If you are uncomfortable about smiling or try and avoid doing so, then rest assured, you are not alone. There are a great many people who are embarrassed by their smile which is mainly due to the state of their teeth. If you have missing, crooked or discoloured teeth then these are likely to be the cause of your
Having your photograph taken can be something of an ordeal for many people who prefer to remain tight lipped rather than expose their teeth.
If you are in this position and want to be able to smile again, and with confidence then there is an answer: a smile makeover.
What is a ‘smile makeover?’, ‘How much will it cost?’ and ‘How long will it take?’ These are just a few of the many questions asked about this procedure.
What is a ‘smile makeover?’
This is a cosmetic dentistry process which uses a range of techniques to improve a patient’s smile. It is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in cosmetic dentistry.
This process includes the following procedures:
Porcelain veneers or Invisalign braces
Dental implants, bridge or a denture
Laser gum contouring
Botox or a dermal filler
The replacement of metal fillings with natural, ‘white’ looking restorations.
A smile makeover is seen as a good way of treating teeth that are stained or uneven. Teeth can become stained or discoloured over the years, often as a result of drinking large amounts of tea and coffee.
If you smoke then this can cause the teeth to take on a ‘yellowed’ appearance.
Misaligned, chipped or missing teeth are another factor. Some people have missing teeth due to an accident or injury and are left with unsightly gaps. Others have teeth that have become worn down or overlap one another.
It may be the case that you show too much of your gums when you smile – called a ‘gummy’ smile or are conscious about your metal fillings.
And for some people, having a ‘celebrity smile’ is all important.
Whatever the reason, a smile makeover can result in an improved smile as well as boosting your confidence and self-esteem.
This is what we call an ‘elective’ process: by that we mean it is something you choose to have done for lifestyle or aesthetic reasons.
Am I suitable for a smile makeover?
This will be decided during the consultation between you and your cosmetic dentist. Your dentist will assess your oral health in order to obtain an overall impression as well as checking for any problems, such as a misaligned ‘bite’ (occlusion).
This is also where you can discuss your expectations of this process; such as what is about your smile that you want to change, and how would you like it look. It is important that both of you understand what is that you want from this process.
If your dentist does find any problems then these will have to be treated before the actual smile makeover procedure. Depending on the extent of these, this can range from a single tooth implant through to a major reconstruction.
These will be performed first before moving onto the cosmetic aspects such as teeth whitening or composite bonding.
If you have broken, crooked or chipped teeth; unsightly gaps, stained or discoloured teeth; a gummy smile or simply dislike your smile then a smile makeover could be for you.
What is the smile makeover process?
This is usually performed in two stages, although it depends on the amount of work to be done.
The first stage consists of the initial consultation. This includes a detailed discussion with the dentist about your needs and wishes, as well as an assessment of your oral health.
This is also the diagnostic stage: your dentist will use digital imaging or an ‘IntraOral’ camera to enable him/her to decide which teeth to treat and with what method.
The advantage of digital imaging is that it allows you to use computer technology to ‘design’ your ideal smile. This is where you get the chance to edit your smile into the one you particularly want.
Another part of the consultation involves the dentist taking an ‘impression’ or mould of your teeth. This impression takes the form of a wax model which is then sent to a dental laboratory for casting. The lab will make a cast, either from plaster or some other material which is, in effect, a 3D representation of your teeth.
This model can be used as a template for temporary crowns or veneers. This enables you to experience your smile makeover on a trial basis to see what you think. If there are any aspects that you are not happy with then these can be changed before the final fitting.
This is the actual treatment stage, which can involve a range of techniques, such as veneers, implants, Invisalign braces, bonding, new fillings, gum contouring and teeth whitening.
So, what does each treatment involve?
Dental implants: these are small, thin, metal rods which are designed to act as a replacement for a tooth root. If you have lost one or many teeth or have badly damaged teeth then implants are a good choice.
If you need several teeth replacing then your dentist will fit a bridge or a denture. Both of these look and behave in exactly the same way as your natural teeth.
To learn more visit our Dental Implants or Dentures section.
Invisalign braces: a brace is a corrective device, used to straighten crooked teeth. The difference between these and traditional metal braces is that Invisalign are transparent which means they are practically invisible. Often referred to as ‘invisible braces’.
