What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

By Carol Waldman May 22, 2015

Today there is barely dental office without these words written on the window or signage: Cosmetic Dentistry. But exactly what does it mean? What is cosmetic dentistry? Well to me here in North York, Cosmetic Dentistry has two different meanings.

1. Cosmetic Dentistry Means Doing Dental Work That is Undetectable

Cosmetic Dentistry, can mean doing all dental work in a manner that is undetectable, and leaving the tooth, after repair or replacement, looking completely natural. An example of this can be found every day in my family dentistry practice.

In my practice in North York, when a tooth needs a restoration, commonly referred to as a filling, it is done with a very esthetic tooth colored material called composite resin. These resins come in a large range of shades to match all tooth colors from ultra bleached bright to a dark, almost brown color. While most dentists around the world use a one-shade-fits-all color of this material, I often choose to use multiple shades of composite resin in a single tooth to attempt to mimic their natural color as closely as possible. This may involve using an enamel shade which is fairly translucent (like glass), a body shade which is a moderately more opaque than enamel, or a dentin shade which is highly opaque. Use of these differing opacities is crucial to making the restored tooth appear as natural as possible and not like a tooth with a “filling”.

By using these materials, restorations can be nearly invisible.

2. Cosmetic Dentistry Also Means Dental Reconstruction


The other aspect of Cosmetic Dentistry is reconstruction. This involves not reproducing what was previously present, but rather changing and improving the appearance of one tooth or multiple teeth. If someone doesn’t like the overall appearance of their smile, cosmetic dentistry can help patients get the smile that they always wanted. While many people think that this means just placing veneers on the teeth, that isn’t accurate. It take a lot of careful evaluation of each patient’s smile to determine the best course of action to improve not only the appearance but also the function of their teeth.

Many times, porcelain veneers are not the answer. The patient may only need to have their teeth straightened with orthodontic treatments like braces or Invisalign. They may only need to have their teeth whitened to achieve the great smile they desire. Other times, it may mean moving teeth that have shifted out of position into their correct place in the dental arch, and replacing missing teeth with implants.

As you can see, Cosmetic Dentistry is much more than just a phrase on the door of many dental offices. Determination of what treatment and how to provide it for each patient requires a thorough understanding of a multitude of areas of dentistry. These include not only esthetics, but also the study of “Occlusion” (how patients bite and function with their teeth), Orthodontics (moving of teeth with braces or Invisalign), Implants (replacing missing teeth), and Periodontics (the field of treating the gums). After all, the appearance of the pink gums is just as important as the teeth in providing a beautiful smile!

So if you or someone you know is considering have a total smile makeover or just having some basic work done in an esthetic and natural manner, make sure that the dentist you choose is educated in a wide range of dental services. This education is necessary to help choose the right treatment solution and to provide the care in a more than competent manner.

If you would like to see examples of cosmetic dentistry completed in my office, please check out our Smile Make-Overs gallery to see some spectacular results!!!