Angie's LIST Guide to
Cosmetic dentistry

Cosmetic, or aesthetic, dentistry focuses on improving the overall appearance of your teeth. Cosmetic treatments include any technique that involves whitening, restoring or straightening the teeth by a dentist or orthodontist.



Seeing a cosmetic dentist

A smile is often one of the first things we notice about a person, and cosmetic dentistry means that you no longer need to settle for stained or misshapen teeth. 

If uneven or discolored teeth are causing intense feelings of embarrassment when you smile, cosmetic dentistry may offer a real solution to improving your feelings of self-confidence. Even a minor treatment like a whitening treatment to remove stains can dramatically alter the appearance of your teeth.

Your regular dentist may be able to carry out minor cosmetic work, but for major work you may prefer to visit a specialist for a wider choice of treatments. There is no "one size fits all" approach to cosmetic dental procedures, and your dentist will consider several contributing factors, such as your current state of oral health, before deciding on the best approach. If you show signs of tooth decay or gum disease, they will need to be treated before you undergo any additional cosmetic work.

While some cosmetic treatments may occur over several sessions, other simpler procedures, such as changing old silver fillings to more natural-looking white fillings, may require only a single visit to your dentist. In addition to adults, teenagers may also decide to have cosmetic dental work to straighten their uneven teeth. Orthodontic treatments that require patients to wear braces may be recommended for both teens and adults.

Cosmetic dentistry treatments

Cosmetic dental procedures cover a wide number of treatments that cater to a variety of different issues. For those wanting dramatic improve misshapen, discolored or slightly crooked teeth,  dental veneers can transform your smile. In this procedure, small custom-made shells are designed to cover the front side of your teeth to create a more even look. Veneers have become a popular treatment among Hollywood celebrities who previously had imperfect teeth.

A cosmetic dentist can also restore a broken tooth with a crown. A lab fashions a crown to closely resemble the shape of your natural tooth. It's then glued over the top of the damaged tooth to disguise the imperfection.

Teeth whitening generally involves wearing a gum shield filled with a special gel while the dental professional shines a bright light on the teeth to speed up the lightening process. Teeth whitening treatments typically take one hour to perform.

Treatments can also involve removing silver fillings, which can look unsightly, and replacing them with white porcelain fillings. Although an old silver filling may still be performing its function effectively, patients with several fillings may feel more confident laughing and talking with white fillings that blend in with the color of their teeth. Although you may have a particular cosmetic dental treatment in mind, you can better determine which will work best for you after a thorough examination by your dentist or orthodontist, who will recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. New treatments, such as whitening, are continually being developed, allowing more choice for patients.

Deciding on cosmetic dental work

If you decide to go ahead with cosmetic dental work, contact your health care provider to find out what's covered in your plan. Depending on your policy, you may need a referral from your dentist in order for your policy to pay for treatment. Read through the listing of cosmetic dentists in the provider directory available from your health insurance company. Carefully research the dental specialists you are considering. Verify their qualifications, education and continuing education by consulting Angie's List, where you can also see member reviews and rankings. 

You should consider a few key points before committing to a procedure. Write down a list of questions or reservations before booking a consultation with a cosmetic dentist. It's important that you are open and honest about what you hope to achieve so that your chosen dentist understands your goals. Don't be afraid to ask a dentist about his or her previous work or experience. Your dentist may also be able to show you the proposed changes that can be made to your teeth via computer imaging.

Your dentist should explain the risks associated with any chosen procedure. For example, teeth whitening can lead to heightened sensitivity. Ask what alternatives are available for each recommended treatment. If you already have sensitive teeth, for instance, your dentist may recommend a gentler whitening treatment.

Factor in your budget when considering treatment. A slightly cheaper option you hadn't initially considered may give similar results and be more affordable. A good dentist should be able to fully answer all of your questions and put your mind at ease.

For the procedure, check the price in your area with Healthcare Blue Book, a free online guide that lists fair prices for healthcare services. The fair price is what a health service provider typically allows from insurance companies as full payment, which is substantially less than the billed amount. Ask your dentist for a breakdown of the cost and a written quote. Having the cost in writing is essential when it comes to comparing like for like treatments from other cosmetic dentistry providers.


I don't know how to approach my dentist, who did a large cosmetic work. A couple of months later I started to locate some disconfort on 3 upper mollars. I visited him and told him the problem and now he is charged me 389.00 to do on a molar he already done. On the other tooth he is sending me to an specialist for a root canal work. How I should make him understand that he had damaged my teeth and that I am started to be in pain on several molars?

As a Dental Consultant hired by Dentists, one of the major issues I have found is lack of full disclosure and communication to patients about all possible risks associated with dentistry in particular as in your case cosmetic work. Not knowing the condition of your teeth prior to the work being done, I will give you a few scenarios that may bring some clarity. If in fact you had existing fillings on your molar teeth now being replace by porcelain crowns, there is always a risk of root canal therapy.. Why? Because in most cases a large filling can cover more than 60% of the tooth surface and depending on how long ago the your teeth were filled can have decay hidden, weakening the tooth structure which in time can fracture. When that filling is being replaced, the tooth will be cleaned out for any hidden decay and prepared by trimming tooth structure to fit a crown. When this happens there is always a risk of exposing the dentin which is a protective layer covering your nerves. Some dentist perform root canal therapy as a cautionary procedure in conjunction with the preparation of placing a crown.
In cases where a molar tooth has never had a restoration in it and cosmetic dentistry is needed for building up your bite for TMJ issues the preparation is not as deep but still can have the risk of sensitivity requiring root canal therapy.
Have your dentist check your bite.. Sometimes a small adjustment can make a world of difference in your discomfort and dissatisfaction.
If you have built a relationship of trust with your dentist and team be assured that he/she have your bests interest at heart ahead of their pocket book.

Communication is key and I hope I have answered you concerns.

I have had way to many bad experiances at the dentist,to the point I became terrified to go at all. I finally found my angle dentist in Rockland N.Y. . He did so much work on me that I never thought I could get through. He is the most wonderful dentist in the world. His entire office staff was amazing. I will never go to another dentist as long as I live. I love my dentist. I never in my life did I think those words would come out of my mouth.

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