What is Cosmetic Dentistry? – Harley Street Smile Clinic

You may have heard the term “cosmetic dentistry” used before, but do you have a clear idea of what it refers to? Is any and every qualified tooth specialist a cosmetic dentist? Read on to find out a little more about the world of cosmetic dentistry.

1. Is Cosmetic Dentistry the Same as Dentistry? With so many different areas of medical specialism, it’s often hard to work out what each involves. Cosmetic dentistry can be set apart from dentistry due to its focus on the aesthetics of the teeth rather than their function. There is a reasonable amount of crossover, however, as many popular cosmetic dentistry procedures can have beneficial physical results, while many changes prescribed purely for the purposes of the purely medical side of dentistry may have aesthetic benefits.

2. So Can any Dentist Perform Cosmetic Procedures?
This is another area that has some crossover. Virtually all dentists are able to perform some procedures that could be considered part of the “cosmetic” remit, be that fitting braces or reshaping teeth that have been broken, but not every practice offers specialist cosmetic options such as whitening or veneers. Specialising in cosmetic dentistry involves undertaking training in areas that do not necessarily apply to the regular dental practice.

What Kinds of Procedures Fall Into the Category of “Cosmetic Dentistry”?
Cosmetic procedures can include:

Tooth and gum contouring

If a person feels as though their teeth require reshaping, cosmetic dentists are able to do this. An extremely precise laser is commonly used for this purpose. The gum line can also be altered in this way, to allow a smaller amount of tissue to be visible. As mentioned, dentists outside of the “cosmetic” umbrella are also able to reshape the teeth, but this is usually done because there is a structural issue rather than a visual one.

Teeth Whitening

One service that is usually offered by cosmetic dentists for purely aesthetic purposes is tooth whitening. Various means can be utilised in order to improve the colour of the smile and make it appear healthier and brighter. Professional home-whitening kits may be used, however, a specialist may also offer chemical or laser whitening over a number of sessions at the practice. This option is also regularly recommended after gum contouring, as the area of tooth that previously lay below the gum often appears discoloured.


Veneers are often made of porcelain or composite resin, and come in the form of a thin shell of material applied to the outer surface of each tooth. A mould is taken of the recipient’s teeth, then used to create the shape of the required veneers, which are then applied to the teeth using dental cement. Each veneer can be precisely crafted to appear to be an improved version of the tooth it is attached to – for example, veneers can be used to “resize” the teeth so that any gaps can be closed, help to improve the symmetry of the smile, cover any minor chips or disguise discoloured teeth. Non-cosmetic benefits of this procedure include improved bite and the rectification of any speech or eating problems.

Crowns and Bridges

Crowns and bridges are also commonly made from ceramic material and involve the construction of a “cap” that envelops a tooth on all sides. A tooth may have to be reshaped in order to serve as an “anchor” to keep the new material in place, and then, in the case of a crown, the newly structured element can be fitted over it and secured with dental cement. Bridges, on the other hand, are useful when it comes to filling in a gap where a missing tooth was once located. This procedure involves using the teeth on either side as the “anchors” and a whole new tooth is then fashioned and fixed in place.

Dental Implants

An implant can also be used to replace a missing tooth. A false root – usually fashioned from titanium for strength – is screwed into the recipient’s jaw and then allowed to heal. A new “tooth” – once again usually made from ceramic material – is then fitted to the top of the titanium screw. As with veneers, crowns and bridges too, problems with bite, speech and eating can also be solved using implants.

Braces and Aligners

As mentioned, the application of braces and aligners can be performed at almost any dental practice – not just those with cosmetic specialisms. Both work by gradually adjusting the position of the teeth until they are in a more pleasing location, both aesthetically and comfort-wise.

How Do I Arrange to Undergo Cosmetic Dentistry?
There are hundreds of cosmetic dentists practising country-wide. Always be sure to check out reviews – both online and from friends or family – to ensure that you will be receiving the very best care. Many specialists offer free consultations, so you’ll have the opportunity to talk through whichever procedures you are interested in and hear whether they are the best options for your needs.

If you’re interested in finding out more about cosmetic dentistry or arranging a free consultation, feel free to contact Harley St Smile today on 020 7486 6777

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