Getting the Perfect Smile
“A smile costs nothing, but gives much.” It’s the opening line of an anonymously written poem, and a universal truth. A smile goes a long way towards putting people at ease, lifting spirits and giving reassurance. A smile opens doors, and what’s more, from numerous research results, we now know that the very action of smiling releases those ‘feel good’ hormones. But what of the smile itself? Are you confident for your teeth to be on show, or do you try to hide them away?
Looking After Your Teeth
Ben Atkins, Clinical Director of Revive Dental Care and Trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation says: “There is no upper age limit for corrective and cosmetic dentistry, but when starting out on all dental journeys, it is important to get the basics right. Invest in a mains rechargeable electric toothbrush and clean your teeth with fluoride toothpaste last thing at night and at least one other time during the day. After cleaning your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, don’t rinse, just spit. You need that fluoride to remain on your teeth for as long as possible. If you really have to rinse, use a fluoride mouthwash rather than water.
“Cut down how often you have sugary food and drinks and visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend. Understanding your teeth can enable you to get what you want; if you are not sure where you want to be, speak to your dentist and take time before making decisions. Always start with the simple things like perfecting your oral hygiene. Where stain removal is necessary a simple clean maybe all you need. If you long to restore your smile to its former glory, then make a list of the things you don’t like and work through it with your dentist.”
Getting a Whiter Smile
Discolouration is a major stumbling block to the perfect smile, but there are various methods of professional ‘whitening’. The desired effect is achieved by lightening your own natural tooth colour. Says Ben Atkins: “The rule of thumb guide is to aim for teeth to be the same shade as the white of your eyes.”
The most common type of whitening process is known as ‘dentist-supervised home whitening’. This involves customised trays being made to fit into your mouth like gum-shields. Whitening gel is then put into the trays and your dentist gives instructions on how to manage the process at home.
Another option is ‘chair-side whitening’. This is totally supervised by your dentist and involves gums being protected by a rubber shield. The whitening product will then be applied to your teeth.
Laser whitening is yet another technique, but this term is misleading because no laser is involved. A gel is painted onto your teeth and a light shone onto the gel to speed up the whitening process.
The cost of tooth whitening will vary, depending upon your region and dental practice. As a rough guide, if you are considering a home-use whitening procedure, you could expect to pay in the region of £145 for a single arch or £287 for full mouth treatment. If opting for chair-side procedures, the British Dental Health Foundation recommend that you get a written estimate of the cost before starting any treatment.
Other Cosmetic Procedures
Where broken, missing, crooked and uneven teeth are spoiling your smile, there are many options. Treatments are available to straighten crooked teeth – orthodontic braces may be viable. You can have dentures or bridges to replace one or more teeth, or you could consider implants.
Before considering implants, you may wish to ask your dentist about ‘sticky bridges’. This technique uses an extremely strong adhesive which attaches to the tooth next to the gap to be filled. This is a non-invasive procedure, and avoids the risk that at some stage in the future an implant may fail, leading to serious infection.
If, after looking at all options, implants are your choice, a thorough diagnosis and assessment is the first step. Implants and other orthodontic treatments are not generally available on the NHS unless they are required for medical reasons.
If you are concerned about other dental issues, please follow the link to our earlier article.
For further information and free advice from professional dentists, call the British Dental Health foundation Helpline on 01788 539780, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.