By Samer Alassaad, D.D.S.
The trends change. Pearly white Chiclet teeth were often praised in the past, while today, smiles that look as real as possible, yet are spectacular, are sought after, too.
We have all heard many times that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That should always remain true; beauty should not be measured through the eyes of the media. However, sometimes it may be worth looking outside of our own box and explore the alternate path.
Although dentists generally agree on what constitutes a nice smile in terms of the relationship between teeth, gums, lips and overall facial features, patients may not always share the same view. The consensus is that if teeth are straight, fairly light and in harmony with gums and lips, then most people are satisfied.
Cosmetic options can range from the most conservative approach of simply whitening teeth to the more complex approach of complete mouth rehabilitation. With abundant options always comes the potential for confusion. Finding the balance between what the patients’ desires are and what is involved to achieve them — such as knowing about the actual procedures, the regular maintenance required and the financial commitment —is key.
Teeth whitening, also called bleaching, is still the most conservative approach, utilizing a hydrogen peroxide-based solution that removes deep stains. This can be done at home over a period of a month by applying a solution for one hour nightly, or in a dental office in one visit in about one hour. Using dental shade guides to measure natural teeth on the brightness scale is an advantage, helping to assess teeth shade before and during whitening.
Braces, gum re-shaping, tooth-colored fillings and porcelain veneers and crowns are among the other available options for smile enhancements. Some of these options may be less conservative than whitening depending on each individual’s needs. A full understanding of the benefits and risks associated with each option will ensure maximum satisfaction.
For example, tooth-colored plastic fillings are more conservative than porcelain, but they discolor with time and may not be as long-lasting.
The necessity for any cosmetic treatment will always be subject to controversy. Some can easily make the argument that we take better care of what we like and therefore find a health justification for cosmetic needs.
Almost every general dentist provides some sort of cosmetic treatment. People should not hesitate to ask their dentist and learn about their options. They may be only a one-hour-whitening treatment away from their desires.
— Samer Alassaad has a private dental practice in Davis. Contact him at [email protected]