Last year Americans spent 25% less on dental care than the year before. Many view dental treatment as elective, especially cosmetic dentistry, like tooth whitening, veneers, and braces. Treatment of common dental diseases should not be delayed. Cavities and gum disease if allowed to progress are more expensive to treat and can cause pain and discomfort that can lead to unexpected absence from work. But what about a less than perfect smile? Can it wait?
Diane Umansky, in First for Women, reports that "Smiling helps individuals present a positive image to others, allowing them to gain more respect. Smiling also helps calm the body and make more resistant to stress and pain. In addition, it promotes an overall positive feeling which allows people to find more enjoyment in all their activities." 90% if people rank the appearance of a person's teeth as very important. So arguably a smile that you can be proud of should not wait. But cosmetic dentistry can be expensive.
That's why its important to identify the specific things that need to be changed and to make the improvements needed to have a smile that adds and doesn't detract from your appearance. Generally people notice teeth that are very yellow, a tooth that is not the same color as its neighbors, a missing tooth, and teeth that are very crowded or have gaps. While full-on veneers or braces might be the best way to solve these problems. There are alternatives.
Teeth whitening, even over the counter, can lighten your smile inexpensively. Bonding can, can change the shape of teeth. Reshaping the teeth can help. Maybe just doing 1 or 2 veneers instead of 8 or 16 might be enough to make the difference. The point is you can make some simple changes that can make a big improvement for not too much money.
Jonathan Campbell, DDS, is a dentist in Salt Lake City. His practice continues to thrive in this challenging economy. Part of that success is being able to help many patients achieve a more attractive smile relatively inexpensively.