In this modern world of the ‘hollywood smile’ people are addicted to manicuring their teeth almost as often as their nails and only the whitest, straightest, most perfectly shaped ones will do. However, unlike nails, teeth sadly do not regrow and, once shaped, there is no going back. So make sure you choose the right dentist.
The 4 main ways to improve the visual appearance of teeth without actually moving them are crowns (caps), veneers, white filling materials and teeth whitening.
Crowns – The most destructive of all my options are crowns (caps) which require the tooth to be shaped into an upside down plant pot so that they can fit onto the tooth. This means significant healthy tooth tissue has to be removed so the specific shape can be achieved. Crowns have an important role in preventing teeth from breaking, particularly when they have been weakened by decay or a root canal treatment. In these cases, the negative effects of loosing more tooth from the shaping process are often outweighed by the advantage of making the tooth stronger against biting forces. However, when crowns are done purely for aesthetic purposes that balance is shifted and begs the question whether the sacrifice of loosing more of your tooth is worth it when other less destructive options are available to improve their appearance. Dentists love every single tiny micro millimetre of enamel and want to keep it at all costs because it helps teeth survive long term.
Veneers – Veneers are like false nails which are placed on the top of the teeth to slightly re-shape them and improve the colour. These require only a small amount of healthy tooth to be removed compared to a crown but still the top surface of the tooth needs to be shaved off otherwise the veneers will look bulky and unnatural. Veneers can look fantastic and are often a great way to improve your smile but they should only be done in a clean, healthy mouth with no decay or gum disease and by someone who is experienced in aesthetic treatment. It can also be a very pricey option but often it is is best to spend a little more and get a well qualified, experienced practitioner who can treat you carefully and ethically and will do the treatment as part of a well thought through treatment plan.
Composite – White filling material is called composite and it can often be added to the front teeth to reshape them and improve the smile. Some dentists are truly gifted at working with this material and create wonderful results by removing almost none of your natural tooth. The only disadvantage is that often it will not last as long as veneers and so will need to be replaced, causing additional hassle and expense.
Teeth Whitening – teeth whitening which always makes a dramatic improvement to appearance of the smile and the best part is that the teeth are not damaged in any way whatsoever. It has its limitations because it will not change the shape or position of the teeth but by improving the colour, the smile immediately looks fresher and more aesthetically appealing.