Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in recent years, offering a wide range of treatments to enhance the appearance of our smiles. From teeth whitening and veneers to dental implants and orthodontics, the options are vast. However, once you’ve invested time and money into improving your smile, the next question is: how do you ensure the longevity of your cosmetic dental work? Here’s a guide to making your radiant smile last for years to come.
Understanding Cosmetic Dental Treatments and Restorations
Before delving into how to extend the lifespan of your cosmetic dental work, let’s take a quick look at the different types of cosmetic dental treatments and restorations that you may have. Here’s an overview of these treatments:
- Teeth Whitening: This is one of the simplest and most popular cosmetic treatments. It involves bleaching the teeth to remove stains and lighten their appearance.
- Dental Veneers: Custom-made shells, typically made of porcelain, that cover the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance.
- Dental Bonding: A tooth-colored resin is applied to the tooth and hardened with a special light, bonding the material to the tooth to improve its appearance.
- Tooth Reshaping and Contouring: This involves altering the tooth to improve its appearance by removing or modifying enamel.
- Orthodontics and Invisalign: While traditional braces correct tooth alignment, Invisalign offers a clear alternative for straightening teeth without visible metal braces.
- Dental Crowns: Also known as caps, these are used to entirely cover a damaged tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape, or alignment.
- Dental Bridges: These are used to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges span the space where the teeth are missing and are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space.
- Dental Implants: These are replacement tooth roots made of titanium. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth.
- Dentures: These are removable replacements for missing teeth and the surrounding tissues. They can be complete (replacing all teeth) or partial (replacing some teeth).
- Inlays and Onlays: Made from gold, porcelain, or composite materials, they are used to fill decayed or damaged teeth. Inlays are similar to fillings and fit inside the tooth, while onlays cover one or more points of the tooth or cover the biting surface.
Making Your Smile Last
Regular Dental Check-ups
Regular visits to your dentist are important to maintain your cosmetic dental treatments because they ensure that any potential issues are caught early, before they can cause damage to your cosmetic work. Additionally, regular dental cleanings remove excess plaque and tartar buildup and keep your teeth looking their best. For these reasons, it is essential to schedule check-ups at least twice a year. Your dentist will not only check for cavities but also ensure that your cosmetic work remains in top condition.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene is also important since plaque and tartar build-up can compromise the appearance and integrity of cosmetic dental work. Not only does excess plaque and tartar build up increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, but it can also cause premature staining in the case of whitening and veneer treatments. To prevent plaque and tartar build up, brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush. You will also need to floss daily and consider using an antimicrobial mouthwash.
Protect Your Teeth
You will also need to protect your teeth since physical trauma can damage or dislodge veneers, crowns, and other cosmetic treatments. Even if your restorations are not damaged, bad dental habits can still cause them to wear down faster and can increase the risk of tooth decay in the surrounding areas. To protect your teeth, avoid using your teeth as tools (e.g., to open bottles) and refrain from biting on hard objects like ice or hard candy. If you play contact sports, you will also need to remember to always wear a mouthguard.
Mind Your Diet
Another way to maintain your smile is to pay attention to your diet since certain foods and drinks can stain your teeth, diminishing the brightness of whitening treatments or porcelain veneers. You can decrease the risk of staining by limiting your consumption of coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-colored berries. When you do indulge, consider using a straw for drinks that stain and rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Avoid Grinding and Clenching
Grinding or clenching your teeth can cause wear and tear on cosmetic dental work. This additional wear and tear can cause cosmetic dental restorations to wear down faster and it can also cause them to become chipped or cracked. Therefore, if you’re prone to grinding your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about getting a night guard. You can also try relaxation techniques to reduce stress, a common cause of teeth grinding.
Follow Post-Treatment Care Instructions
Another easy way to maintain your cosmetic dental treatment results is to follow any post-treatment instructions. After receiving cosmetic dental treatment, there may be specific care instructions to ensure the longevity of the work. Always follow your dentist’s post-treatment care instructions. This may include avoiding certain foods, using specific oral care products, or taking medications.
Choose a Skilled Cosmetic Dentist
Finally, it is important to choose a skilled cosmetic dentist since the expertise of your dentist plays a crucial role in the longevity of your cosmetic dental work. Do your research and choose a dentist with a solid reputation in cosmetic dentistry. Check for credentials, reviews, and before-and-after photos of their work. It is also important to look for cosmetic dentists that are recognized by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Cosmetic dental work is an investment in your smile and self-confidence. By taking proactive steps to care for your teeth and following your dentist’s recommendations, you can enjoy the benefits of your enhanced smile for many years. Remember, the key to longevity is a combination of professional dental care and diligent at-home maintenance. So, smile with pride and take good care of that dazzling grin!
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.