Perfecting a Smile: Popular Trends in Cosmetic Dentistry

Published July 28th, 2016   

trends in cosmetic dentistry

Everyone has dreamed of wearing a perfect smile: straight, white teeth that gleam and dazzle everyone in your path. Your smile is an important part of your personality, and it helps make an impression on the people you meet. Luckily, a great smile is within reach for anyone who wants it through the magic of cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic dentistry includes any dental work that’s performed to improve the appearance of your mouth, including your teeth, your bite or your gums. This could include changing the shape or color of your teeth, or moving them into a different alignment. The final outcome is a whiter, brighter, prettier smile.

We love helping patients who visit our Glendale, AZ, dental office achieve their dream smile. We do this by keeping up with the latest cosmetic dentistry trends, which include better and faster ways to improve your teeth. When new procedures become available that can help you, we want to be able to offer them as quickly as possible.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this primer on 2016’s most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures, to give you a look at all the options you may want to consider to improve your teeth. We’ll discuss:

  • How cosmetic dentistry has changed over the years
  • The rise of 3D dentistry
  • Which trends are gaining and fading

First, let’s take a brief look at the history of cosmetic dentistry before we move into new cosmetic dentistry trends.

Cosmetic Dentistry Innovations Throughout History

It may come as a surprise to hear cosmetic dentistry has been around for millennia. In fact, historians believe the first pair of dentures were made in 700 B.C., fashioned out of animal teeth by the ancient Etruscans. Over the years, people used other objects as stand-ins for teeth, such as animal bones and even seashells. By the time the Roman Empire rose to power, people were scrubbing their teeth with toothpaste containing abrasive substances, such as ammonia, in an attempt to wipe away stains.

1st pair of dentures

Through the 1600s, early dentists were actually barbers who pulled double-duty between teeth and hair. But by the late 1700s, dentistry had become a separate profession, and these practitioners began cosmetic dentistry procedures that laid the foundations for today, including fashioning dentures made of porcelain. At the turn of the 20th century, dentists were making individual porcelain teeth to cap missing or worn ones.

Cosmetic dentistry became more common in the 1990s, when the term was first coined. Movie stars and celebrities flashed their gorgeous, cosmetically enhanced smiles on camera and in magazines, and people flocked to the dentist in hopes of duplicating those mouths. Procedures that were at first considered rare, expensive, and difficult, such as teeth straightening and bleaching, became commonplace.

The Top Aesthetic Dentistry Trends

That brings us to today. There have never been more options for enhancing your smile than we have right now. Whether you need a tooth replaced, whitened, or moved, your dentist can draw on an array of tools to help you out.

minimally invasive dental procedures

While the methodology has changed, the aim of cosmetic dentistry has remained the same: to create more appealing smiles. These days, patients prefer minimally invasive procedures that will cause them the least amount of discomfort. Many of the advances made in cosmetic dentistry are aimed at achieving this end.

The goal is to make the cosmetic dentistry experience as painless and as fast as possible. We know our patients often have busy schedules. They may be interested in improving their smiles, but they don’t have hours to spend sitting in our dental chair waiting for their teeth to be whitened or straightened. A great deal of current dental technology has focused on speeding up these processes to save patients from having to make return visits to our office, as well.

Some of the most in-demand cosmetic dentistry procedures this year include:

  • Invisalign teeth straightening
  • Crowns
  • Bonding
  • Teeth whitening
  • 3D dentistry

Each one of these procedures can help a patient feel more comfortable and more confident in their smile. It’s important to consider whether a procedure is not just trendy, but actually helpful — otherwise, it’s not worth performing. Here’s an in-depth look at each of these trends.

Invisalign: Convenient Orthodontics

Invisalign is often referred to as “invisible braces,” and that’s exactly what they are. An alternative to metal braces, these clear plates can be used to straighten your teeth, often in less time than traditional braces would take. Many people choose them because they’re less obvious than metal braces, though they’re not entirely invisible.

Invisalign has risen in popularity in part because adults interested in straightening their teeth want to use a method that’s less obvious than metal braces. They may be embarrassed about wearing teeth straighteners at their age, or they may have a job where their appearance is important and metal braces would be a hindrance. Whatever their reasoning, they come to the dentist or orthodontist eager to explore straightening options other people will not be able to see.

Crowns: Capping Gaps in the Smile

Crowns are, annually, one of the most-requested cosmetic dentistry procedures across the country. In 2015, more dentists said they made patients crowns than any other cosmetic procedure, at 82 percent. Crowns are generally made of porcelain. They are meant to replace a missing or severely damaged tooth, either by filling a hole or fitting over an existing tooth. Patients may request crowns when:

crowns in 2015

  • They have root canals that lead to the removal of much of a tooth
  • A tooth is knocked out in an accident
  • Decayed or cracked teeth leave little of the original structure
  • A tooth with several fillings begins to deteriorate

Adding a crown to your mouth can fill gaping holes that would otherwise stand out and mar the smile. While crowns are not a new innovation in cosmetic dentistry, we’re always improving the way they’re done. We can now complete a crown in just one visit using Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, whereas it used to take at least two visits to finish them. We use a computer to generate the crown from a 3D digital mold.

Dentists know crowns will always be among the most-requested cosmetic dentistry procedures, and so we eagerly investigate any new ways to make or apply crowns to add to our patients’ comfort.

