Cosmetic, or aesthetic, dentistry focuses on improving appearance and facial self-image by correcting the alignment, shape, and color of teeth. Dental professionals who offer cosmetic options can improve the appearance of stained, chipped, and misshapen teeth, and correct uneven gums and replace old fillings with nearly invisible filling materials. Cosmetic dentistry procedures are elective and, therefore, often not covered by insurance.
The most popular option in cosmetic dentistry is tooth bleaching, an area that is experiencing a 15 to 20% growth a year. Most dental practices offer tooth bleaching, which involves the use of at-home and in-office supervised whitening systems that brighten stained, discolored, or dull-looking teeth.
Veneers are the second most popular cosmetic dentistry option. Used to correct chipped, cracked or worn teeth, veneers are ultra thin tooth coverings, sometimes made of porcelain or composite materials. Bonding is another process also used to correct chipped, cracked, or worn teeth.
Crowns, dental bridges, and dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth or correct bite dysfunction. Today's newer technology includes porcelain and ceramic tooth replacements that look real and blend with existing teeth.
Cosmetic dentists can correct excessive or uneven gums with cosmetic surgery. Many patients with old or unsightly fillings also can opt to have them replaced by a dentist, who can use resin and porcelain filling materials or crowns to eliminate the look of the previous fillings.
Lisette Hilton, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,