The top 5 ways to simplify cosmetic dentistry

September 13, 2018

Cosmetic dentistry doesn't have to be a challenge; here's how to make the process easier.

When patients come to us to improve their smile, they’re looking for a change.

Patients seeking cosmetic dentistry are not only looking for dazzling end results, but they want conservative treatment involving little to no tooth preparation. And as professionals, we want to be able to provide beautiful results to our patients in a predictable yet conservative manner. Here are five things to consider before starting cosmetic treatment on your patients.

1. Determine the final goals before starting treatment

Starting treatment before you and your patient are clear on the goals and expected outcomes can not only lead to unnecessary treatment and poor outcomes, but it can leave you and your patient both unhappy in the end.

2. Obtain records either with impressions or with the use of a digital scanner

The use of digital photography is essential to help communicate clearly with your dental lab. Your dental lab can use these records to develop a digital or analog diagnostic wax/work up of the desired treatment outcome. This allows the practitioner and the patient to visualize the final end result. We can also determine which teeth will need to be prepared and we gain insight on how we’ll need to prepare the teeth to obtain the desired result. Using the diagnostic wax up/model to develop preparation guides allows the removal of only the tooth structure that’s needed - not too much or too little.

3. Whiten before treatment

Many patients desire whiter and brighter teeth. The bigger the shade difference, the more challenging it is do to this in a conservative, life-like manner. The more shade change, the more thickness is needed in the final restoration to achieve excellent final results. Whitening before treatment can close the gap between the beginning and end results, leading to less tooth structure removal required to achieve a beautiful, brighter smile. 

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4. Discuss the options

Some patients want to change the appearance of teeth that are rotated, tipped or poorly positioned. Patients desire to “instantly” straighten or correct these teeth, but this can lead to unnecessary tooth structure removal. By discussing the benefit of orthodontics to our patients, we can help the patient achieve a smile that’s very conservative and may not even require any tooth removal at all. And in cases where patients still require cosmetic dentistry to achieve the final desired result, we can position the teeth using shorter orthodontic treatment times in a place that allows for more conservative preparations in the final treatment.  

5. Consider adhesive dentistry and/or direct bonding

In many cases, direct bonding can allow for little to no tooth structure removal needed to achieve the desired result. Because dental resin can be placed in undercuts and areas that are challenging to cover up, there’s no need to develop a path of draw/insertion that’s required in many indirect restorations. When properly placed and polished, it’s possible to achieve beautiful restorations that can last our patients for years. With many of the newer resins on the market, adhesive dentistry and direct bonding is a great option. Take courses and take the time to become a master at tooth-colored resin restorations as it will pay it forward in many ways. 

Cosmetic dentistry is alive and well today in the dental marketplace and patients nowadays are more informed and educated than ever. And they’re looking for beautiful results with little to no drilling. In cosmetic dentistry today: Less is more!