If your smile isn’t what it used to be, a Hollywood-style smile makeover treatment may be in order. As opposed to a singular correction like a veneer placement or teeth whitening, a smile makeover is a series of cosmetic dental procedures designed to address major smile imperfections.
A typical treatment plan addresses all appearance issues like damaged teeth, missing teeth, misaligned teeth, gaps between teeth, fractures, and severe staining or discoloration. No two smile makeovers are exactly alike because each one is tailored to the needs of the patient.
How Does a Smile Makeover Work?
There are three major components to a smile makeover:
- Symmetry: You want a smooth, consistent smile from ear to ear. To achieve symmetry, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning, tooth decay treatment, crowns, or other dental treatments.
- Color: Depending on the condition of your teeth,your dentist may recommend teeth whitening or dental veneers to help you achieve a consistent, bright smile.
- Alignment: Alignment issues may be addressed with an Invisalign treatment, with porcelain veneers, or with other traditional or cosmetic dentistry solutions.
First, your dentist will assess your overall health to determine the best course of action. They’ll examine the condition of your teeth, gums, bite, and underlying bone, and they’ll look for oral health issues that need to be addressed first. These issues may include gum disease, tooth decay, or bone loss.
If you’re a good candidate for a smile makeover, your dentist will work with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses factors like:
- Texture: Crowns, veneers, and other restorations can be specially designed for a masculine or feminine appearance in addition to matching the color and size of the surrounding teeth.
- Proportion: A perfect smile requires precise proportions. In general, the two front teeth should be dominant, with a 4-to-5 width-to-length ratio. Your cosmetic dentist will examine all of your tooth proportions and help you to achieve the optimal alignment.
- Length: Longer teeth look healthier and more youthful, as teeth tend to appear shorter with age. Your cosmetic dentist may be able to reshape or lengthen your dominant front teeth with composite bonding or porcelain veneers. Laser dentistry may also be used to modify the gum line, revealing more of your natural teeth.
Your dentist will help you to identify the best course of treatment based on your oral health, goals, and budget.
Smile Makeover vs Full Mouth Dental Reconstruction
A makeover shouldn’t be confused with a full-mouth dental reconstruction, though both procedures share common and overlapping elements.
Whereas a smile makeover is largely a series of cosmetic dentistry procedures, a full-mouth dental reconstruction is designed to restore both the look and function of your smile and address serious oral health issues. For instance, if you have advanced gum disease, tooth loss, or a severely misaligned bite, you may be a candidate for a full-mouth dental reconstruction.
This course of treatment might include:
- Dental implants: Implants may replace missing or decaying teeth. Prior to implantation, one or more existing teeth may need to be extracted.
- Root canals: This treatment may help to repair and save infected teeth that are still relatively strong.
- Dental crowns and bridges: These can be used to reinforce teeth with structural flaws. A crown is placed over a single tooth, while a bridge contains three or more connected crowns for multiple teeth.
For minor structural imperfections, your dentist might incorporate dental reconstruction elements into a smile makeover. For example, if you have a weak tooth that’s vulnerable to fracture, the dentist may reinforce it with a crown as part of the smile makeover.
What’s Included in a Smile Makeover?
Although each smile makeover treatment is different, it will usually include some combination of the following procedures.
Gum Disease Treatment
In some cases, the dentist may need to start with a gum disease treatment. If left untreated, gum disease can worsen beneath veneers and other restorations.
The optimal treatment method will depend on the severity of the disease but may include:
- A professional dental cleaning. For mild plaque and tartar along the gum line, a deep cleaning may be sufficient to prevent full-fledged gum disease from setting in. Once the condition advances to gingivitis (mild gum disease) or periodontitis (severe gum disease), cleaning alone won’t be sufficient to eliminate the contamination.
- Scaling and root planing. This process is more invasive than cleaning but less invasive than surgery. It involves scraping plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line and smoothing out the rough spots on the tooth root. Though nonsurgical, this process is usually carried out with a local anesthetic.
- Surgery: In severe cases, the dentist may recommend flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery. These procedures involve lifting back the gums to remove tartar from deep beneath the surface. In some cases, the surgeon may need to smooth out irregular surfaces along the bone to prevent plaque and bacteria from hiding in small crevices. The gums are then shaped to ensure a snug fit along the natural tooth.
Porcelain Crowns and Veneers
Porcelain veneers and crowns are among the most common features of a smile makeover. Both restorations can instantly improve your smile, but choosing the right one is all about determining the health of the underlying tooth.
- A porcelain crown is a cap that fits over the entire tooth. While it offers the same cosmetic benefits of a porcelain veneer, its primary function is to reinforce and protect a tooth that is weak, fractured, or sensitive due to a large filling. The dentist first cleans and reshapes the tooth to support the crown. Then, in a second appointment, the crown is placed over the tooth. Each crown is specially designed to match the size, shape, and color of surrounding teeth.
