Unfamiliarity with the range and apparent complexity of treatment options available may seem overwhelming, and the prospect of combined or accelerated treatments can make choices even more difficult. Becoming better informed about your options will help remove apprehension, and allow you to make educated decisions.
In this article we take a broad look at how dentists, orthodontists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons might help enhance your smile.
Cosmetic or aesthetic dentistry is a broad professional category offering a variety of dental treatments to improve the appearance of the teeth. Cosmetic dentistry can refine your smile by renovating stained, dark, chipped and crooked teeth. Cosmetic dentists can also help repair damaged teeth and replace missing teeth.
Tooth whitening (bleaching), veneers, bonding, crowns (caps) and bridges, dental implants, dental fillings, and root canal treatment to restore teeth, are treatments available to the cosmetic dentist.
For some patients there are limitations to what cosmetic dentistry alone can achieve. This is where specialised professionals like orthodontists and maxillofacial surgeons come in.
Orthodontics is the dental specialty that helps diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities called malocclusions. You may need an orthodontist if you have overcrowded or missing teeth. Orthodontists also treat rotated teeth, overlapping teeth, gaps between teeth, and other irregularities of the teeth, jaw or face. Conditions like an under-bite, overbite, deep bite, cross bite and open bite can also be properly assessed and corrected with orthodontic treatments. Dentofacial orthopaedics is a further category of orthodontics, primarily concerned with the guidance and management of the facial growth and development occurring predominantly during childhood.
The Australian Association of Orthodontists recommends that you see an orthodontist if any of the following applies:
If you recognise any of the above in your child or yourself, it would be wise to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist.
Orthodontic treatment options
Treatment options in orthodontics include braces, lingual braces, functional appliances, headgear, elastics, removable appliances, maxillary expansion appliances, retainers, sequential plastic aligners (such as Invisalign) and other appliances including temporary anchorage devices.
You can learn about clear aligners like Invisalign in the Costhetics article on the topic.
Following a thorough clinical inspection, usually supported with tests and x-rays, an orthodontist will be in a position to diagnose and advise upon treatment options. Once your needs are clear, you can work with the orthodontist to decide which options appeal to you.
Healthy looking gums are an important component of a beautiful smile. If the gums appear overly dark or discoloured, bleaching can help achieve even colouring across your gum line.
Cosmetic gum surgery can assist in reducing the excessive view of gums when you smile, and lengthen your dental crowns, for a more balanced smile. Ridge augmentation restores the natural contours of the gums and jaw, which can become distorted by tooth loss. Gum grafting is a solution for gum recession and the resulting over-exposure of teeth roots.
You can read more about gum bleaching in Green (Cosmetic) Dentistry Helps Preserve Natural Teeth.
Corrective jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery may be useful for treating a protrusive or recessive jaw, often a cause of sleep apnoea, malocclusion (bite problems).
Upper jaw surgery or maxillary advancement may help correct breathing issues, facial asymmetry or an under-bite. Lower jaw surgery or mandibular surgery is useful in some cases of sleep apnoea, facial asymmetry or an overbite.
While issues of asymmetry, bite problems and incorrect jaw alignment generally have inherent mechanical problems; corrective jaw surgery will indirectly contribute to an enhanced smile.
If problems with the jaws or the bite are detected in childhood and early adolescence, orthodontic treatments can be used to redirect growth into a normal pattern while the jaws are still growing and developing. If this is not done, corrections for adults may require jaw surgery.
Once jaw surgery is completed, you may benefit from the services of an orthodontist or a cosmetic dentist to resolve residual issues that will enhance your smile.
Combination treatments refer to the use of more than one treatment to achieve a desired final outcome.
Sydney Orthodontist Dr Andrew Pitsis is an advocate of combination treatments, “Orthodontics is not just about straightening your teeth. It is also used to correct your bite (the way your teeth meet) as well as providing an aesthetic improvement to your lip position and profile. Sometimes, orthodontics can be combined with upper and lower jaw surgery to achieve a more pleasing facial appearance and improved function of the teeth.”
Whatever the treatments, the outcome should create a pleasing facial profile and a pleasant smile, together with a healthy bite, placing little stress on jaw joints, and with stable and lasting results.
In some cases, your dentist, an orthodontist, and a cosmetic dentist may need to be engaged in order to achieve the best results. They will communicate together to present an optimal treatment program and outcome. If you need jaw surgery, a maxillofacial surgeon will need to be consulted, and if you need to have dental implants or dentures, a restorative dentist or prosthodontist may need to join your treatment team.
Read more about cosmetic dentistry options in our article, Green (Cosmetic) Dentistry Helps Preserve Natural Teeth.
When we change one aspect of our face or body, we create an impact on the total look. Read our article, What is Beauty to learn about the math’s and science behind all beautiful things.