This can be combined with porcelain veneers although it will take longer, mainly due to the fact that your teeth have to be prepared for veneers.
To learn more visit our Orthodontics section.
Porcelain veneers: often referred to as ‘laminates’, these are paper thin shells which fit over the front of your teeth to improve their appearance. Veneers can be made from porcelain (the most popular), ceramic or ‘composite bonding’.
These can be used to treat damaged, chipped, broken or crooked teeth.
To learn more visit our Dental Veneers section.
Orthodontics: braces such as Invisalign, Damon, Inman aligner, lingual and fixed are all good at moving teeth closer together to close any unsightly gaps.
Laser gum contouring: if you feel that you show too much gum when smiling then your dentist can use a laser to trim any excess gum (too much gum on show). This laser minimises any bleeding and is both safe and effective.
If you have a large amount of gum to be removed then your dentist may also trim the tooth root to prevent further growth and aid with healing.
Discoloured teeth: this is a problem for a vast number of people. We start off with ‘pearly whites’ but over time, food, drink, smoking and other external factors take their toll and result in stained teeth.
Porcelain veneers can help as can teeth whitening. There are home kits available for this purpose but it is far better to have a professional job done. There are different ways of doing this which depend on the severity of the staining.
To learn more visit our Teeth Whitening section.
Composite bonding: this is very similar to the veneers procedure. A dental composite is a flexible material, with a ‘paste like’ quality which can be applied to the tooth to be treated. This is then exposed to a special light source which causes it to set and so harden.
This can be applied in a single or several layers. Once this has done so it is polished until it reaches the desired shape and appearance.
There is the option of a ‘composite veneer’ although it is not as strong or stain resistant as a porcelain veneer.
Frown or smile lines: ‘laughter lines’ and furrows on the forehead are all signs of the ageing process. Other visible aspects include thinning lips and sunken cheeks.
One answer is to inject Botulinum toxin into these lines which has the effect of smoothing out these lines as well as reducing the amount of facial muscle movement. It’s this movement by your facial muscles which is responsible for your lines and wrinkles.
Another option is that of a dermal filler: this is a form of clear gel which when injected, has the effect of smoothing out lines and wrinkles. It can also be used to add volume to thin lips or sunken cheeks.
Depending on what your needs are, you can opt for a single technique or as many as you want. Your dentist will advise you as to what is required.
Basically, the more techniques you opt for the longer, and more costly it will become.
What are the benefits of a smile makeover?
There are health benefits as well as aesthetic ones. The health benefits include less risk of overloaded or worn down teeth, and teeth that are easier to clean and care for.
Teeth that have been straightened, repaired or replaced mean less risk of decay and infections.
On the aesthetic side of things, your teeth will look and feel so much better. You will have a clear, white smile which will improve your confidence and well being.
If you have undergone some form of facial rejuvenation such as Botox or a dermal filler then this can take years off your age. It can restore a youthful, rounded appearance and promote increased well being.
Patients often report a pride in their new smile as well as feeling more confident in social or work related situations.
What are the risks of a smile makeover?
As far as we know there are no known complications with a smile makeover although no dental procedure is risk free.
There are minimal risks associated with each individual technique which your dentist will discuss with you
How long does the recovery from a smile makeove take
This is much the same as for any dental treatment. If you have opted for porcelain veneers then you can expect your gums to feel sore and tender for a couple of days.
If you have had implants fitted or gum contouring then you may experience some mild pain or discomfort although painkillers such as Ibuprofen can ease this.
How long does a smile makeover last for?
If you look after your teeth and have regular check ups then this will extend the duration of your smile makeover.
You will require maintenance treatments such as repeat teeth whitening as your teeth will start to loose their brightness over time.
Porcelain veneers can break or fall off and will require replacing.
Composite bonding is prone to staining after a period of time and will need to be enhanced or replaced.
Dental implants tend to last for a long time, say 15 years or more. They have a high success rate but implant failure can happen and if it does then you will require a replacement implant.
If you have had gum contouring then this may need some further enhancement.
Crowns or a bridge will have to be replaced after 10 years or more.