If you’ve looked in the mirror recently and thought your teeth are “aging” you, you’re not alone.

The slow erosion of bite and jaw position, along with gum recession and enamel staining over the decades, have led many to seek the benefits of “Anti-Aging Dentistry, ”a subset of cosmetic dentistry. In fact, a 2015 survey from The  American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry showed that Baby Boomers were the largest category of people seeking an esthetic improvement to their smile.

Whitening, bonding, and veneers are the most requested procedures followed by crowns and bridgework according to the same survey. Let’s look at the most popular procedures and how they can improve your appearance.

Whitening

Years of tobacco use, coffee, and/or red wine are the most common culprits behind the discoloration of older teeth. Trauma to the tooth can also change the natural white layers of enamel to a dingy brown or yellow. But luckily, it’s reversible.

Professional application of chemical whitening agents usually takes only an hour during one to two office visits to complete. Before a dentist applies a chemical whitening agent to your teeth, he will apply a shield to protect your gums. Some dentist-applied treatments also involve the application of laser light to activate the chemicals.

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) teeth bleaching formulas to choose from, but these should be approached with caution. The American Dental Association recommends that before you choose an OTC whitening product, you should consult with a dentist. This is especially important if you have fillings or crowns that might be incompatible with the whitening agent, or extremely dark stains that might be symptoms of problems that should receive professional attention.

Bonding

In dental bonding, the surface of the tooth is lightly roughened, then a composite material is applied to create a new surface. In one office visit, your dentist can work with composite resins to shape the new surface and match the exact color of your teeth, sometimes even using the resin to fill small cavities or to protect an exposed root.

Veneers

A veneer is a custom-made cover that might be placed over just the front surface of the tooth (the part other people see), or over the whole tooth if there are problems on other surfaces. Veneers are made of porcelain or plastic and are colored to match the rest of your teeth. Application of veneers requires at least two office visits. In the first one, the dentist takes an impression of the teeth to be covered. This impression is sent to a lab where the veneers are made to the exact shape required. During the second visit, the dentist applies the veneers.

We’ve written elsewhere about two other important cosmetic procedures: crowns and tooth straightening with braces or an Invisalign appliance. Choosing between these, whitening, bonding and veneers to fix your smile is done in consultation with a dentist who will talk with you about your objectives and preferences.

Lane Avenue Family Dentistry in Jacksonville has the expertise to help you select the most appropriate method to improve your smile and your dental health. Contact us now for an appointment: 907-783-1422.