- A porcelain veneer is a thin shell that is placed over the front of the tooth to improve its appearance. Whereas crowns have structural benefits, veneers are strictly cosmetic and are designed for use on strong, sturdy teeth. They’re often used to cover misaligned or discolored teeth. Most often, a veneer requires three appointments: the consultation, the preparation (during which a thin layer of tooth enamel is shaved to make room for the veneer), and the veneer placement. Some patients only require one or two veneers, but others will opt for as many as eight veneers to cover all visible front teeth. We always recommend porcelain veneers over composite resin veneers (which are less durable, tooth-colored fillings) because they last much longer and look more natural.
For teeth that are missing, severely decayed, or otherwise unsalvageable, dental implants may be required. There are three major steps involved in the placement of a dental implant:
- The post placement. An oral surgeon makes an incision in the gum to expose the bone. Then they drill small holes into the bone to accommodate the post. The post is then inserted deep into the bone.
- The abutment placement. After the gum has had time to heal around the post (osseointegration), the oral surgeon places an abutment on the post. This is the piece to which the crown will attach. The oral surgeon must expose a small part of the bone to ensure that the abutment can be placed firmly into the post. A local anesthetic is used to minimize discomfort during this procedure.
- The crown placement. The crown is the artificial tooth that is placed over the abutment. This final step usually occurs about two weeks after the abutment placement. The crown is designed to match the shape and color of your teeth as well as the overall aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve.
Note that, in order to accommodate a dental implant, some patients will first require other preparatory procedures, like a bone graft. Your dentist can help you to understand the process and what is needed for your particular smile makeover.
Invisalign is the modern alternative to traditional bulky braces. If your smile makeover requires significant realignment of the teeth, we might recommend an Invisalign procedure.
Invisalign aligners are transparent braces that are custom-generated based on computerized images of your mouth. The molds are more comfortable to wear than traditional braces, and they straighten your teeth in far less time. They’re also removable, so you can take them out while eating or brushing your teeth. Best of all, they’re virtually invisible and extremely comfortable to wear. They’re made of smooth plastic and contain no sharp edges.
In addition to treating crooked teeth, Invisalign aligners are also commonly used to treat underbites and overbites.
Forget those supermarket whitening strips; a qualified cosmetic dentist will use professional-grade tooth whitening technologies to restore dull, uneven, and discolored teeth, leaving you with a brighter, more consistent smile that retains its glow for much longer.
Many cosmetic dentists, like Dr. Glosman, use the Zoom! laser teeth whitening system. It’s a state-of-the-art solution that’s effective, simple, long-lasting, and non-invasive. Developed by the innovators at Philips, the Zoom! system uses blue LED light-accelerated energy along with a special peroxide gel to whiten teeth while also protecting the enamel.
The solution is perfect for anyone who has discoloration due to age, oral hygiene, smoking, coffee, or other factors. After the initial treatment, you’re even provided with take-home whitening trays and gel so you can keep your smile as white as can be.
Preserving Your Smile Makeover
Your smile makeover will take at least two appointments to complete. Between each appointment, your dentist will provide you with specific oral care instructions. You may also be given temporary dentures, crowns, or veneers to cover up any “work in progress.”
Once the makeover is complete, the aftercare generally involves basic oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth after each meal
- Floss daily
- Avoid excessively hard foods if advised by your dentist
- Avoid tobacco products
- Visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups
- Visit your dentist right away if anything doesn’t feel quite right
Certain dental installations, like crowns and veneers, will need to be replaced after 10 to 20 years, but most facets of your smile makeover should last a lifetime with proper care.
The Cost of a Smile Makeover
It’s difficult to estimate the final cost of your smile makeover because each treatment is customized based on the needs of the patient. The cost can vary depending on:
- The overall health of your teeth
- The number of teeth that need to be treated
- The number and types of procedures required for your smile makeover plan
- Whether or not your procedure requires dental reconstruction
- The location, experience, and expertise of the dentist overseeing the treatment
With so many factors in play, a complete smile makeover cost can easily range from $3,000 to more than $100,000. The first step is to speak with a qualified cosmetic dentist. They’ll be able to assess your teeth and gums and provide you with a layout of your treatment options and the associated costs. Flexible payment options are available.
Is a Smile Makeover Right for You?
If you are looking to achieve a more radiant, beautiful smile then a complete smile overhaul can be a life-changing step for the better. To decide if it’s right for you, start by visiting a qualified cBeverly Hills cosmetic dentist.
Arthur Glosman is one of the world's leading smile makeover dentists because he has spent years developing proprietary smile makeover techniques that include aspects of both cosmetic dentistry and dental reconstruction. He is able to cater much more precisely to the complex needs of patients than your average cosmetic dentist. He has performed hundreds of the most complex smile makeovers with astounding results.
Once you schedule your consultation, you will understand the possibilities, the limitations, and the costs, which will help you make an informed decision. You may decide that a partial makeover is all you need, or you may opt for the works. Take that first step, and decide for yourself if a smile makeover is in your future.