. These procedures aim to restore not only the function of your tooth but also its appearance. A beautiful smile can change your self-image and boost your confidence significantly.

Cosmetic dental procedures are, and your choice of a cosmetic dentist can affect the outcome. At South Coast Dentistry, we strive to provide the highest quality dental care to create and maintain the most attractive and healthy smiles for you and your loved ones. If you want to improve your smile through a cosmetic dental procedure in Aliso Viejo, CA, we invite you to contact us at 949-274-9086.