Dentists worldwide are seeing a surge in patients seeking cosmetic dentistry procedures like teeth straightening and whitening.
The COVID19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work and play, with many of us setting up home offices for WFH & classrooms for HBL. Despite a slowdown in in-person socialising there has been a huge rise in the amount of time we are spending online. Video calls, team meetings, ’houseparties’ and online workouts have given us plenty of screen time and opportunities to self-inspect with a more critical eye than ever.
Sudden surge in cosmetic procedures
Most people have slight irregularities in their smiles with some teeth crowding.
But with this uptick in interest in cosmetic dentistry, the question is, has crowding been getting worse or is it that the cameras we use are better now and there is no hiding that overlapped incisor?!
Well, it is likely a combination of both. It is a natural consequence of normal facial changes with ageing that teeth can move. As we lose elasticity in the lips and cheeks, our tongue and chewing muscles retain their forces, so the balance of the teeth position can change with teeth becoming crooked. The first sign many adults notice is that their lower front teeth start to crowd. Historically it was thought that the wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth were causing this, but new research has disproven that theory.
Crowding itself is not a huge issue, but it does make cleaning a lot harder, and the likelihood of getting swollen gums or gum disease can be higher. Patients may notice that food gets stuck more frequently between teeth and decay can become more likely.
From an orthodontists perspective, we know that what may start out as a slight overlap has a tendency to continue to worsen, and then this causes a reduction in overbite, which make the crowding even worse. The patient may lose vertical support from their teeth, which may cause the appearance of ageing. This is where orthodontists can help.
Does this always mean braces are needed?
No, not necessarily! For some patients the solution may be a clear retainer to be worn one night a week. This stops the crowding getting worse and is a non-invasive and easy solution.
Some active orthodontic treatment may be needed to correct the position of the teeth. Luckily, orthodontics has moved on a lot from just metal braces. Many adults opt to have fixed metal braces in a white colour. From a social speaking distance, they are barely noticeable.
Lingual braces, where the brace is glued to the back/tongue side of the teeth is a hugely popular option with adults. Many patients don’t even know that this type of brace exists, because they will never see them on another person, and the patient who opts for them never needs to mention them!
Clear aligners are also very popular. These are removable, which is great for eating and cleaning. When worn for approximately 20+ hours a day they do give great results and they are easy to fit into your lifestyle. Clear aligners are great for relapse cases in particular; those adults who had braces as teenagers and are seeing some slight changes that they wish to correct. And the days of dental moulds are long over, with a fitting for any type of brace now just entails a stress-free digital 3D scan of the teeth.
Veneers also an option for chipped, worn teeth
Often a combination of treatment of veneers and clear aligners is the best option when teeth are also chipped, worn or discoloured.
Braces alone will just change the position of the teeth so correcting any of the other issues requires a thin (0.5mm or less) amount of enamel on the front of the tooth to be removed, and an aesthetic porcelain placed over it. By doing a short course of braces or clear aligners first, it ensures the teeth are in the right place, so that the veneers will be more successful. It’s like building a good house foundation before any renovation work.
Using digital visualisation technology, we can design a smile with our patients. We can print out a model of what the new treatment will look like for the patient to try on over their own teeth and then do adjustments as needed. And this is all before an instrument has ever touched their teeth. More than ever, our patients are involved in the treatment plans and outcomes so that total satisfaction can be more achievable than ever.
Whiter teeth are easily achievable
Never underestimate the power of teeth whitening. A short course of orthodontic straightening coupled with tooth whitening is always a very effective and subtle way of enhancing a smile. This is great for patients who like to have natural character in their smiles and are not looking for drastic changes. It is the kind of treatment that is quick and non-invasive with no drills or needles. This can be offered ‘in-chair’ and with a take home solution.
Once cosmetic dentist treatments are complete, friends and family often comment about how refreshed and well rested patients look, but may not be quite be able to put their finger on what has changed. Subtle enhancements and a refreshed look are the ideal cosmetic outcomes for our patients who are keen to return to their workplace and social lives looking revived and ready to mingle!
by Dr Clara Gibson
Our dentists will be happy to provide you with more information. Please call +65 63976718 or email to schedule an appointment at either our Novena or Raffles Place clinic.