People become more self conscious of their teeth when they have chipped, discoloured, deformed, crooked or missing teeth. They may find the need to cover their mouth every time they laugh and tend not to smile with their teeth in photos. Apart from affecting a person's self confidence, it can also affect a person's oral health particularly if chipped or missing teeth are left untreated.Depending on the complexity and severity of the problem, referral to dental specialists may be necessary. See your dentist or oral health professional for further details.
Cosmetic Dental Procedures
Cosmetic dentistry describes a range of dental procedures that can restore or replace chipped, discoloured, deformed, gapped, crooked or missing teeth.
Cosmetic dental procedures include:
- replacement of silver fillings with tooth-coloured fillings
- dental implants.
Silver fillings can be replaced with tooth-coloured ones particularly if the fillings are visible when you smile. The decision to replace silver fillings for improved appearance should be balanced against the risk of nerve injury and structural damage to teeth which can occur when placing tooth-coloured fillings.
Darker teeth can be lightened (whitened) with special bleach which can be applied in the dental chair or at home.
Customised plastic trays are made to fit specifically to the shape of your teeth and act as a reservoir for the bleach. After two weeks of night application at home, you should notice a significant difference in the brightness of your teeth. This treatment may not work for some types of discolouration. Bleaching should only be done under the guidance of a dentist with whom you can discuss risks such as tooth sensitivity.
Teeth that are discoloured following root canal treatment can sometimes have their original colour returned by bleaching inside the tooth. This can only be carried out by a dentist.
Discoloured enamel can be gently ground away using an acidic abrasive paste. In severe cases, the enamel may be removed entirely and the tooth covered with appropriately coloured filling material. Such treatment can impact on the strength of the teeth, so it should only be conducted by a dentist or oral health professional.
Bonding is most useful in repairing chipped teeth with tooth-coloured fillings.
Dentures (false teeth) can replace wide spaces with multiple missing teeth. Dentures can be supported by teeth, gum and more recently implants for stability.
Approximately 0.5 millimetres thick, veneers are bonded to the front of the teeth to mask any discolouration. The equivalent depth of enamel will need to be removed from the front of the teeth to ensure even thickness. Although porcelain lasts longer than resin veneers, they can be easily damaged by habits such as fingernail chewing.
Crowns are caps permanently bonded over a damaged tooth. Porcelain options are available to match the colour of adjacent teeth.
Bridges are series of caps supported by tooth on either side to replace missing teeth. This is most effective when the gap is small and the teeth on either side of the gap require crowns.
Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants. A titanium screw is fixed into the jaw which becomes fused with bone over time. Depending on the number of missing teeth and space available, the crown of tooth/teeth is then fitted. The success rates of implants are always improving with close to 100 percent for replacing front teeth in the lower jaw.
Orthodontic treatment can straighten overcrowded or overlapping teeth. Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry that correct teeth and jaw problems with braces and plates to properly align the teeth.
Where to get help
- Your dentist or oral health professional
- Your public oral health service
- Community dental clinics Tel. 1300 360 054 to find your local clinic
- The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne:
- - General enquiries or to make an appointment Tel. (03) 9341 1000 or 1800 833 039 (outside Melbourne metro) Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm
- - Dental emergencies Tel. 1300 360 054 Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 9.15 pm, weekends and public holidays 9 am to 9.15 pm
- Australian Dental Association Tel. (03) 8825 4600
Things to remember
- Cosmetic dentistry can make substantial improvements to your teeth and your smile once you have achieved good oral health.
- There are ways to restore or replace chipped, discoloured, deformed, crooked or missing teeth.
- You may need to be referred to a specialist for complex cases.
- Speak to your dentist or qualified oral health professional for information and advice.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.