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Wednesday
Jan222014

Resolved to make your smile a priority this year?

Of course, an orthodontist can check out your bite and give you advice.  But your very first step should be calling your dentist’s office.  He or she can take care of any active tooth decay and/or gum disease, get you on a maintenance program of dental cleanings, and give you treatment options to improve the esthetics of your smile and the function of your bite. 

You don’t necessarily have to go to a dentist who promotes him- or herself as a cosmetic dentist.  There is no formally approved specialty in cosmetic dentistry, as all dentists are trained to replace and repair teeth cosmetically.  Wikipedia states that the only two dental specialties with formal advanced training in dental esthetics are Prosthodontics and Orthodontics.  (So, if you're looking for esthetic options in the Chattanooga area, I think Dr. Baldree and I could be a "one stop shop" for you!)

Often, esthetic concerns have an underlying bite issue that can be treated orthodontically for far less money and with greater stability and longevity than by treating them with facings or caps.  So before having any healthy teeth cut down for crowns or veneers, you should also consult with an orthodontist. 

Please know that many of the highly advertised aligner and “six month” treatments are often limited to correcting just mild to moderate alignment issues without correcting underlying problems with the fit and function of the back teeth.  Be aware that many dentists who provide these orthodontic services are not specialty-trained orthodontists.  An actual orthodontist can offer both limited and comprehensive plans, and advise you regarding the risks and benefits of each approach.

Be sure to ask about how long you can expect your results to last, as well as how much you will need to commit in terms of money and time.  And before expending your life energy on this process, be sure to do your homework and research both your provider and the procedures he or she recommends.  The Tennessee Board of Health has a practitioner lookup here that gives you licensure and educational background as well as disciplinary actions.

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