Contrary to popular belief, not all teeth are naturally white. While they start off white, teeth lose this shade due to enamel erosion brought forth by aging and constant use. Because of this, the lower dentin layer eventually surfaces, which can come in a range of colors, from yellow to gray.
Dentists point out that loss of whiteness isn’t necessarily a sign of poor dental health. However, people have maintained the impression that white teeth are the epitome of good dental health for the longest time. Not to mention that the sight of yellow or gray teeth doesn’t sit well with some.
For this, many people go to a cosmetic dentist to address the issue. But it begs the question: is cosmetic dentistry right for you?
More than teeth whitening
As the term implies, cosmetic dentistry is a dental discipline dedicated to improving the teeth’s appearance. Anyone can undergo its plethora of procedures, provided that their teeth and gums are in good health. Otherwise, cosmetic dentists will ask patients to address their dental issues first before undergoing any procedures to avoid complications.
Stained teeth aren’t the only aesthetic issue addressed by cosmetic dentists. They point out that a tooth lost to unavoidable extraction can lead to many problems, from bone loss to bite irregularities. Missing teeth are more common among people aged 65 and above, with one in four only having up to eight teeth left.
A cosmetic dentist can help with this via bridges or dental implants. Bridges are a cost-effective approach to restore proper bite and speech and preserve the natural alignment of the remaining teeth. Dental implants, while pricey and restricted to specific conditions, can mitigate bone loss, as the gums can regrow around the biocompatible metal roots.
Another scenario is a dead tooth, which must undergo root canal therapy or extraction if it’s a lost cause. However, root canals aren’t permanent (no dental treatment is), and the tooth might crack over time, necessitating a dental crown.
Overall, teeth whitening is elective for the reasons mentioned earlier. But when the case involves extracted or dead teeth, other cosmetic procedures become necessary to preserve the structure of the teeth and gums.
Science of the smile
When discussing oral health, most people refer to the absence of problems like dental caries and inflamed gums. That isn’t wrong, but as the World Health Organization’s Constitution states, health is also ‘a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.’ You may have a complete set of teeth, but are you confident about showing them?
Not for over half of adults who feel as awkward as during their teens, according to a survey of 2,000 Americans ages 25 to 45. Three-quarters aren’t confident about grinning for the camera, let alone showing their best smile.
However, half of the adults who wore braces for an average of roughly two years experienced a so-called ‘glow-up.’ It means they got through that awkward stage during their teen years, with half saying they got straighter teeth after using braces. They’re among the eight out of ten adults that saw a rise in self-esteem.
Professionals have debated whether braces are cosmetically or medically necessary for years (it should be noted that orthodontics is separate from cosmetic dentistry but related). Many agree that they’re cosmetic in most cases but don’t rule out their medical necessity when misaligned teeth cause problems like headaches and gum problems.
Being able to smile may seem insignificant, but it goes a long way in building one’s self-esteem. As one study by the University of California Davis revealed, you may not feel it right now, but every smile and other acts of self-esteem build up over time. It also doesn’t discriminate across the lines of gender, race, or religion.
Studied general dentistry
It’s worth noting that cosmetic dentistry isn’t its own dental degree. It isn’t even among the ten dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). That said, no cosmetic dentist becomes one without getting a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree, which the ADA says are the same.
As such, it isn’t unusual for cosmetic dentistry services to offer general dentistry ones. Patients won’t have to visit one dentist to address their teeth and gum problems and visit another to get much-needed bridges or implants. Nevertheless, it’s important to be picky about your choice of cosmetic dentist.
So, is cosmetic dentistry right for you? Yes.
It’s easy to focus on the ‘cosmetic’ part, but it’s worth remembering that a straight set of teeth can do wonders for your oral health. Apart from improving your self-esteem, it can make oral hygiene much easier, reducing the risk of tooth decay and other problems. And healthy teeth are always worth smiling about.