Back in the day, dentists were there to be dreaded and endured during a six-monthly visit guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. And what did we have to show for it? A numb face and a mouth full of dark fillings. How times have changed. Nowadays,...
"The use of cosmetic procedures can turn the whole experience into an entirely positive one," says Patrick Kennedy from Backwell Dental Care. "Patients leave the surgery looking better immediately and loving their new smile - that's a great boost for everyone involved."
A recent Mintel survey found that a third of Brits are unhappy with the look of their teeth, but thanks to the latest revolutionary treatments, the dream of perfect teeth can become a reality. A number of dental practices not only use the latest techniques to lighten and brighten your smile, but also realign uneven teeth, smooth wrinkles, freshen breath and revitalise your overall look.
Teeth whitening and invisible braces are at the top of the list of cosmetic procedures requested by patients. Tooth whitening is a bleaching process that lightens discolorations of enamel and dentin. The whitening gel is placed in a thin bleaching tray that fits over your teeth; as the active ingredient in the gel is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin, bleaching the coloured substances.
"New techniques, like ZOOM advanced power, can take as little as 45 minutes to work," explains Patrick, "and because of a new active ingredient called amorphous calcium, there is now little sensitivity or pain."
Braces - once the domain of gangly adolescents - are now being favoured by image-conscious grown-ups. Invisible braces allow crooked teeth to be straightened at any time of life, without detection. "One of the most unobtrusive devices is the Invisalign system, which uses a series of clear aligners to move the teeth gradually into the required position," says Patrick. "Because they're nearly invisible, removable and comfortable, they won't interfere with your life."
Other popular cosmetic procedures offered by dentists are muscle relaxants (such as botox) and fillers. Restylane is one of the most common fillers, used to smooth out ageing lines around the cheek and lips. "With Restylane and other similar fillers, wrinkles can be reduced via injections just below the surface of the skin," says Patrick. It is, of course, possible to over-use these kinds of fillers with disastrous results, but a good practitioner can use fillers to great and very subtle effect. "The results are immediate, natural and entirely safe," says Patrick. "It's the same story for botox - less is nearly always more, and forehead wrinkles and crows' feet can be gently ironed out to make you look younger while retaining the signs of life and character in a face."
Of course, if you're perfectly happy with ageing gracefully - and quite right too - there are still many excellent dentists who will be more than willing to provide a comprehensive but more traditional service. But for those of us who are beginning to panic about the ravages of time and its effect on, well, everything really, a one-stop shop that can tackle dental treatments, facial aesthetics and smile makeovers might really be something to make us smile. BY CAROLE PUGH
For more information on Backwell Dental Care, 17-19 West Town Road, Backwell, Bristol, call tel 01275 462421 or visit www.smileforlife.co.uk.