Some dentists like to call themselves cosmetic dentists. That’s fine as long as people realise that this is not a specialty, that it is merely a focus the dentist has, and they may have done courses that were dedicated to cosmetics. The reality is that cosmetics/aesthetics is an inherent part of everything we do as dentists. As in any field, some are better at it than others. Any dentist “worth their salt” will have made an effort throughout his or her career to keep up to date with concepts, techniques and materials available to get best cosmetic outcomes, and have good communication with their laboratory who is often closely involved with cosmetic work.
Cosmetics/aesthetics in dentistry covers many things. From something basic (but not necessarily simple!) such as tooth whitening and white fillings, through to porcelain crowns and veneers, Orthodontics and Orthognathic surgery (the surgical repositioning of the upper and or lower jaws).
No one treatment is better than another. Every person’s situation is unique, so there is no “one size fits all” treatment. When we assess a patient’s dental cosmetic needs, the number one priority is establishing a patient’s expectations. It’s important for the dentist to ask the right questions and to listen carefully to the patient’s answers. It sounds basic, but it’s surprising how often this is badly done.
In the coming months, I will be providing information about various dental cosmetic treatments.
An example of a cosmetic treatment that can work very well is orthodontic treatment.
“Wait a minute!”, you cry. “that's for kids, and besides, I wouldn’t want to pay all that money and wear braces for two years!” Read on, you may be surprised…
Orthodontic treatment has mostly, until more recent years, been mainly the domain of specialist orthodontist, but many general practitioner dentists are now providing this treatment (albeit usually in a more limited form). It has also been associated more with treatment of children, but more and more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment, no doubt you have seen adults with braces. Its very common for me to see patients that had braces as a child, and now teeth have moved and crowded again as an adult. There is a reason for this that I wont go into right now.
There is a good chance many of you have heard of the system “Invisalign” for straightening teeth, as it’s pretty heavily marketed. It’s one of several similar systems under the category of “aligners”. They are a series of thin rigid “mouthguard” like trays that are removable, and together with little bonded bits placed on the teeth, gradually move teeth into the desired position. This is a very popular system as it doesn't involve traditional braces, they are removable for cleaning and eating, and it can be difficult to tell someone is wearing them.
Wonderful! I hear you say.
Wait, if you are anything like me, you know nothing is perfect and there are always trade offs. What are they?
Firstly, aligners have significant limitations with what tooth movements can be achieved compared to traditional braces.
- It can still take a long time to straighten teeth, usually two years for many cases.
- Most of these systems are expensive for what they are.
- Many of these systems have poor professional back up. That means that if a general practitioner dentist is using this system, and things are not going to plan, he doesn’t have anyone to turn to.
I discovered a lot of these factors when I started researching orthodontic systems to use in my practice.
If you want the most comprehensive orthodontic assessment and treatment you are always better off going to see a specialist Orthodontist. This is important if you are looking to do more than just align/straighten your teeth. Often, however, we just want to make our teeth look straighter.
The system I use is called “Smilefast”. It uses conventional braces, but with a difference.
- Ceramic/tooth coloured brackets
- Tooth coloured wires
- No metal bands on back teeth
- Predictable and controlled tooth movement compared to aligners
- Most treatments completed in under nine months
- The system is created and overseen by qualified orthodontists
- Ongoing training for general practitioners using the system
- 80% of people with crowded or crooked teeth are suitable for this system
Are you wondering if you’re suitable for Smilefast? I’m happy to have a brief consultation with anyone who is interested, at no cost, to see if this is right for you