7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Megan Freedman on September 14, 2022
  • Confident Man Smiling and Looking Away
    Keep Smiling!
    If you don’t like the way your teeth or gums look, you may not feel comfortable grinning, laughing, talking, or expressing yourself. The good news is that dentists and periodontists offer a range of dental procedures to improve the appearance of your smile. Several of them are relatively quick and pain-free. An added benefit is that folks with attractive teeth tend to practice better dental hygiene to preserve that new smile. Learn about some of the most common cosmetic dental procedures.
  • Slide 1: DCP:7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures
    1. Teeth Whitening
    Teeth whitening brightens discolored teeth. Teeth whitening involves applying a bleaching solution or gel to remove stains and change the color of the tooth’s surface (enamel). A dentist can perform your teeth whitening in a dental office, or give you teeth whitening materials to use at home. Teeth whitening results vary from person to person, but whitened teeth do return to their former color over time.
  • Slide 2: DCP:7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures
    2. Dental Bonding
    Dental bonds are like shallow dental fillings of composite resin material that a dentist applies to the surfaces of specific teeth. Dental bonding can be used for many purposes in dental care. For cosmetic reasons, dental bonding helps improve the look of chipped, cracked, discolored and misshapen teeth. Bonds are usually applied in one visit. Bonded teeth typically also need replacement or repair every 3 to 10 years.
  • Slide 3: DCP:7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures
    3. Braces and Aligners
    Braces aren’t just for kids. The goal of braces and any orthodontic treatment is to straighten the teeth and improve the bite, something that benefits both kids and adults. Aligners are clear plastic or acrylic removable trays molded to the shape of your teeth. Both of these devices straighten crooked teeth over the course of months or years. In addition to correcting a bad bite, braces and aligners correct problems caused by overcrowded teeth and too much space between teeth, both of which can lead to serious gum problems.
  • Slide 4: DCP:7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures
    4. Dental Veneers
    Dental veneers are thin, tooth-colored coverings that improve the appearance of chipped, cracked, discolored, gapped or misshapen teeth. Dentists usually put veneers on the front side of the most visible teeth. Dental veneers are made of composite or porcelain (ceramic) materials. Your dentist bonds dental veneers to your teeth with cement. Three visits are typically required to complete the procedure. Veneers cost more than bonding, but they typically last 5 to 15 years. Good candidates for dental veneers are people with good oral hygiene and who do not grind their teeth.
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    5. Dental Crown Lengthening
    Dental crown lengthening (also called gum reshaping or contouring) involves removing gum tissue to make teeth look longer and improve the appearance of a “gummy smile.” The dentist or periodontist uses a laser or scalpel to cut away the excess gum tissue, and the results are permanent. Dental crown lengthening may also be used to expose more of your tooth so that your dentist can fix it or fill it.
  • Slide 6: DCP:7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures
    6. Gum Graft Surgery
    Gum graft surgery involves taking soft tissue from the roof of your mouth (the palate) or elsewhere on the gums and transferring it to another area of your gums just above a tooth. Periodontists perform this procedure for aesthetic reasons when your gums have receded away from a tooth and made it appear too long. Gum grafting can also be used to protect teeth from getting cavities, or to help with tooth sensitivity due to gum recession.
  • Slide 7: DCP:7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures
    7. Enamel Shaping
    Enamel shaping is a quick and painless procedure used to smooth out small chips or rough edges in teeth. Enamel shaping is also used to subtly change the shape of a tooth, such as rounding off a corner or point. Dentists perform enamel shaping with a polishing drill, and the effects are permanent.
  • Slide Key Takeaways: DCP:7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures
    Key Takeaways
    Tooth chips, brown spots, crooked teeth, and extra-low gum lines shouldn’t keep you from cracking a smile. There are several different types of cosmetic dental procedures that fix tooth and gum imperfections. They involve different amounts of time and financial commitment, and have effects that last from a few months to many years—some are even permanent. If you’re thinking of making cosmetic dental changes, talk with your dentist at your next checkup for personalized recommendations.
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7 Cosmetic Dental Procedures

About The Author

  1. Dental Crown Lengthening Procedure. American Academy of Periodontology. https://www.perio.org/consumer/dental-crown-lenghthening.htm
  2. Periodontal Plastic Surgery Procedures. American Academy of Periodontology. https://www.perio.org/consumer/plastic-surgery-procedures
  3. Gum Graft Surgery. American Academy of Periodontology. https://www.perio.org/consumer/grafts.htm
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Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 14
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