While looking for a dentist, you may notice the term ‘cosmetic surgery’ or ‘cosmetic dentistry’ used to describe services provided. What does cosmetic surgery include and how can you find the best dentist for your job?
Defining Cosmetic Dentistry
First, you will find two types of surgery that fall under the realm of plastic surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery aims to repair normal function. Cosmetic surgery refers to non-essential or elective surgery to improve your appearance.
So as it relates to dental work, what does cosmetic surgery include? Any work that improves the appearance of your teeth, gums or bite without regard to actual function.
However, some cosmetic dental work can subsequently improve your oral health too. For example, tooth-colored porcelain fillings will look better. But they may also require less removal of your natural tooth structure than traditional metal fillings.
Cosmetic “surgery” or dentistry may involve the addition or removal of material to or from your teeth. Some dentists prefer “tooth-friendly” cosmetic dentistry, which refers to procedures that generally will not do anything “irreversible” to your teeth. Examples are teeth whitening, some shorter-term orthodontics and resin bonding.
Today, the most common form of cosmetic “surgery” is teeth whitening, or teeth bleaching. You may do this gradually with over-the-counter products, or you may have treatments like ZOOM performed by your dentist to whiten your teeth in just one visit.
Besides teeth whitening, other cosmetic dental procedures may include:
- Bonding—composite material is added to fill in chip or gap
- Porcelain veneers—thin laminates are bonded directly to your teeth to fill in gaps or alter the color of your teeth
- Teeth straightening—using orthodontics like braces or Invisalign
- Contouring, reshaping or enameloplasty—filing the teeth for a smoother finish
- Crowns—a tooth colored cap that restores a tooth’s shape and/or color
- Gum graft, gum lift or gingivectomy—reshaping the tissue or underlying bones to make your teeth appear more symmetrical
- Gum depigmentation—removing black spots or patches from your gums
- Bridges, dentures and implants—installing false teeth that will fill in gaps from missing teeth
Note that some health insurance providers will not cover cosmetic dentistry if the procedure does not also enhance the health of your teeth. Always consult with your dentist and insurance provider prior to agreeing to any cosmetic dental work.
Finding a Qualified Dentist for Cosmetic Surgery
It’s important to note that cosmetic dentistry is not deemed a specialty by the ADA. That’s why most dentists will offer cosmetic dentistry as a category of services, rather than using the term to indicate a specialty.
Before you commit to cosmetic dental work, ask your dentist several questions:
- Will you have to remove or add to my natural teeth?
- What will the changes look like? Can I see before and after picture examples?
- What happens during the treatment?
- What maintenance is required afterwards?
- Will the treatment need to be repeated?
- May I have names of patients as references?
- May I see proof of certification and continuing education in this area?
So when it comes to the question of ‘what does cosmetic surgery’ include for your mouth, it may include a variety of treatments that focus on making your smile better, without regard to function of your teeth. Some of the procedures might also add function, depending on your individual case.
When you choose The Happy Tooth for your cosmetic dental work, we will happily answer all your questions and help determine the treatment that produces the results you want—a brighter smile!