In today’s celebrity culture, glittering white, perfectly straight and even smiles are the norm. But perfecting your smile doesn’t have to just be for the stars. Many people who believe they have a deficient smile – perhaps their teeth are stained or uneven – can be reluctant to show off their teeth, leading to low self-esteem. There are plenty of options out there to help you feel more confident about flashing those pearly whites. It’s important to weigh which ones are right for you – in terms of commitment, cost, and of course, impact.
If you are concerned about how straight your teeth are, braces are a holistic way to improve the appearance of your smile. Braces work by exerting gentle force on your teeth over a long period of time, essentially nudging them straight. There are more options than ever for braces, from traditional metal braces to more invisible options, making them appropriate for children and adults alike. Braces also have long-term oral health benefits, by making your teeth easier to clean, improving your bite to avoid jaw strain, and increasing airflow. Braces do take a relatively long time to work – typically at least a year – and require careful maintenance and upkeep during and after their application. They also may not work in particularly severe cases, and will only help straighten your teeth – not even them out. However, braces are the only option for truly correcting alignment issues.
There are a range of natural and environmental causes for tooth staining. From a coffee habit or smoking to a genetic predisposition or a fever at a susceptible age, there are many reasons why you might not have a bright and white smile. The good news is, the advances in tooth whitening have made the process more simple and straightforward than ever. You may be able to get a quick teeth whitening treatment while sitting in the dentist chair, or you can obtain a customized take-home kit for daytime or overnight use. Keep in mind, most whitening treatments aren’t permanent, particularly if you keep up with tooth-staining habits like smoking or drinking dark beverages. While there are plenty of options to get those teeth sparkling, be sure whatever method you choose is safe – minimize tooth sensitivity by protecting your existing tooth enamel and avoiding gum irritation.
Many of those ‘perfect’ smiles you see on the big screen are actually veneers – where a thin piece of porcelain or composite resin custom-designed for your mouth is applied to the surface of the tooth with an adhesive. Veneers are useful for closing up gaps, correcting uneven teeth, concealing chips or cracks, and of course, whitening your smile. Traditional veneers will not only improve the cosmetic appearance of your smile, they also help protect your teeth. In order to look natural, veneers require a fair bit of tooth removal, making the transformation a permanent one. They can be costly and will require replacement about every 15-20 years.
New advancements in cosmetic dentistry have led to more sophisticated veneer options, like Lumineers. These ultra-thin porcelain shells are adhered to the front surfaces of your teeth. They offer all of the benefits of traditional veneers – and then some. Unlike traditional veneers, Lumineers require very little tooth shaping. In fact, some people can actually have Lumineers applied without any tooth removal, making the procedure reversible and thus more desirable.
Sometimes you just need a little fix to have a big impact on your smile. A chipped, broken, or discoloured tooth can be improved on through composite bonding. This process involves applying a resin compound to the affected area, and sealing it with a bright light. In fact, the process isn’t too different from getting a filling – the difference is the composite is carefully blended to match with your tooth color, to seamlessly correct any defects. While composite bonding is a great choice for fixing single teeth, it is not a solution for your entire mouth.
Not ready to make the jump into full-fledged cosmetic dentistry? There are temporary, cost-effective options. Snap-On Smiles do just as they say; resting on top of your natural teeth all the way up to your gums for a radiant smile that can be removed as easily as it can be applied. Snap-On Smiles are not permanent solutions, but they’re great if you’ve got an upcoming event you’d like to perfect your smile for or if you want to try out a new smile before undergoing additional treatments to obtain it for life.