Brought to you by Capitol Dental, expert(s) at Cosmetic Dentistry.

Cosmetic dentistry gives patients a reason to smile

Our smile is often the first impression we give others, and for many adults, chipped, dull, discolored or uneven teeth can result in self-consciousness.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99 percent of adults believe a smile is an important social aspect, while 74 percent feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person's chances for career success.

But individuals no longer have to be content with the teeth they were born with thanks to new cosmetic dentistry procedures, including whitening, bonding and veneers.

A great smile should improve self-confidence, which can have a positive impact on the social and professional aspects of life. Cosmetic dentistry is not just about pretty smiles though. New techniques and materials are available for back teeth as well.

Teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is the most-requested procedure done today. The process can help to lighten coffee stains, remove cigarette and tobacco discolorations, and even correct yellowing of teeth due to aging.
There are many options which can be customized to meet the needs of individual patients, but one choice is in-office power whitening.

In this procedure, a whitening gel containing a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide is applied to the teeth. Teeth whitening can often be accomplished in just one visit, although some dentists may recommend additional at-home whitening to enhance the effects.

Dentists can also provide patients with at-home whitening options, which are done as directed by the dentist. In this procedure, a patient wears a custom-fitted mouth tray containing a whitening gel for a few hours each day or night for one to two weeks.

The trays are not only custom-fit to the patient's mouth, but can be adjusted to help whiten individual teeth.


Bonding is tooth-colored material used to fill in gaps or change the color of teeth. Requiring a single office visit, bonding lasts several years.

Bonding is more susceptible to staining or chipping than other forms of restoration, but when teeth are chipped or slightly decayed, bonded composite resins may be the best choice.

Bonding also is used as a tooth-colored filling for small cavities and broken or chipped surfaces. Additionally, it can be used to close spaces between teeth or cover the entire outside surface of a tooth to change its color and shape.

In this process, an enamel-like material is applied to a tooth's surface, sculpted into shape, hardened and then polished for an ideal smile.

Crowns, also known as caps, are used in cases where other procedures will not be effective. Crowns have the longest life expectancy of all cosmetic restorations, but are the most time consuming.


Increasingly, patients are turning to veneers as an alternative to crowns. Veneers are thin, custom-made moldings that cover the fronts of unsightly teeth. They are crafted from tooth-colored, high-tech materials to portray a natural, bright smile.

Veneers cover unattractive gaps and can mask stained, misshapen or crooked teeth. Little or no anesthesia is needed in the procedure.

Veneers are intended to last for many years and, unlike most bonding materials, they will not change color over time. You should consult with your dentist to find out how long veneers will last.

The application of veneers requires that the tooth be reshaped to allow for the added thickness of the veneer. A molded image is taken from the tooth and sent to a dental laboratory where the veneer is custom-fitted to your mouth. The veneer is applied with adhesive material which bonds it to the original tooth structure.

Since veneers are individually sculpted for each patient, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the veneer and the natural tooth. Custom-made veneers also resist stains from coffee, tea and cigarette smoke because they are made of extremely polishable materials.

Veneers provide more strength when crushing an object than twisting or tearing. Therefore, just as with natural teeth, patients with veneers are advised to avoid opening nut shells and chewing on bones or any other matter that may cause the veneers to chip or crack.

When considering veneers, patients need to remember that the process is not reversible.


A replacement for dentures, implants are a stronger, more attractive option for replacing missing or lost teeth. An anchor is placed in the patient's jaw, and a life-like ceramic restoration is built around it and matched to the original tooth color.

Contouring and reshaping

Tooth reshaping and contouring, is a procedure to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or even overlapping teeth in a single session. It is commonly used to alter the length, shape or position of your teeth. Contouring teeth may also help correct small problems with bite.

This procedure is ideal for candidates with normal healthy teeth, but who want subtle changes to their smile. Your dentist will take X-rays to evaluate the size and location of the pulp of each tooth to ensure that there's enough bone between the teeth to support them.

Which procedure is right?

Your dentist can answer many of the questions you may have about techniques used to improve your smile. The condition of your teeth and desired result you want often dictates the best procedure. If you are considering a treatment, there are a few questions you can ask your dentist before deciding if a particular procedure is right for you.
What will the changes look like?
What should I expect through the course of treatment?
What type of maintenance will be required?

Your dentist will answer questions you may have about the procedure, maintenance and price to help you choose the treatment that best suits you.

How long will it take?

Treatment time varies for each person, depending on his or her needs. Sometimes, patients can dramatically improve your oral health and appearance in just a couple of visits. Most dentists will work to make treatments as convenient as possible, perhaps choosing slightly longer visits instead of more trips to the office. Talk to your dentist about your goals and concerns so the best plan can be developed for your individual situation.


The cost of cosmetic dental work depends on how much work is to be done. Like any cosmetic process, costs will increase with the amount of product or services completed. A cosmetic dentist can explain various prices and the best procedure. Also, some cosmetic dental options are covered by insurance.

Cosmetic dental work is probably not as expensive as you think. Investment in cosmetic dentistry is an investment in you. It can lead to an improved dental appearance and help improve self-esteem and overall confidence.

Look and feel

Generally, cemented restorations like crowns or veneers will require two visits - one to shape the teeth, and one to cement the restorations to the teeth. In between, a dentist can place attractive temporary restorations to help prevent sensitivity, allow function and provide a nice smile. These temporaries are designed to be in for a limited time, but should be comfortable and natural looking until work is completed.

Your dentist with work with you to choose the look that's right for you. A smile enhancement can be made to look dramatic and natural at the same time. Your dentist can use photographs and models to show you what to expect. Sometimes, trial materials can be placed directly on your teeth to help visualize the change. Ask your dentist what can be done to give you the smile you desire.

Information provided by The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and The Academy of General Dentistry