Wednesday, March 25 2020 8:00

Want a smile makeover for your big day?

Written by Dr. Joseph Abrams

Working with a cosmetic dentist can make that happen.


A beautiful smile speaks volumes even before you say a single word. In fact, studies have shown people with beautiful smiles are seen as warmer, happier, more confident, more successful and even more intelligent.

If you’re considering cosmetic dental care, do a few things before consulting with a dentist to ensure you’re on the road to achieving the smile of your dreams. The best results come from collaboration between doctor and patient sharing a well-thought-out common vision.

Your dentist has knowledge, experience and skill, but as a patient, your understanding of your needs, desires and circumstances provides an invaluable part of achieving your optimal result. No matter how committed a dentist is to a vision of your smile, these are your teeth and it’s your life.


So where to begin?

First, take a self-inventory. Include what you’d like to change about your smile and why. Look on the web at aspirational smiles and at previous pictures of yourself to help your dentist understand your goals. And evaluate your life circumstances to decide if investing in your smile and how much is appropriate now.

Second, educate yourself about the types of procedures available—pros, cons and costs. Then you’re not overloaded with information during your dental consultation or suffer sticker shock at your visit.

With recent advances in the field, cosmetic dentistry can address many aesthetic objectives. It’s helpful to have some understanding of the types of changes possible and the procedures performed. Remember, cosmetic dentistry truly combines art and science and often offers more than one way to achieve a goal.

An ideal smile depends on many variables—including your teeth’s color, shape and position, your gum and gum line’s appearance, and the balance of your smile with your facial features. All these can be enhanced through cosmetic dental procedures.

Whitening performed by a dentist can dramatically change your teeth’s color far more effectively than over-the-counter products. Options involve doing in-office whitening (typically one visit), using custom fitted trays for whitening material applied daily to teeth (2 to 3 weeks) or a combination. These procedures are generally inexpensive (less than $600) and some practices offer promotions.

Orthodontics may be the best treatment if the appearance of your teeth is satisfactory but they are poorly aligned. Although this takes longer than purely cosmetic procedures, it’s recommended because it doesn’t involve altering the tooth structure.

In more complex situations—changing the shape or appearance of previously damaged or restored teeth, and teeth slightly out of position—dental bonding, porcelain veneers and cosmetic crowns can help. These treatments are faster than braces, usually completed within a few weeks.

Dental bonding involves applying a putty-like material to the teeth that’s cured using a bright light. Bonding takes one visit and is less expensive than porcelain veneers or crowns. A disadvantage is the material is less strong or stain resistant than porcelain, and it often has to be replaced or repaired within 5 to 7 years. But it’s usually less than half the cost of crowns or veneers and some insurance covers it.

Porcelain veneers and cosmetic crowns generally involve removing a layer of tooth structure. The porcelain is fabricated by a laboratory that creates the structure that’s cemented to your teeth. Cosmetic crowns are stronger and often better for individuals who have a strong bite or grind their teeth.

Veneers and crowns are the most aesthetic, strongest and longest-lasting restorations. Most Hollywood celebrities with smile makeovers had this type of treatment. The cost ranges between $1,000 and $2,000 per tooth in our area.

Altering the appearance of your gums can also enhance your smile. Cosmetic gum surgery can raise or lower the gum line and balance the relationship of gums to teeth. In complex smile makeovers, it’s often performed along with porcelain veneers.

A final part of your preparation is to research potential dentists. Ideally, you’ll choose one who emphasizes cosmetic care, is well-respected and has extensive experience. Check websites to see treatments actually performed and read patient reviews. Once you’ve identified prospects, get a consultation to evaluate your rapport with the dentist.

Here’s hoping you’re one or two steps closer to the smile of your dreams!

Dr. Joseph Abrams graduated from Temple University School of Dental Medicine, then completed his post-graduate residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center. He has extensive postgraduate training and experience in delivering cosmetic dental care and has been serving families in the tri-state area for nearly 30 years. He practices at the Abrams Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in Frazer.