Ask the expert: What is cosmetic dentistry?

Ask the expert: What is cosmetic dentistry?
Expert tips on the pros and cons of cosmetic dentistry and what treatments are available for your teeth, according to cosmetic dentist Alfonso Rao

How did you become interested in cosmetic dentistry?

I’ve had a passion for healthcare since I was young. When I started working in dentistry, I realised how impactful it can be on patients’ lives when you give them back their smile, and how important that is for self-esteem.

What are the main cosmetic dental treatments?

Invisible braces are an increasingly popular option in cosmetic dentistry
In the last few years, minimally invasive dentistry has become extremely popular. We try to improve as much as we can without biological damage to the teeth.
The most popular is braces, including invisible braces, which can be done at any age. The second is whitening. There’s also an increase in bonding—adding composite and resin to improve the shape of the teeth.
A treatment to resolve medical problems is implants to replace missing teeth, often because of an accident or gum disease.

What are the benefits?

Cosmetic dentistry improves patient confidence. Braces improve the bite, preventing wear and chipping, balance and jaw joint problems, and make teeth easier to clean. Good cleaning can prevent bacteria in the mouth causing teeth and gum issues.

What are the disadvantages?

No extensive treatment is required to fit composites or invisible braces, so you must be careful of which cosmetic dentist you choose to work with
There’s a lot of marketing online and medical tourism offering treatments abroad. Dental treatment is a medical treatment. It’s not like buying clothes. It’s also about maintenance.
People buy treatment upfront without a proper assessment, perhaps based on a photograph.
Also, you don’t need extensive training to do composites or invisible braces. They are sometimes done by relatively inexperienced dentists who might not be able to diagnose or deal with complications.

How should you choose a cosmetic dentist?

It’s important to meet two or three dentists and compare. Ask family and friends. Having a good general dentist who can refer you is helpful.
Avoid an invasive procedure for the sake of a good aesthetic result. Veneers and crowns give immediate results but weaken the tooth and there’s a risk of damaging the nerve.
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