COSMETIC DENTISTRY CAN TAKE YOUR TEETH FROM DRAB TO FAB.
After months of being covered up in a mask, a megawatt smile might be the season’s hottest accessory. Being proud of your smile is about more than just looks; it can be a huge confidence boost. “It’s a pretty remarkable thing,” says Atlanta Dental Spa’s Dr. Peter Boulden, a fellow to the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics. He notes that patients who dislike elements of their smiles often develop muscular limitations to limit how much of their teeth they show. “When we do these smile transformations, we help patients become the best version of themselves,” says Boulden, who has a location in Buckhead.
Taking good care of your teeth should be a top priority, but if it’s been a while since you’ve had a check-up, that doesn’t necessarily preclude you from pursuing cosmetic dentistry. “No dentist is going to do a smile makeover without making sure the foundation [of gums and bone] is strong,” says Boulden, who notes that comprehensive care can mean improving a patient’s dental health and aesthetics simultaneously.
If a mouth full of metal braces is a barrier to achieving straight teeth, invisible aligners are a smart alternative. According to Boulden, Invisalign (systems starting at $4,799) “works as well as braces, and typically everybody is a candidate.” Patients are fitted for a series of custom trays using a digital scanner. Then the clear plastic aligners are worn at least 22 hours a day for seven to 10 days each, adjusting teeth in micro movements toward the desired, straight position. On average, it takes about a year to complete the cycle, with in-office checkups every three months.
Teeth whitening is an easy and relatively affordable way to make a big impact, especially if you have stains from beverages such as coffee and red wine. “All whitening works through hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide,” says Boulden.
For instant gratification before an event or a trip, the in-office Opalescence Boost ($310 per one-hour session) is a fast option. It uses a concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel that can whiten teeth several shades in a short amount of time, though it can cause sensitivity for some patients.
“If you’re not in a rush, I would do the custom whitening trays ($399, including whitening gel) at home,” says Boulden, since the trays offer the same results over time with less risk of sensitivity.
If you’ve whitened and straightened your chompers, but they still don’t have the impact you want, it might be time to invest in bonding or veneers, both of which can alter the shape of the teeth.
Bonding (from $600 per tooth) is a tooth-colored resin and can act as an enamel replacement, allowing a cosmetic dentist to fix chips or square off teeth that are too rounded. Veneers (from $1,600 per tooth), which can change the size, color, shape and contours of the teeth, are one of the most dramatic tools a cosmetic dentist has at his or her disposal. Typically, a full smile makeover involves adding veneers to eight or more teeth. “There’s probably a misconception that changing your smile is too expensive,” Boulden says. You want to find a dentist who will proceed conservatively, making incremental changes until you achieve the desired result. “It’s about finding that perfect Goldilocks scenario for your smile,” he says.
ATLANTA DENTAL SPA
3189 Maple Drive N.E.
A lipstick such as Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster Lip Gloss in Brightening Pink ($27, available at Woo Skincare and Cosmetics) can make your smile appear brighter by accentuating white and canceling yellow tones. “Choose a shade with a cool bluish to pink undertone, like magenta or pink,” says Woo Makeup Artist Cynthia Morrison Eike.
For a touch-up in between pro treatments, try the Luster Activated White Charcoal Kit ($19.99, available at Walgreens). The set comes with mint charcoal whitening toothpaste, whitening serum and a charcoal-infused rinse, and claims to make your teeth visibly whiter in just three days.
Senior Contributing Editor and Beauty Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel, Food and Design Writer and Author.