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The Complete Guide To Cosmetic Dentistry

Behind the gleaming smiles of our favorite celebrities lies a secret. 

Rather than splashing out on face lifts, boob jobs or stomach tucks, stars including actress Martine McCutcheon, newsreader Kirsty Young and designer Amanda Wakeley, have opted for something far more simple – the perfect smile.

Cosmetic dentistry is all the rage in America where it’s a sin to have bad teeth.

The choice of treatments is huge. There are veneers, bridges, crowns and white fillings to choose from. There are even computerized smile analyses which look at the relationship between lips, gums and teeth.

Here, we round up six types of cosmetic dentistry and explain what each treatment does, how long it takes and how much it costs.What’s it for?: Yellow teeth. Losing the colour of your teeth is part of the ageing process. Teeth start to change colour from teenage years.

Genetics also play a part in white teeth. If your parents have yellow teeth, you are more likely to follow suit. Whitening is for people who suffer from teeth stained by food, drink – mainly red wine, coffee and tea – and tobacco – without harming their teeth.

There are two main types of teeth whitening techniques to choose from:

Pure laser technique: A quick fix way to whiten teeth.

How it works: Laser beams – or the more updated light emitting wavelengths – provide an intense light which activate a whitening agent made from carbamide peroxide or hydrogen paroxide pasted onto the enamel of the tooth. This chemical reaction lifts the stain out of the enamel, and is then washed away by the dentist.

How long does it take?: About one hours.

How long does it last?: Needs topping up once every six months.

Cost: about US $175 per session

At-Home Whitening Kit

How it works: The patient is fitted with a tailor-made mouth guard. Instead of a laser, the patient wears the mouth guard filled with whitening gel which is worn each night for around three weeks. This does not harm the teeth but slightly changes the composition of the dentine – the part of a tooth that is hard, contains calcium and lies underneath the enamel – making it appear whiter.

How long does it take?: Two to three weeks.

How long does it last?: Between three and six months.

Cost: About US $100.What are they for?: This is a versatile technique used to correct crowding in the mouth, cover badly broken teeth, badly stained teeth, reshape teeth or to close up gaps.

How do they work: Veneers are used to increase the dimension of the tooth, thicken them, make them squarer or longer. Thin slices of porcelain called veneers are shaped and colored to correspond to the existing teeth. The veneer is bonded onto the front surface of the tooth using a chemical bonding agent. A minimal amount of drilling is used to curve the contours of the veneers.

How long does it take?: Two separate appointments.

How long does it last?: At least 15 to 20 years if well looked after.

Cost: about US $325How it works: A metal or tooth-colored brace is fitted inside the whole of the mouth. Over time, the wires between each tooth push or pull the teeth to straighten them out.

How long does it take?: From one to three years, with follow up appointments every four to eight weeks.

How long does it last?: It varies from case to case, but the patient is advised to wear a retainer – otherwise the teeth can start to drift back to their original position.

Cost: From around US $2,000 – US $6,000.What are they for?: Used to restore chipped or replace broken teeth.

How they work: An impresion of the tooth is taken and the crown – made from metal or porcelain – is built in a laboratory to individual prescription, using a gold alloy covered with bonded porcelain. The old tooth is then cut down a millimetre or so to make room for the crown. The crown is then cemented on to the tooth.

How long does it take?: Two two-hour-appointments.

How long does it last?: Permanent.

Cost: A crown costs from US $150 – US $300 each.What are they for?: To bridge a gap where a tooth is missing, or to close a gap.

How they work: A metal unit of three crowns is fashioned from porcelain. The bridge is then cemented to the teeth either side of the gap. These teeth are drilled down to attach the bridge either side of the gap. The middle crown is solid to mimic a tooth, the other two are hollow in order to fit over the teeth. A colour is chosen to blend in with existing teeth and the shade of the bridge.

How long does it take?: Two one hour appointments.

How long does it last?: From three years to fifteen years, if cleaned properly.What are they for?: For people with smaller gaps, chipped teeth or filling the edge of a tooth.

How they work: Made of a composite of resin and glass particles, they are cemented onto the existing tooth using a bonding agent.

How long does it take?: One appointment.

How long does it last?: They are rather less hard-wearing than veneers but should last for around 15 years if cleaned properly.

Cost: From US $15 – US $25 per tooth.