It’s annual Dental Health Week, so there’s no better reminder to look after your teeth — and it seems we need it. According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), 65 per cent of the adult population haven’t visited a dentist in the past two years.
This begs the question: is the rise in cosmetic dental procedures due to people trying to reverse the damage of lazy hygiene, or is it because they’re wanting to project the image of a healthier-looking smile?
“The internet and social media has bolstered this trend by showcasing procedures on celebrities and their dental ‘makeovers’,” explains Dr Fadi Yassmin, the founder of DFY Dental. But he adds that no matter your reason for undergoing a cosmetic procedure, brushing twice a day, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly should be a non-negotiable.
Know your why
“It’s important to know that cosmetic teeth procedures make teeth look a lot better, but don’t necessarily make them healthier,” says Dr Yassmin. “Sometimes patients’ desires are not aligned with their dental needs and a professional dentist can help with that decision process.”
Quality Dental founder Dr Luke Cronin adds that while dental health is indeed a factor, in his experience, cosmetic procedures are more to do with appearance. “If poor dental health is your main concern, it’s essential to have that addressed first, prior to any cosmetic dental procedure,” he says. “I’m finding I have two types of customers — younger patients wanting to have a ‘perfect smile’, and older patients 45+ wanting to fix damage and pre-existing issues now that they can afford it. There is no longer a taboo associated with cosmetic procedures. The shift I’m noticing is people wanting to pay more for a better service and outcome.”
Dr Cronin recommends ‘shopping around’ for the right dentist. “This can be a daunting task,” he says. “Always ask to see before-and-after photos of similar cases of the dentist’s patients prior to committing to a treatment as this is crucial to understanding the expertise of the dentist. How frequently the dentist does the procedure is a good indication of their skill and experience as well.”
Help or Harm?
They may be ‘green’, but these natural alternatives could be damaging your teeth — and your health
It’s become the go-to green ingredient for teeth, but most charcoal products are highly abrasive, scratching away at tooth enamel and increasing the risk of decay. The ADA advises against the use of charcoal products for brushing due to the effects on enamel, but also because many of them don’t contain fluoride, an important ingredient that protects teeth. Recent studies have also raised concerns that some ingredients in popular charcoal toothpastes may be carcinogenic.
This pantry staple has held the title of the best at-home teeth cleanser and whitening solution for decades. Bicarb soda does have its place due to its pH-neutralising ability, but can also be abrasive, so it’s best to avoid it where possible.
Apple cider vinegar
Doubling as a less abrasive, natural alternative to mouthwash, apple cider vinegar is actually has a high acetic acid content, so could be eating away at your tooth enamel and causing sensitivity. Vinegar has an average pH level of between 2 and 3, so if you’re going to drink it, it’s important to dilute it with water, rinse your mouth straight afterwards and avoid brushing within an hour afterwards to avoid causing even further damage.
Digital smile design
Using the latest digital technology, dental professionals can design a treatment and show the patient the projected results before a procedure is performed. A combination of 3D-imaging, X-rays, facial measurements and ratios, diagnostic modelling, and photographic and video analysis is used to design a smile that best suits your needs. It is often used in combination with veneers, whitening and alignment procedures.
Made of either porcelain or composite resin, veneers are a personalised treatment where each veneer is designed for each individual tooth. They’re then bonded to your teeth after minimal preparation. When carefully planned out using digital smile design (as above) the results can change both the shape and colour of your teeth. The structure of veneers can mimic the light reflection of natural teeth to blend seamlessly for a natural-looking smile.
A modern treatment for straightening teeth, they work like braces, but are touted as being more lifestyle-friendly. The technology uses 3D-simulation software and printing to create ‘aligners’ that are worn like clear whitening trays. The result is an efficient, almost-invisible way to straighten your teeth.
Red wine, tea, coffee, turmeric lattes – pretty much everything you consume will have some kind of staining impact on your teeth, especially if you don’t brush after you eat. Teeth whitening has never been more popular or accessible. Here’s the deal…
Having your teeth whitened at the dentist is often more effective and lasts longer than doing it at home. Dentists are qualified to assess your dental health and can address underlying discolouration. Plus, the treatment is personalised, the whitening solution stronger and your teeth are professionally cleaned prior to treatment so they’re fully prepped. Treatments take around 45 minutes. Look for Philips Zoom, Opalesence Boost or SDI PolaOffice+ systems at your dentist. TRY: My Smile Cosmetic Dentistry Teeth Whitening (from $349, mysmilecosmetic dentistry.com.au)
Great for long-term maintenance, at-home solutions offer affordable, gentler results. Available from the dentist, or to buy over-the-counter, at-home kits shouldn’t exceed more than 6 per cent hydrogen peroxide — unless advised otherwise by your dentist. TRY: HiSmile Teeth Whitening Kit ($79.99, hismileteeth.com)
Read more stories like this in today’s issue of body+soul, in your local Sunday newspaper.