The boom in cosmetic dentistry has made it easy enough to acquire a bejeweled smile or a set of pearly whites. Here's what goes into a dental makeover...
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If you imagined that a visit to the dentist is only about getting cavities filled and root canal procedures done, you need a new perspective. The dentist's clinic is nearly the equivalent of a beauty parlour for many, who are rushing to avail of cosmetic dental procedures that offer solutions for a range of problems and smile makeovers.
'The number of people flocking to us for cosmetic procedures has increased by 50 per cent in the past 5 years,' says Dr Ekta Chadha, consultant aesthetic dental surgeon, Max hospital and Smile studio. While earlier it was just fashionistas who opted for makeovers, now just about everybody wants that perfect smile.
Men are also big fans of high end aesthetic dental procedures. Cosmetic dentistry is very innovative: You can adorn the teeth with crystals and diamonds, a popular trend seen in many dental clinics. Nidhi Mahajan, a fashion designer recently opted for a diamond stud at the Fortis Escorts hospital. 'I was bored of body tattoos and wanted to try something different. This is a great addition and makes my smile dazzling,' she says.
This is a simple ten minute procedure that involves affixing the gem to the front of the teeth. Getting the teeth inked is another hit. 'Youngsters getting cartoon characters and names inscribed on their teeth are a huge draw too,' says Dr Vishal Gupta, consultant orthodontist and cosmetic dentist, Fortis Escorts and Medanta Medicity hospital. Basic stuffTooth whitening and tooth bonding are the most popular procedures and help transform stained, dark or dull teeth. 'A single round of whitening can whiten the teeth by numerous shades,' assures Dr Chadha. Whitening techniques include chemical whitening, mild acid whitening, abrasive teeth brightening with the latest being laser teeth whitening. Tooth bonding is useful for restoring decayed teeth and changing the colour or even reshaping the teeth. The procedure involves coating the tooth with a chemical solution to roughen the surface and make it slightly porous. A tooth coloured filling then covers the area that the liquid is bonded to. The drawback of this procedure is that dental bonding material has a tendency to stain. 'Those who go for this procedure are advised to stay away from too much coffee and smoking,' says Dr Chadha. Tooth bonding procedures cost anywhere between Rs1, 500 to Rs3, 000. While the high end procedures last for 8-10 years, the effects of the cheaper procedures last till about 3 years. The problem of gummy smiles can be solved with a procedure called gum lift. It involves reshaping the tissue to create the appearance of longer and symmetrical teeth, making the smile more aesthetically pleasing. Bridges and dentures are some of the other basic procedures. High end procedures Laser treatments are very much a part of cosmetic dentistry now. Laser depigmentation is one of the most sought after procedures.
'The latest addition is the biolasers procedure, which removes stains on the teeth. Due to the ultra fine focus of this laser, the affected gums and soft tissues can be treated precisely without affecting the surrounding areas. This reduces bleeding, post operative pain and swelling and the need for medications too,' explains Dr Chadha. Many are opting for dental implants too now. While metal or ceramic implants were the traditional choice, now the popular choice is a zirconium implant. Tooth implants have become hassle free too. 'They are immediately loaded without any delay. The kind of implant chosen depends on the person's bone strength,' says Dr Gupta. Implants cost anywhere between Rs25, 000 to Rs70, 000. 'If your teeth are extensively damaged, fractured or discoloured, a procedure called crowning can rescue you. Metal free crowns are preferred to traditional crowns,' says Dr Chadha. Another procedure that uses porcelain veneers can also fix your flawed teeth. But the areas of your teeth that they cover are different. While crowns are also known as caps, coverings that fit over your teeth, veneers, on the other hand are thin custom made coverings that conceal the front and side surfaces of your tooth. Cosmetic dentists swear by veneers, which has more advantages than crowns. 'Veneers are an excellent alternative to crowns in many situations. They work better to change the tooth's colour, size or shape and can mask undesirable defects such as stained teeth and damage due to a serious injury. They last for many years too,' feels Dr Gupta. One ceramic veneer costs Rs12, 000 to Rs20, 000 but porcelain veneers are known to be a better option. Other options like lumineers are part of the veneering technology too. These are ultra thin and translucent and better than traditional veneers as they are so thin that little to no tooth reduction is required.
Stem cell dentistry: While stem cells are being used to treat leukemia, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis among others, research is on to rope them in for dentistry too. Losing your tooth can be a major deformity and although dental implants are available, the healing process can sometimes take forever, and in other cases the implants might also fail to align. Dentists hope that stem cells can work magic in these cases.
A study published in the latest journal of dental research says that a new tissue regenerating technique may actually allow people to simply regrow a set of pearly whites.
Nano dentistry: It wasn't long ago that a group of French scientists made news by publishing a study about a nanotechnology gel that could regenerate teeth. Researchers hope that nano dentistry will do away with many painful procedures like root canal treatment. 'Nanotechnology in cosmetic dentistry could mean a lot. We could do away with many of the traditional long dental procedures if it works out,' feels Dr Chadha. Research is also ongoing with the concept of micrometer sized nanobots. These nano-robots can perform a lot of complex dental procedures like the cure for hypersensitive teeth. Dental nano-robots can selectively and precisely treat the problem by offering a quick and permanent cure. These can boost up orthodontic treatments and bone replacement therapies too.
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