Can Cosmetic Dentistry Improve My Smile?

Posted on: 26 May 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

With National Smile Month in full swing now is a good time to think about the importance of a smile and what can be done to improve it.


It is hard to escape the dazzling Hollywood Smile beaming at us courtesy of the media – from politicians to movie stars, from Eurovision to television adverts, from makeover shows to lifestyle magazines.

However, as a nation, our smiles have traditionally been the butt of music hall jokes and perceived as light years away from the American dream smile.

The reality is that we are becoming more conscious than ever about our smiles. According to a report published last year by Mintel, self-consciousness seems to be the key driver, with women being more self-conscious; however one in two men say that smile improvement is important to them.

The concept of smile beauty is now firmly on the public’s radar with six out of ten people saying they have had, or would have, cosmetic dental treatment. So let’s take a look at some of these cosmetic dental techniques:

Tooth Whitening

A highly effective way of lightening the natural colour of teeth without removing any of the enamel surface. The results can be dazzling, depending on which shade of white you select.

Very few people have naturally brilliant white teeth and our teeth also become more discoloured as the years go by. The effects of tea, coffee, red wine and possibly smoking can also darken teeth. Whitening them can therefore create the perception therefore of a younger appearance!

Professional bleaching is the most common form of tooth whitening. The active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Often, the initial treatment is carried out at the dentist, then followed up by home bleaching using a custom made clear mouthguard to hold the bleaching gel in place.  Usually, a significant improvement can be noticed within a matter of a week or two. In some cases, even quicker results can be achieved using laser whitening or “power bleaching”.

Home bleaching kits are available at some high street outlets or via websites.  However, a word of warning – by law these kits do not contain a lot of the active ingredients and results are mixed. They may also contain other ingredients that could harm your teeth. It is always best to speak to your dentist first before embarking on any form of tooth whitening.

White Fillings

Traditionally, silver (amalgam) fillings have been used for well over a century. They last extremely well, however, the down side is that they may appear unsightly when laughing or smiling.  White fillings (composites) may be a viable alternative in many situations. Recent advances in technology mean they are now harder wearing and more resistant to staining.

The colour can be blended into the natural tooth colour to create, in most cases, an invisible filling. White fillings chemically bond to teeth, so they can be used to mask unsightly marks on teeth or even change the shape of individual teeth to create a more even, pleasing smile. After all, it’s about how you feel about your appearance.


These are very thin slices of porcelain that are chemically bonded to the front surfaces of teeth – a bit like false fingernails, only permanent. 

They are an ideal way of treating badly discoloured, unsightly or misshaped teeth, closing gaps between teeth or repairing chipped or cracked teeth. And because they are so thin and strong, only a small amount of the tooth surface needs to be drilled away before they are fitted.

The results can be life-changing, giving you that perfect row of teeth.

Tooth Straightening

Braces are often thought of as a treatment to straighten children’s teeth. However, teeth at any age can be straightened. And it doesn’t always involve unsightly fixed braces – often referred to as “train tracks”.

In some cases, teeth can be straightened using a series of specially made, thin, clear, mouthguards called aligners. These are so thin that they are invisible when worn and often treatment can be completed quicker than with traditional braces. The results will transform how you feel about your smile.

Nothing Spells Success Like A Confident, Bright Smile

A gleaming, radiant whiter-than-white smile may not be for everyone, yet opportunities exist for less radical and natural improvements to boost confidence – nothing spells success like a bright smile.

The good news is that advances in dentistry mean modern dental treatment can deliver outstanding cosmetic results that are not just the prerogative of the rich and famous. Some dentists even offer interest-free loans that mean you don’t have to dip into your nest egg to afford professional treatments.

Even a regular trip to the hygienist can transform how you feel about your smile and of course, a thorough cleaning routine – brushing and flossing – can make sure you keep on smiling.

National Smile Month

National Smile Month runs from 17 May-16 June. For more information about the British Dental Health Foundation’s National Smile Month visit

For more information about cosmetic dentistry procedures visit The British Dental Health Foundation website at 

About The Author

Dr. Henry Clover BDS, Dental Advisor for Denplan Ltd – formerly in general dental practice and owning his own family practice for many years , Henry now regularly offers advice in the UK media including The Mirror, The Mail, Zest, FHM and Metro.

For more information about Denplan, visit

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