What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

teeth whitening

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry, or sometimes called esthetic dentistry, is a kind of dentistry that focuses on achieving positive results with the overall appearance of your teeth. A cosmetic dentist aims to create a beautiful smile, by helping patients maintain the function, health and appearance of their teeth for their lifetime. There are many different methods of cosmetic dentistry, and in this article we’ll explore some of those types and what they can do to improve the appearance of your teeth.

You can trust a cosmetic dentist to work with you to develop a treatment plan that works with your budget and is of an appropriate timeline. Consult with your dentist next visit about what services they offer for cosmetic dentistry. Some types of cosmetic dentistry can help restore lost or damaged teeth, so it’s not all about appearances.

Types of Cosmetic Dentistry

Teeth Whitening

Over time, teeth can become discolored and worn from food and drink, or by things like medication or smoking. Teeth whitening is one of the most basic and simplest of cosmetic dentistry procedures. You can often get your teeth whitened as part of your six-month check up.

Teeth whitening should be done after the teeth have been cleaned of plaque and tartar, to help restore their natural appearance. You can request that the dentist apply a teeth whitener after your six month cleanings, and it will often be combined with a flouride paste that they apply.

Teeth whitening can even be done in the comfort of your own home, with the use of tooth-whitening toothpaste, or whitestrips. Generally, this is the cheapest way to get a better looking smile and works perfectly for people who just want to lighten up their smile.

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are thin shells, made generally of medical-grade ceramic, that are applied directly to the front of the teeth by a cosmetic dentist using a strong adhesive. They are made individually for each patient and resemble your natural smile. They can look extremely realistic and are a permanent way to get a great smile.

Dental veneers can resolve a number of cosmetic issues, from crooked teeth with sizable gaps, to cracked or damaged teeth. Because each veneer is custom made, the cost can range in the hundreds to thousands of dollars. But, for those who are looking for a perfect smile, or want to restore their smile to its natural beauty, veneers are a great option.

Also consider the type of material the veneer will be made out of. For example, porcelain veneers can resist stains and reflect light better than resin veneers. Consult with your cosmetic dentist to see which kind veneers are a good option for you.

In order to prepare the tooth for the veneers, about half a millimeter of enamel will be removed from the outer surface of the tooth before a mold of your tooth is taken. This mold is then used to create your custom veneer, and take a number of weeks before the dentist can bond the veneers to your teeth. After they are bonded to your teeth, a follow up visit may be necessary to check to see how your gums respond to the placement of the veneers.


Braces are used when a patient has crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, such as an overbite or underbite. A variety of treatments and types of braces and retainers can help correct teeth alignment. Some cases will only require a removable retainer, but is most common for most cases to need braces.

Braces not only help improve the look of your smile, but help keep your teeth aligned so that when chewing you don’t have slippage or uneven tooth wear. Braces are also infinitely customizable, and work by applying continuous pressure to your teeth to slowly change them in a specific direction.

They are made up of brackets that are bonded directly to the teeth which hold arch wires that move the teeth. Brackets can be stainless steel, or tooth-colored ceramic or plastic to help hide the appearance of the bracers. Brackets can also be cemented to the back of the teeth to help hide them from view. New “mini-braces” may be an option for you, as they are much smaller than traditional braces. Talk with your cosmetic dentist to see what option of bracers can help you fix a crowded smile.

Composite Bonding

Composite bonding is the repair of decayed, damaged, or discolored teeth with a material that resembles the natural color of tooth enamel. A cosmetic dentist will drill out the tooth decay before applying the composite to the tooth and then sculpting it to the right shape before curing it with a high-intensity light. Composite bonding, or simply “bonding”, is one of the least expensive cosmetic procedures for patients with damage or decayed teeth.

Composite bonding is a great alternative to silver fillings, as they allow you to retain the original color of the tooth and repair the damage that might be present on the tooth. Each bonding session generally takes between thirty minutes to an hour, and can cost only a few hundred dollars. Composite bonding is a great alternative to consider if you need a filling, but don’t want a silver filling.

Inlays and Onlays

Also called indirect fillings, inlays and onlays are used when a tooth has mild to moderate decay or there is not enough tooth structure to support a filling. The difference between the two has to do with whether or not there is damage to the tooth cusps. If there is no damage to the tooth cusps, then an inlay is placed directly onto the tooth surface. If the cusp is damaged an onlay is used to cover the entire tooth.

They are generally made in a dental laboratory from a composite resin material, and attached with an adhesive dental cement. They are a great option for when you need to provide greater support to your teeth and restore their shape while avoiding further decay or deterioration.