“Use your smile to change the world but don’t let the world change your smile.” Our smile plays an important part in our day to day life, but believe it or not, many people are very conscious of their smile to the extent that it can hinder them from being themselves. While those who are born with a beautiful smile are very fortunate, thankfully the rest of us can still achieve that beautiful smile with the help of professionals. However, there is the widely held belief that visiting the dentist to get that beautiful smile will cost an arm and a leg. 

I recently had a blocked drain at my house, but since we don’t have a regular plumber, we sought the services of our neighbour’s plumber. After a phone consultation, the plumber sent his senior apprentice to fix the job, who spent an hour fixing the job. We also had a mild tap leak and occasional water drips of our kitchen sink which the apprentice dealt with in no time. We were very happy with the services of the apprentice and wanted to fix the charges, and the kind apprentice told us “I only do my work, my boss will be in touch about the bill.” A few days later, we got a bill for the apprentice’s services for $900! This was a nasty surprise for us, also considering that an apprentice was sent for the job. However, this incident highlighted a few facts for me in hindsight. 

  1. We didn’t have a regular plumber known to us, and in this situation were left in a situation to seek the services of a relatively unknown service provider for the relative emergency. Hence, we didn’t have any clue of the shock coming our way.
  2. People generally have apprehension spending a few hundred dollars on a dental visit with a professional dentist who has dedicated many years of their life training within the dental profession. Mind you, these charges are often partially or fully absorbed by your health fund, if you are a member of a fund from which your dentist is a preferred provider. While I say this, it is true that some dentists may charge much more than this, and not all trade jobs cost as high as the bill I received. However, a trusting relationship with your service provider is extremely important and one does need to spend a bit of time finding a dentist that they can trust, and with whom you can discuss treatment options to suit their budget.

On this note, I would like to highlight a few cosmetic treatment options available to get that beautiful smile you’ve always wanted.

Teeth Whitening

The most cost-effective way of getting whiter teeth is to get professional whitening done. There are many whitening options on the market, including online bleaching products. However, we would not recommend those products given they are not backed by independent scientific studies or by the Therapeutic Goods and Administration (TGA) which is part of the Department of Health. I believe one needs to be confident that the treatment they are embarking on is backed by evidence-based dentistry. For more information on the dangers of DIY whitening, click here

Professional teeth whitening can be done at a dental office or at home using a custom-made tray. While bleaching at a dental office is popular, home-bleaching is a cheaper alternative that can be just as effective or even better than office-bleaching, provided that the patient is dedicated to follow treatment instructions over a period of time. For information on teeth whitening, click here

Orthodontics

Having straighter teeth plays an important part in creating an attractive smile. Using braces to move teeth has previously been the standard practice to achieve this objective. Braces are effective, however they are an expensive and cumbersome process, especially for adults, given the need to wear highly visible braces until treatment is complete. Clear aligners, such as Invisalign or SmileStyler are thus a viable alternative in most cases to braces for adults, as well as teenagers that are past their growth spurt. Clear aligners may not be a suitable solution for every single case, however, with advances in technology within this field, this type of treatment may cover over 90% of cases. 

Clear aligners are also considerably cheaper than braces. For adults, it is certainly worth getting a quote for aligner therapy before embarking on orthodontic treatment, as you may be saving up to 50% of the cost of braces. For more information on clear aligners, click here

Veneers and Crowns

Veneers are extensions of your existing teeth made by dentists to create the illusion of straighter whiter teeth. This can be seen on many Hollywood stars, and is clear when you compare photos taken now compared to many years ago. Veneers made from porcelain give the best aesthetic results as the optical properties of porcelain are similar to the enamel on your teeth.

However, while veneers are on many of your favourite Hollywood stars, you don’t need to break the bank to get them done, with more affordable veneer options on the market. Considerably cheaper options include veneers made with dental composite, also known as composite bonding. These may not have all the same aesthetic properties as porcelain veneers, but can still achieve excellent aesthetic results, while they can also be a precursor to porcelain veneers in the future.  For more information on veneers, click here.

The options outlined are not the entire comprehensive list of cosmetic options available for one to get a beautiful smile. My objective is to cover some of the main treatment options available, and the most important point is to speak to your dentist to ask for all these options. The valuable lesson I learnt from my experience with my plumbing problems is to have a regular service provider that I can trust, and in whom I can have the confidence that I am not getting ripped off. Dentists are health professionals who are there to look after the best interests of your oral health and cosmetic objectives. 

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