Your complete guide to cosmetic dentistry: from composite bonding to veneers

Cosmetic dentistry has boomed in recent years and whether you’re a bride-to-be who wants to hold on to your ideal smile and use the run-up to your wedding as the perfect excuse, or you’ve had it with a particular crooked tooth – there are never more options on the table, so where to start?

With so many cosmetic dental procedures available, how do you know which one is right for you? From composite bonding to veneers, we’ve broken down some of the most popular treatments to help you decipher which is the best option.

Thank you spoke to some of the UK’s leading dentists to explain each treatment in detail. Here’s everything you need to know…

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry refers to a method of professional dental care that focuses on improving the appearance of your teeth. It’s often optional – rather than essential – meaning you have to pay for all the treatments you book for.

What are some of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments on offer?

Composite binding explained

‘Composite bonding is a minimally invasive cosmetic treatment that improves the overall shape of your smile,’ explains Dr Stephen Dodd, practice owner of Ringway Dental near Manchester. “If you have teeth with uneven or chipped edges or teeth that you want to lengthen, composite bonding may be a good option for you. It is often used in conjunction with other treatments and is a particularly popular choice after orthodontic treatments such as Invisalign or teeth whitening.”

“Similar to composite bonding are composite veneers, which cover the entire tooth and achieve a greater difference in appearance.”

Dr. Dodd answers some of the biggest questions about composite bonding and composite veneers below:

What does it mean?

‘With both composite bonding and composite veneers, a resin material (composite) is placed on the tooth. This is then sculpted by hand to achieve the most natural result and is glued with a curing lamp.’

How long does the process take?

“As long as the teeth are straight, this treatment does not include preparation of your natural teeth. Meaning no damage. Composite bonding can be completed in one pass. We often call it a ‘same day smile makeover’. In just a few hours, your smile can be completely transformed.”

How much is it?

Costs vary depending on the dental office and practitioner you visit. Expect to pay between £200 and £600 per tooth.

How long does it take?

‘Composite treatment typically lasts 5-7 years with proper maintenance,’ explains Dr Stephen Dodd. “Depending on your diet, it may stain and flake over time, but it’s easy to fix.” A thorough hygiene visit is effective to remove stains and to re-glow your composite.’

Veneer explained

“Veneers are a layer of material placed over the surface of the tooth,” explains cosmetic dentist and advanced facial esthetician Dr. Tara Francis. “Think of an artificial nail on top of a natural nail.”

‘Feneers can be made from different materials, for example composite or porcelain.’ They are a great option for those looking for a total smile makeover. Veneers can be made to tailor your smile – whether that helps create a more aligned dental arch, create longer teeth, and/or slightly different contours.

When veneering, you have the option of choosing different shades of color and brightness, depending on the desired result.

**What does it mean?**

‘When it comes to veneering, it’s all in the planning,’ explains Dr Stephen Dodd. ‘At Ringway we spend a lot of time with the patient to determine the right shape, color and texture. It is important that the porcelain veneers look and feel as natural as possible.’

‘All our porcelain veneer makeovers involve a test smile. It’s the closest thing to trying before you buy! Patients can try a mock-up of what their porcelain veneers might look like. From here we look at the shapes and fit and advise on any changes before the porcelain veneers are finally made.’

What are some common misconceptions?

‘A common misconception when it comes to veneers is that you have to have your teeth ‘shaved’ before treatment. This is not the case,” explains Dr. Tara Francis. “Feneers may require a bit of shaping or tooth preparation before they fit your final smile, especially with porcelain, but there shouldn’t be any brutal filing of your natural teeth involved.”

“Another common misconception is that many veneers look fake or blindingly white. Again, this is not true. Veneers can be made to fit your individual smile and preference, looking incredibly natural in their color and shape. The color, appearance and shape of your veneer depends on your personal preference.’

How long does the process take?

‘Porcelain veneers are made in the laboratory by technicians – under the close supervision/instruction of our dentists,’ explains Dr Dodd. “From start to finish, patients can expect a porcelain veneer smile makeover to take 6-8 weeks. This includes appointments for planning, printing, test smile, final fit and assessment.’

How much is it?

The price of veneers depends on the choice of material, the dentist’s expertise and experience, with prices ranging from £200 to £1000 per tooth. ‘At Ringway Dental, porcelain veneers start from £850 per tooth. With proper maintenance and good hygiene, they will last more than 10 years,” explains Dr Stephen Dodd.

Teeth whitening explained

While there are many at-home teeth whitening treatments, professional teeth whitening is the way to go if you want long-lasting results. ‘Teeth whitening can be a great way to make a small change in the smile and make a big difference,’ says Dr Stephen Dodd. “After just a few weeks of whitening, a patient can expect a brighter, whiter smile.”

**What does it mean?**

‘Scans are made of the patient’s teeth to make whitening trays. We make digital scans – so no more sticky printing paste. Once the trays are made, tubes of whitening gel are provided and we advise the patient to put a very small drop on the bottom of the trays and wear them overnight for approximately 2 weeks.”

How much is it?

Costs may vary, but expect to pay around £250 for professional teeth whitening.

Invisible aligners and orthodonticss: explained

If you’re concerned about crooked or crowded teeth, braces may be the right choice. Today, there are plenty of discreet options including invisible aligners, including brands like Invisilign.

“Invisible aligners apply pressure to the teeth, gradually moving them into their correct position,” explains Dr. Khaled Kasem, Impress’ chief orthodontist.

“Most consultations begin with X-rays and an oral exam to get a detailed, in-depth picture of your oral cavity. Your medical team should then have all the information they need to diagnose your case. They then advise which treatment suits you best.’

“Once your aligners are ready, they are shipped directly to you or you pick them up in person. You must wear them at all times, except during meals. If you’ve worn your aligners correctly for the minimum recommended amount of time, chances are your teeth have shifted as expected and you can move on to the next phase of your aligners. On average, you replace your invisible aligners every 1 to 2 weeks.’

‘After completing the treatment, you enter the final phase: retainers. You should wear your braces at night to help maintain the results of your treatment. That way you never have to wear braces again.’

**How long does the process take?**

“The timing of invisible aligner treatments can vary from patient to patient,” explains Dr. Kasem. “Treatment can sometimes be completed in six months or less.”

How much is it?

‘Invisible aligner treatments start from around £2,000 depending on the length or complexity of your treatment.’

Your complete guide to cosmetic dentistry: from composite bonding to veneers

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