Modern dentistry has given people a way to customize their smiles and greatly improve their appearance. New and improved techniques in cosmetic dentistry provide dentists with the flexibility to work with patients and achieve their cosmetic goals. Two excellent and cost-effective treatment options are gum-lifts and bonded-bridges.
Gum-lifts (gingivectomy) involve the removal of gum to make the teeth appear longer, and the gum-line even. People who have excess gum covering the front teeth and an upper lip that comes up high when they smile are often self-conscious about their “gummy” smile. To correct this problem, the dentist numbs the area and removes the excess gum. The patient is instructed to use an antibiotic mouth rinse such as Peridex on a Q-tip and apply upward pressure on the gums as they heal. A gum-lift is not painful, but some mild discomfort can be expected a day or two after the procedure. The gum is not damaged due to the procedure as long as the dentist has experience, and removes the proper amount. The procedure can usually be completed in about 30 minutes.
A bonded-bridge can replace a missing tooth in far less time and for less money than a porcelain bridge or an implant. It is basically a resin or porcelain tooth attached to resin or metal wings on either side of it. It is ideal for replacing a missing tooth in the front of the mouth, where biting forces are not that strong.
The procedure involves removing a small amount of the inside of the teeth on either side of the missing one and then taking an impression or mold. The laboratory makes the bonded-bridge, which can then be adhered to the backs of the teeth surrounding the missing one. I prefer the all resin bonded bridge because it is more esthetic (no metal shows through or “grays” the surrounding teeth) and does not have to be re-cemented nearly as much as a metal bonded-bridge. The procedure takes about two half-hour visits and costs about one third as much as a permanent bridge or implant.
Cosmetic dentistry is both an art and a science. Training and experience counts. Patients seeking cosmetic dentistry should ask their dentist to see before and after pictures of other patients who have received similar treatment. Most importantly, make sure that you communicate what your goals and expectations are prior to treatment. Excellent communication between you and your dentist is an essential ingredient for all cosmetic dental procedures.