One of the oldest branches of medicine, dentistry has been practiced from as far back as 7000 BCE, according to evidence uncovered by archeologists. Early practitioners used bow drills to alleviate tooth-related pain, which is pretty much what dentists do today. Sure, their equipment, techniques, and training are far more sophisticated and involved, but a good general dentist still focuses on fixing problems and relieving dental pain. How is cosmetic dentistry different?

Trained in this relatively new discipline, cosmetic dentists are more concerned with form than function. In other words, they care more about how your teeth look than how they work. Their goal is to help the patient achieve an aesthetically pleasing appearance by giving them a dazzling smile. The cosmetic procedures they offer have grown increasingly popular with patients of all ages and include a range of options.

Bleaching

The simplest and most affordable way to get a brilliant, movie-star smile is to simply whiten your teeth. Bleaching is a fast and painless procedure that uses powerful chemicals to remove unsightly stains caused by years of coffee drinking, smoking, or neglect. Unless there is an underlying medical issue, whitening should be able to resolve any discoloration issues you might have. An experienced dentist can often complete the procedure on your lunch hour in as little as one 45-minute session.

Bonding

You know those little gaps in your teeth? The dental term for them is diastema, and they often make people feel self-conscious about their smiles. Bonding is a tooth-colored material that your dentist can use to fill in spaces and gaps and even to change the color of your teeth, if desired. The treatment can often be completed in a single visit and should last for several years.

Crowns

The more you use something, the more likely it is to wear out. When it comes to teeth, the older we get, the more likely they are to chip, crack, or simply fall out. Crowns are caps that cover damaged teeth and return them to their normal shape, which not only improves form, but also function.

Veneers

Thin pieces of plastic or porcelain that are placed on the front of your teeth to change their color and/or shape, veneers are commonly used to correct oddly shaped or crooked teeth. Although completely painless, they may require more than one visit to complete, since the veneers must be customized to meet the needs of each patient.

Implants

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-quarter of American adults age 60 and older no longer have any natural teeth. Dental implants offer a permanent tooth replacement solution that most patients prefer to dentures and bridges. When placed by an experienced dentist, these implants should last a lifetime. They are also virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.

The aforementioned procedures are offered by most dental professionals, and they can allow any patient to walk out of the office with a bright and beautiful smile.