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Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
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Considering Cosmetic Dentistry

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space placeholder. Factors To Consider.
space placeholder. Imaging.
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space placeholder. Factors To Consider
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Everyone would like to have a perfect smile, but nature is rarely so accommodating. Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who never needed braces. Still, the rough-and-tumble of life can result in chips. Your teeth may look dingy. Habits such as smoking or drinking coffee also stain teeth.

Until fairly recently, the average person couldn't do much about how teeth looked. In the past two decades, however, dental materials and techniques have greatly improved. Now, most people can have almost model-perfect teeth using materials that resist color changes and are almost as strong as the originals.

There's never been a better time to brighten your smile or fix imperfections. Demand for cosmetic dental procedures is greater than ever. That's partly because baby boomers with money to spend are looking for ways to feel and look younger.

However, you should keep a few things in mind while making your decision:

  • It can be expensive. For example, porcelain tooth veneers may cost $600 to $2,000 per tooth.

  • Insurance doesn't cover most cosmetic procedures.

  • Materials aren't indestructible. Crowns, inlays and veneers are stronger and more durable than they used to be, but they won't last forever. They may crack or chip or the cement may weaken. They may have to be redone within 10 to 15 years.

  • It's important to be realistic. Cosmetic dentists are enhancers. They can manipulate, shape and polish materials to create dazzling smiles. What they can't do is change the shape of your mouth or your overall appearance. In order for tooth restorations to truly look natural, they have to work for you. Cosmetic dentistry can improve your appearance; it won't completely transform it.

One of the benefits of cosmetic dentistry is that the final results are easy to predict, if only cosmetic problems are being fixed. Whether you decide to have a gap filled, a chip repaired or a stain concealed, you're unlikely to have unpleasant surprises later. But if the work is more extensive, such as a full mouth reconstruction, then results are not as predictable.

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space placeholder. Imaging
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Technology now makes it possible to view before-and-after images of your teeth before the work even begins. The technique is called computer imaging. It gives you an idea of what your teeth will look like after the procedure is done.

A dentist who has this technology can project an image of your teeth on a computer monitor. Then, while you watch, the dentist can "correct" the imperfection or modify your teeth on the screen.

Imaging may not be needed. If you want a chipped tooth filled or a space between teeth narrowed, you may be able to picture that easily. If you are considering something more complex or involving more than one tooth, however, imaging can be helpful.

Many, although not all, cosmetic dentists use computer imaging in their practices.

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  See Also . . .
Solution Sleuth
Smile Makeovers: Cosmetic Dentistry Today
Whiter Teeth: What Works?
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