Do you smile with your mouth closed? Or, when you laugh, do you put your hand in front of your mouth so people don’t see your teeth? If so, you’re not alone. Only 7% of Americans are happy with the appearance of their teeth. Surveys show that 61% of Americans wish they could change something about it. Here are the top three cosmetic changes people would like to make:
- Improve the whiteness of their teeth
- Repair crooked teeth or receding gums
- Fix gaps or spaces between teeth
There are several dental options available to help people improve their smiles. Review three things to know about cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.
1. Understand the options – Cosmetic dental procedures can improve the appearance of your smile. There are seven common procedures:
- Teeth whitening: Many people want to show dazzling white teeth when they smile. Often, people use over-the-counter tooth-whitening kits to remove stains from their teeth. However, about 58% of people have their teeth whitened professionally at the dentist’s office.
- Implants: People lose teeth due to accidents or poor oral health. A dentist can help replace missing teeth with an implant. The implant usually is made of titanium and surgically inserted in the jawbone where the missing tooth was located. A dental implant can replace a tooth or teeth and anchor a crown, bridge or denture without compromising neighboring teeth. Currently, about 6% of Americans have dental implants. Experts project use will increase to 23% by 2026.
- Crowns: A crown is made to fit over a whole tooth. Made of an acrylic or porcelain material that is fused to metal, crowns can hide teeth with large fillings, cover spaces between teeth and hide broken or chipped teeth.
- Veneers: A veneer is a thin porcelain or cosmetic shell applied to teeth. It is custom-fitted and cemented to the tooth’s front side. It can enhance people’s smiles by covering teeth that are chipped, discolored or slightly crooked. Veneers are meant to be permanent, lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
- Shaping: A dentist can use tools to reshape teeth by filling or removing enamel.
- Bonding: The dentist applies tooth-colored materials to repair teeth that are chipped or broken. Bonding also can enhance the appearance of a tooth that is stained.
- Orthodontia: Many teens and adults get orthodontic treatments like braces to fix crooked teeth or misaligned bites. The appliance puts pressure on teeth to nudge them slowly into the correct position.
2. Identify your goals – Schedule an appointment with a dentist who performs cosmetic procedures to discuss options. Talk about the changes you’d like to make to enhance the appearance of your smile. The dentist will review the pros and cons of different procedures.
Some dentists even have computer software to show patients how cosmetic corrections will look when completed. This process helps patients visualize the cosmetic dental changes and how their teeth will look.
3. Review costs – Most dental insurance carriers do not cover cosmetic procedures unless the dentist indicates it is medically necessary. For example, cosmetic shaping procedures can fix teeth to improve a patient’s bite, reducing headaches and making chewing easier.
However some plans, such as an Ameritas individual dental plan, offer coverage for cosmetic teeth whitening (also known as bleaching) and child orthodontia. Those who work for an employer are most likely offered dental insurance as well. These group plans can include benefits toward teeth whitening, dental implants and orthodontia benefits for adults and children.
So, when discussing cosmetic options with the dentist, ask for an itemized list of costs. In addition, check out our dental cost estimator. Review this information to decide if you want to invest in improving your smile. Remember, a dazzling smile makes an excellent first impression.