Cosmetic dentistry can correct crooked or misaligned teeth. In the past, orthodontics was the only solution to major cosmetic problems, but with advances in cosmetic dentistry techniques, crowns, bonding, and veneers can correct many of these issues. Each treatment has advantages and disadvantages, and not all procedures are the best solution for every patient. Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the options.
Braces have been the primary solution for crooked teeth for decades. There are many types, including both fixed and removable braces, used to correct such cosmetic issues as gaps, angled and protruding teeth, and problems causing uneven tooth wear. When your braces are removed, you must wear a retainer to keep your teeth in place.
Braces correct significant alignment problems without damaging the teeth. They’re temporarily cemented onto your teeth so you don’t lose enamel, tooth structure, or strength. It is the most permanent solution to many problems.
On the downside, braces are a lengthy treatment requiring many appointments to assess their progress. It does not protect against natural aging that causes bone loss, making your teeth spread apart again.
Bonding, Crowns, and Veneers
Dental bonding is a liquid material the dentist uses to fill in small gaps or to build up the edge of a tooth. Your dentist bonds crowns (false teeth) over broken, short or decayed teeth when you’ve damaged their surface, but the tooth is still intact and has healthy roots. They can also use veneers, which are thin layers of porcelain or tooth-like materials your dentist bonds to the front part of your tooth to improve the look of recessed teeth, cover damages or stains, and make teeth appear whiter. In any case, after the cosmetic work your dentist dries the bonding material with an ultraviolet light so it looks and functions like your natural teeth.
Bonding quickly fixes gaps and small imperfections, and with proper care, can stay forever. It uses an artificial material that doesn’t decay. Crowns are perfect for when only a few teeth have cosmetic problems. They don’t decay and can eliminate the need for more complex tooth replacements. Veneers are a quick way to restore many imperfections in only a few appointments.
Unfortunately, crowns, veneers, and bonding require the removal of healthy tooth enamel so they can adhere. Once your dentist removes part of your tooth or grinds it off, it’s gone forever; extensive cosmetic work can mean losing a lot of enamel, which makes your teeth weaker.
Crowns are susceptible to stress and can eventually come loose. Each time you replace a crown, you lose more of your tooth. To place veneers, your dentist must file the entire tooth surface to the gum line, which is uncomfortable. Bonding is effective at filling small gaps and imperfections, but looks unnatural when used on larger gaps.
Only a dentist can tell you which option is best for you. Bonding and veneers create what look like perfect teeth, but they don’t move your teeth into new positions. Braces align your teeth, but won’t fix chips or uneven surface wear. Your dentist must check your dental health and condition as well as your occlusion (bite alignment) to decide how successful a cosmetic procedure will be.
Dentists have many ways to make crooked, uneven, and misaligned teeth look straight. With all the cosmetic dentistry techniques available today, it’s possible to avoid braces and get straighter teeth in a few visits.