Being born with a perfect, “move star” smile is incredibly rare. Believe it or not, most of us will have to deal with a few minor imperfections, whether that’s a tooth that sticks out a bit or maybe teeth that look a little big. Fortunately, cosmetic changes to your teeth are not only possible, they’re extremely common. Whether you want to make your teeth look more rounded or you’ve gotten a chip you’d like to fix, there are lots of ways your dentist can change the appearance of your teeth to make sure your smile is exactly how you’d like it.
For minor changes to your teeth’s appearance, such as minor reshaping, evening out a pointy cuspid, or maybe smoothing out a tooth that’s a bit rough, the procedure is fairly simple and often quite cheap. If the tooth or teeth in question are otherwise free from decay, your dentist will use sanding pads to gently grind away very small bits of your enamel to reshape the tooth. This procedure is painless and often relatively inexpensive, but keep in mind that this can only be used to make very minor cosmetic changes.
Bonding, or the application of a tooth-colored composite to the tooth, is another non-invasive way to change the appearance of your teeth. Bonding is particularly good at fixing chips in the top of a tooth or filling gaps between teeth, and it can be colored to match the rest of your smile so it blends in seamlessly. This procedure is also painless, and the bonding material is cured quickly using a special light. That means you’ll be out of the chair and smiling more confidently ASAP!
For dramatic changes to your smile or to fix major damage, such as large breaks or chips in the tooth, veneers or caps are your best option. These are more expensive procedures than simple reshaping or bonding, and the procedures can be more invasive and require several visits. However, these may also be your only options if your teeth have existing fillings or root canals or are otherwise damaged, as the taking away of enamel during a simple reshaping may make the tooth more vulnerable and susceptible to breakage.
Porcelain veneers, often just called veneers, are very thin pieces of porcelain that are adhered to the front of the teeth using a strong dental cement. Veneers can create the appearance of larger teeth and can help fill gaps and create a more even-looking smile. As with reshaping, the process of applying veneers involves grinding away some of the enamel on the front of the teeth to make space for the pieces of porcelain. The veneers are then bonded to the teeth using a special cement, which is usually light-cured. The bonding process cannot be reversed once applied, and veneers often can’t be repaired if chipped or broken. Veneers can also be more expensive than a simple bonding or reshaping, but they can last for several years before needing to be replaced.
Crowns, also known as caps, are tooth-shaped porcelain or composite pieces that fit over the whole visible portion of the tooth, rather than just the front as with veneers. Your dentist will expertly color and shape your crown to match your existing smile exactly, which means you could have the opportunity to reshape a tooth that has otherwise stuck out or bothered you. It is, however, a more invasive procedure that will require several visits. The existing tooth will have to be ground down, and if it’s already weak or decayed a rod may need to be place to support the existing tooth. A root canal may also be necessary if the tooth is severely damaged. After this procedure, a temporary crown will then be made and placed over the remaining tooth while the permanent crown is made. Once the permanent crown is fabricated, it will be cemented into place and will look no different from your natural teeth — the results are quite remarkable!
The benefit of a crown is that it can be made for front and back teeth and they provide full coverage. A crown may also be your only option for an existing tooth that is heavily damaged or if you want extensive reshaping of a tooth, even if it’s healthy. Crowns can also be quite expensive and if you have many teeth you want to alter, veneers may be a less invasive and more cost-effective option.
Finally, another way to modify your smile is to adjust the gum line. Some people are born with excess gum tissue, which can cover some of the visible portion of the teeth and make the teeth appear smaller. Removing some of this excess tissue can make the teeth look more normal in size, without having to reshape the teeth themselves. Similarly, people who have a naturally low gum line or whose gums have receded due to gum disease might have too much of the tooth exposed, making them look very long. In this case, gum tissue can be added to raise the gum line and make the teeth appear smaller. Both of these procedures are invasive and require some healing time, but it is an option you can talk to your dentist about if you feel your gum line is too high or too low.
There are lots of ways to change the shape of your teeth, so don’t feel like you have to deal with a smile that makes you do anything other than, well, smile. From small changes made by a simple reshaping procedure to veneers that can dramatically alter the look of several teeth at once, ask your dentist about which kind of procedure would be best for you.
Have you had your teeth reshaped? Let us know about your experience in the comments!