The number one way is to bleach your teeth! This can easily be done with Crest white strips, tray bleaching or chairside bleaching with your dentist. Tray bleaching is my preferred method, since it can be touched up easily and affordably in a night or two. Chairside bleaching is ok, but it can require multiple costly treatments and touchups are can be expensive if not included in the initial fee. White Strips have the same cost each time they are used and many of my patients have found them yucky!
The number two way is bonding. If you have a misshapen or rotated tooth or if the shapes of your teeth create a smile you don’t like, then a trained dentist can painlessly change your smile by adding a bonded composite material to your teeth. Minimally bonded smiles can look great and tend to look more natural than a fully veneered smile. When people see your new smile, they usually notice your own, natural teeth, not the small altered portion. Bonding, combined with a prior bleaching treatment, is one of your best options for teeth that look wonderful. Although bonded teeth can look great, they do sometimes pick up stain and the texture bonded surfaces can change over time.
The number three way is Crowns or implants. Use these options to fix any individual unsightly or missing teeth. All Porcelain (metal free) Crowns cover a tooth and tend to strengthen it, while remaining extremely esthetic. They do require considerable reduction of tooth. Although crowns often improve a tooth’s ability to withstand the vertical forces involved with chewing, they sometimes weaken its ability to withstand horizontal forces (dentists don’t like to make crowns for prize fighters!). If you need a single tooth replacement, an implant is often a terrific way to replace it, assuming you have enough bone remaining in the space to hold an implant. To have an implant tooth, first your dentist inserts an implant in the bone where you lost a tooth. The implant almost looks like a titanium version of the plastic inserts people place into plaster walls to hold screws. After the implant has been in your mouth from 4-6 months it’s ready for your dentist to screw in a post and fabricate a crown. Implant crowns also can be all porcelain (metal free). Sometimes implant sites need to be grafted with bone prior to implant placement to improve cosmetics and the function of the final implant crown.
The number four way is to keep teeth clean. Use an electric toothbrush; my favorite is a Braun Oral-B rechargeable electric tooth brush (any rechargeable model is good) Then start flossing! Healthy gums are definitely part of a beautiful smile. No matter how nice your teeth look, if your gums are red and unhealthy your smile will be unappealing. So it makes sense to take care of your teeth at home by brushing and flossing and be sure to have regular cleanings at the dentist (every 3-6 months).
The number five way is to have your teeth straightened with braces. Both conventional orthodontics and Invisalign clear braces (invisible trays) are great options these days. Conventional braces move your teeth using wires and brackets on teeth (to hold the wire). The wire exerts tension on different teeth to move them into more desirable positions. Invisalign is relatively new and uses a series of clear invisible plastic trays to gradually move the teeth into a better position. While undergoing treatment patients are encouraged to wear the trays up to 23 hours a day and only remove them while eating and brushing their teeth. Sometimes straightening just the front and side teeth will dramatically improves your smile. With the Invisalign technique, straightening can be accomplished in as few as 18 weeks.
The number six ways is to have porcelain laminates placed on your teeth. This is truly one-stop shopping; Teeth are whitened, straightened and made to look younger in about a week or two! This treatment option works by resurfacing your front teeth with a thin veneer of bonded porcelain. Porcelain laminates are best for improving smiles in which teeth are worn, poorly positioned or discolored. If done well they often last for 10 years or more and porcelain doesn’t show wear as much as bonded teeth do, so that they keep their glossy surface indefinitely. Also a major advantage porcelain laminates vs. bonding is that laminates are created away from the mouth. Following instructions of your dentist, their look is created by a highly artistic lab technician who often specializes solely in crafting beautiful porcelain laminates. Your dentist is not necessarily required to be the artist and create the exact changes needed on the spot, the way he would with bonding. However, porcelain laminates do require an exacting bonding technique (bonding as in gluing) and can, over time, pick up stains at the seam where the laminate meet the tooth.
And finally the number seven way is be happy! Think happy thoughts when you’re smiling! Good looking smiles can’t be fake or forced. If it is true that we smile when we are happy and that we are happy when we smile, then maybe, just maybe, fixing your smile will make you happier. I hope so and I hope this article has been informative.
Lawrence Spindel D.D.S. maintains a comprehensive dental practice in Midtown N.Y.C. with an emphasis on Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry.
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