Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work with dental supplies that improves the appearance of a person's teeth, gums and/or smile. The term is often referred to as being redundant mainly with a marketing objective as dentistry by nature has the goal of improvement in the appearance and function of a patient's teeth. Many dentists refer to themselves as "cosmetic dentists" regardless of their specific education, specialty, training and experience in this field. This has been considered unethical with a predominant objective of marketing to patients. The American Dental Association does not recognize cosmetic dentistry as a formal specialty area of dentistry.
Cosmetic dentistry may involve: 1. the addition of a dental material to teeth or gums - examples: bonding, porcelain veneers (laminates), crowns (caps), gum grafts 2. the removal of tooth structure or gums - examples: enameloplasty etc., gingivectomy 3. neither adding nor removing dental materials, tooth structure or gums - examples: teeth whitening (bleaching). 4. straightening of teeth accompanied by improvement in appearance of face orthodontics.
In the past, dental fillings and other tooth restorations were made of gold, amalgam and other metals—some of which were veneered with porcelain. Now, dental work can be made entirely of porcelain or composite materials that more closely mimic the appearance of natural tooth structure. These tooth colored materials are bonded to the underlying tooth structure with resin adhesives. Unlike silver fillings (amalgams) they are entirely free of mercury. Many dentists offer procedures to be cosmetic and because their patients prefer natural looking teeth.
One in eight adolescents with prominent, or irregular shaped teeth have experienced bullying, with a negative impact on their self-esteem and quality of their oral health, according to a report published in the latest issue of the British Dental Journal.
The authors, hospital-based orthodontic specialists, found that the children, aged between 10 and 14 years, were at an increased risk of being teased or bullied by their peers if they had certain dental features: these included maxillary overcrowding; a cleft lip, with or without a cleft palate; an overjet and a deep overbite (ie prominent teeth).
The specialists also expressed concern that psychosocial factors are not considered when assessing a child's need for orthodontic treatment, although they acknowledged that the relationship between the shape of teeth, self-esteem and bullying is a complex one.
Because prominent or irregular shaped teeth can affect a child's self-esteem, or make them the subject of teasing or bullying at school, it's important that these factors are taken into account when referrals for orthodontic treatment are considered.