Cosmetic Dentistry

For years, there is one thing that our American cousins have lorded over their former imperialist masters above all else.  It’s not their superior sporting prowess or military might, nor their glorious summers and genuinely snowy winters; it’s not even their vastly higher quality Disneyland.

It is, of course, their teeth.  Whenever a stereotypical ‘Brit’ appears in any form of US media you can rest assured that comically bad teeth will be one of their defining characteristics.

The situation has gotten so out of hand that in a recent interview for a film he was promoting, Ricky Gervais was commended for his commitment to the role by keeping his ‘false’ bad teeth equipped at all times; they were of course his own.

True to form, Gervais simply laughed it off, especially since it is generally beneficial for a comedian to maintain a unique look.  However, the majority of us are not interested in a ‘unique look’ and would likely prefer to have a smile we can take confidence in.  Cosmetic dentistry provides an effective way of achieving this goal.

Unfortunately, in contrast to the USA, cosmetic dental procedures are traditionally considered by many in the UK to be inconvenient and prohibitively expensive.  However, this attitude is beginning to shift.  Thanks to improvements in the technology and procedures used by dentists, cosmetic dentistry is becoming ever more affordable and viable.

For example, in the past, adults with crooked teeth have been deterred by the prospect of unsightly and potentially embarrassing metal braces.  Nowadays, there are ‘invisible braces’, which, while not literally invisible, are certainly a lot harder to spot than their bulky predecessor.

The stereotypical view that cosmetic dental surgery simply involves the attainment of the infamous ‘Hollywood smile’ is rapidly changing as growing numbers of people take advantage of the large number of more subtle procedures available.

While the ‘Hollywood smile’ is still an option for those who desire it, advances in cosmetic dentistry mean that an individual can customise their teeth in almost any way imaginable, from correcting crooked teeth with Invisalign to brightening a smile.

Unfortunately, the majority are unaware of these advances, but never fear!  In this article I will aim to provide you with a brief overview of some of the more common cosmetic dental operations available in the UK today.

One of the simplest, and by extension one of the most popular procedures available is ‘teeth whitening’, a term that tends to be splashed across the majority of toothpaste packages at the moment.

While whitening toothpaste may have a limited impact on the pallor of your not-so-pearly whites, there are also other more effective procedures now widely available throughout the UK.

The key difference between whitening toothpastes and these professional whitening procedures is that the former work to remove staining on tooth enamel, whereas the latter actually involves bleaching the teeth to achieve a whiter, cleaner look.

Both can be effective, depending on your needs.  Before considering professional teeth whitening it is generally recommended to try a combination of whitening toothpaste and a scale & polish at your dentist.

These will complement each other to remove staining from your teeth caused by coffee, smoking, red wine and other forms of discolouration.  Following this, if you still feel that your teeth would benefit from being brighter, there are two more effective options available.

The most common form is known as professional bleaching and involves fitting a shield in the mouth to protect the gums before applying a bleaching agent to the teeth in order to lighten the colour.  Depending on the suitability of the teeth and the agents used this process can take from one to four weeks.

While teeth bleaching kits are available over the counter at most pharmacies, the service can also be provided by a cosmetic dentist.  This option tends to take effect faster and last longer as the dentist’s experience allows the use of stronger bleaching agents that could prove dangerous if sold over the counter.

When undergoing teeth whitening however you should expect to have some level of sensitivity of tooth ache following the procedure. This is completely normal and it only minimal. But if you want to have white, stainless teeth then I guess this is a small price to pay.

The other professional option goes by the exciting title of ‘power whitening’ and is only available from your dentist.  The first two steps involved are similar to bleaching, with a gum protector being fitted and a bleaching agent painted onto the teeth.

The treatments diverge at the third step where a laser is shone onto the teeth in order to make the agent react much more quickly.  The result is a procedure which achieves comparable results to bleaching but can be completed within an hour, making it ideal for those who don’t have the time to go through the comparatively lengthy bleaching process.