Bonding: Fixing Small Imperfections

Like crowns, bonding is another cosmetic dentistry procedure that’s been available for decades but remains one of the most popular options for improving the look of your teeth. Bonding uses resin to fill in gaps between teeth or cover over existing teeth in order to make them appear “perfect.” Bonding may also be used when teeth:

  • Become chipped or cracked
  • Are not of equal length
  • Change shape over time so that they’re no longer uniform
  • Have large spaces between them
  • Rot next to the gum
  • Grow stained or discolored

Bonding offers a permanent solution — something that teeth whitening, for instance, cannot ensure. If you want to permanently turn your teeth white, bonding is a better option than bleaching, which only lasts a certain period of time. Patients tend to prefer bonding over other options, because it’s less expensive than some other cosmetic dentistry procedures. The original tooth also remains preserved better than with a crown or veneer.

Teeth Whitening: Presenting a Brighter Smile

dealing with teeth discoloration

The popularity of teeth whitening and bleaching has skyrocketed over the past two decades. It’s certainly one of the fastest and most notable ways to change your smile, which has contributed to its rising status. Just about everyone is a candidate for whitening, since our tooth color dulls and fades over time. But people who engage in these activities are especially vulnerable to discoloration:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking red wine, cola, tea, or coffee
  • Demonstrating poor dental hygiene habits
  • Using certain antibiotics, such as tetracycline

Teeth whitening requires only two office visits. The minimal time commitment also makes this among the most sought-after cosmetic dentistry procedures. Patients can apply the trays made for teeth whitening at home.

3D Dentistry: The Latest Major Cosmetic Dentistry Trend

Perhaps the most exciting trend in cosmetic dentistry right now is 3D dentistry. This is probably not surprising — digital elements have crept into every facet of our lives, so it’s little wonder dentistry would be among them. The concept of 3D dentistry is to use a three-dimensional approach to treatment. We believe 3D dentistry will play a crucial role in the future of cosmetic procedures.

That’s because 3D dentistry is more efficient, more precise, and more in-depth than traditional methods. It helps dentists get a better look at what they’re treating and how they can offer better assistance. It makes our jobs easier and gives our patients better results, which we believe should be at the heart of any dental innovation.

To get the three-dimensional information needed for 3D dentistry, dentists employ cone beam computed tomography machines, also called CBCTs. We recently installed a CBCT at our Peoria-area dental practice. The machine provides a 3D rendition of the patient’s mouth, compared to the 2D view offered by traditional X-ray machines.

This enhanced view can be incredibly beneficial to a dentist. It helps them to see the entire mouth — not just the small corner where the X-ray is being taken. It allows them to see how the different teeth abut one another and where they sit in relation to each other in the mouth. It’s much easier for a dentist to visualize what’s going on in the mouth and what needs to be changed when they can see these things in great detail. The X-rays also show bone, nerve pathways, and soft tissue, which serves as a great help when evaluating an upcoming procedure.

Cosmetic Uses for Cone Beam Computed Tomography in 3D Dentistry

The CBCT technology can be used for many different procedures. It’s not limited to cosmetic dentistry. But it holds great promise for the field, because it’s cable of assisting with:

  • Determining the right placement for dental implants
  • Measuring the jaw and figuring out how to fix under- or overbites
  • Getting a patient ready for reconstructive surgery

Within the cosmetic dentistry field, 3D dentistry is seen as a major game-changer. The CBCT reduces exposure to radiation, which is always a welcome development. But it also offers more accurate detail than traditional X-rays, meaning the dentist will know exactly what needs to be done for any procedure. Scanning does not hurt, and the results become available immediately.

Improvements in the 3D Dentistry Field

The field of 3D dentistry has been around for just a short time — about 20 years. But in that time, it has made huge strides and continues to improve today, with more dentists’ offices seeking out the technology to assist with cosmetic dentistry procedures.

The machine does take up office space, but most dentists agree the tradeoff is worth it to get the improved X-rays. Many people believe CBCT machines will become the primary form of X-rays within the next few years, as more of them are deployed across the country. New research into cone beam radiology emerges by the day, because dentists are fascinated by the many opportunities it presents.

The advantages of using CBCT machines include:

  • Zoning in on one very specific area to examine in an X-ray, even as small as a single root of a tooth
  • Controlling the quality of the image
  • Detecting minute changes in teeth, such as decay
  • Passing easily through soft tissue, including gums
  • Generating hundreds of images with a single scan

This form of 3D dentistry is also quite safe. Initially, there had been concern about the radiation, but dentists quickly got over those concerns by examining studies that said there was no conclusive evidence that CBCT machines caused any damage.

It’s clear that 3D dentistry will be the biggest trend in cosmetic dentistry for years to come. We’re eager to explore this area with our patients to see how we can help.

Cosmetic Dentistry Trends That Go Beyond Treatment

Of course, innovations in cosmetic dentistry aren’t limited to procedures. Dental offices have also made a recent, major shift to using ceramic materials in cosmetic dentistry, eschewing traditional metal solutions. Ceramics hold up better over a long period and, more importantly, they look better in your mouth. Instead of seeing a hunk of metal that clearly doesn’t belong in their mouths, patients instead see ceramic that blends right in with their natural tooth color.

Another trend we see in our office is that of patients becoming better informed about the options available to them. Many have researched their questions beforehand online, and they come to us wondering about the availability of a specific procedure at our Phoenix-area dental practice. We love to offer more details about whatever they want to know, and we’re always thrilled when a patient’s treatment is self-directed, ensuring they’re getting exactly what they want from us.

Visit Our Office Today to Discuss the Latest Trends in Cosmetic Dentistry!

Are you ready to improve your smile? We’re happy to help! Come to AZ Family Dental to learn about the latest advances in cosmetic dentistry and find out how we can assist you in getting the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Contact our office today to set up an appointment, and don’t forget to ask about whether 3D dentistry could help you!