Smile Makeover FAQs Part 2

Questions about dental smile makeovers are very popular and we hope you will find our answers of help:

Does it hurt to do a smile makeover? I am really scared of dentistry.

Answer:  No it does not hurt to have any form of dentistry today and generally, ‘cosmetic’ dentistry involves even less ‘sensation’ than other treatments…. as it tends to be less invasive. Even if some teeth need some ‘reshaping’ which involves a degree of enamel cutting, you should not feel that being done.

For particularly anxious patients, some practitioners (in addition, of course, to a calm, gentle, unhurried approach) do use additional techniques such as hypnosis, sedation and even acupuncture. One of the most successful and safest techniques is the use of ‘relaxing gas'(Nitrous Oxide with Oxygen); a technique very commonly used to relax women in labor. It is very safe.

I have crooked teeth. I hate them but I don’t want rail-track braces.

Crooked teeth before smile makeover
Crooked teeth before smile makeover

 Answer:  Generally, crooked teeth can be treated in one of two ways.  Straightening them or ‘ making them look ‘ as if they have been straightened. The former involves physical movement (and so…. actual change of position of the teeth) and is called orthodontics. The latter involves changing the appearances of the front surfaces of teeth and is called ‘veneering’. It may also sometimes require some reshaping, which requires a little cutting of tooth enamel, to be done instead of or together with veneering of a tooth.  Today, orthodontics can involve ‘internal’ braces (the ‘rail tacks‘ are on the inside of the teeth)…..or clear removable plastic aligners (e.g. ‘Invisalign’),  both are not visible to others. Obviously, orthodontics is much more time consuming than veneering. It is important to speak to an experienced dentist, who would explain the ‘pros and cons’ of each treatment approach for an individual patient.

 I want whiter teeth. Does it hurt, how much will it cost and how long does it last?

 Answer: Teeth can be whitened ( often called ‘ bleached’) in a variety of ways. Most commonly this is done by placing an oxidizing gel into small thin mouth guards that fit over the teeth and are left in place for an hour or more a day, or overnight for between a few days or weeks. Additionally, a stronger form of the gel can be applied directly to the tooth surfaces by a dental professional in the surgery for a couple of hours, often under a ‘special’ light.

Crooked teeth after smile makever
Crooked teeth after smile makever

Another technique sometimes advocated is strips or tapes of material, containing the oxidizing agent, placed over the teeth surfaces, each day for a while. The oxidizing gel is either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. What has been shown not to work generally are tooth whitening pastes and solutions sold over the counter at chemists.

Many patients seek tooth whitening as a solution to their dental aesthetic problems when in fact, other dental procedures are more appropriate for their situation and/or concerns. Synthetic materials such as composite or porcelain cannot be whitened. So often, tooth whitening is done prior (and not after), say, veneering or crowning in the ‘aesthetic’ or smile zone.

 I have a dark front tooth, what can I do about it?

 Answer: Almost always a ‘dark’ tooth is one that at some stage ( sometimes, many years before) has had the nerve removed and been root canal treated. If that had been done properly, these are ‘healthy’ teeth, although they are ‘dead’.

Occasionally a chronically infected tooth that has been untreated may show up as ‘dark’, even with little or no discomfort. Such a tooth may well need root canal treatment.  Also it is not uncommon for nature to do its own root canal treatment (the nerve canal ‘closes up’ over time, on its own) naturally resulting in a yellower tooth. It is painless and does not require root canal treatment.

Any dark tooth must be checked and x-rayed by a dentist to check its health status. For aesthetic and sometimes ‘strengthening’ reasons, such teeth often need crowning or veneering. This is often required to be done in the ‘smile zone’ for aesthetic reasons to colour-match (lighten) such a tooth to its neighbours.

Read our blog next week and find out what can be done about ‘goofy ‘ upper front teeth, how to improve a smile quickly and not too expensively, what can be done about short and stubby teeth and how do find some really good advice about dental aesthetics.