A smile is a kind gesture to a stranger passing by, an expression of one’s delight, a professional disposition in a place of business, or just a free feeling, to laugh without hesitation. Our smile can mean so many things to us and those around us.

But, not everyone has the confidence to smile freely and openly. Sometimes, that lack of confidence comes from embarrassment of your teeth, or smile line. Discoloration, worn and crooked teeth, and especially missing teeth, can rob you of the simple act of smiling without hesitation.

As a cosmetic dentist for over 25 years, nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing a patient’s self-confidence change dramatically by improving their teeth.

There are many reasons for us to be self-conscious of our smile. But, the question is, “How can it be fixed?” You may have heard of porcelain veneers being able to produce that “Hollywood smile.” While veneers can certainly do that, they’re not always the best choice. If it is a simple case of crowding, darkened and misaligned teeth, the best choice would be to do orthodontic treatment, either with traditional brackets and arch wire or with invisible aligning retainers. The latter is a great choice as they can move teeth without anyone else even realizing you are wearing them.

We have been doing this type of orthodontics for our patients since the mid-1990s, and have seen great improvements in the ability to treat misaligned teeth. The nice thing about this is that there is no restoration place on the teeth, so there is no maintenance or lifespan that the restoration would have over the course of your life. You can even bleach and lighten your teeth using the aligner that moves your teeth. Note of caution after treatment is completed, however: you MUST wear a retainer overnight to ensure you maintain your desired results.

While orthodontic treatment can straighten your teeth, you may still end up with a smile that you want to enhance. There can be noticeable tooth structure worn unevenly, restorations here and there that cause shade discrepancies in the smile line, or possibly recession causing a black hole or triangle at the gum line between the teeth. If this is the case, then the best options to treat this problem would be all porcelain crowns (very aesthetic), all porcelain veneers (very aesthetic) and/or composite veneers (also very aesthetic). The porcelain requires more tooth structure to be removed, but provides an impervious substrate against staining over time! The advantage of choosing composite veneers is that in many situations there is no need to remove any tooth structure when placing the veneer. Composite veneers can provide very life-like restorations that have a lifespan of 10-15 years or more. To lengthen the lifespan of any restoration, wearing a night-guard while sleeping is recommended to avoid fracture or wear of the restorations.

Everyone’s smile is different. To improve one’s smile can require a combination of orthodontic and restorative treatment as well as gum (periodontal) treatment. In many dental offices, a “before” and “after’ “photoshop-like” portrait of your smile can be created to give you an idea of how your smile can be improved. Your dental professional, if trained in cosmetic dentistry, can you help you decide the best solution to improve your smile, giving you that confidence to bright up another’s day with a simple gesture. 🙂

More on Veneers soon to follow…..Aloha for now!