Ladies and gentlemen, cosmetic dentistry is no longer just for Mom and Dad. Teens have caught on, and they’re looking to you for help in boosting their self-esteem, combating cavities and correcting congenital cosmetic concerns. With everyone on television sporting an uber-white, perfect smile, your kids are no longer going to settle for you being the only person in the family with access to cosmetic procedures – they want in too. So, settle in and read up about what’s available and what’s safe for their age group.
Whitening: If your teen hasn’t already asked to have their teeth whitened professionally, you can bet they will soon. They’ve probably already experimented a bit with whitening toothpaste, or perhaps a take-home whitening kit, so you should be aware of the effects. Whitening for teens can be okay, but you need to seek out the advice of your dentist. And, since your children aren’t likely to research the idea too much before running headlong into their own solution, you may wish to bring up the subject first. Why? Because whitening too early can actually make the teeth of a growing child look worse. Consult with your dentist for advice specific to your teen, and know that, generally speaking, most doctors tend to recommend against whitening until after a teen's teeth have fully matured – typically after the age of sixteen.
Veneers: When possible, teens can sometimes be good candidates for veneers to correct mild alignment or shape imperfections. In these cases, veneers can be an excellent solution for a cracked or chipped tooth, particularly if you’ve got an athlete in the family with an early competitive battle scar. Here is a quick primer on veneers.
Enamel Shaping: Enamel shaping is an affordable cosmetic solution, and because of its ease of application and usefulness in a wide variety of cosmetic concerns, shaping can be used all manner of imperfections including: chipped, ill-defined, cracked and uneven teeth. It can be a wonderful solution for children of all ages. Enamel shaping is also used to close gaps between teeth. Other than being affordable, this procedure also has the benefit of speed, and can be done at the office during a regular visit.
Gum Contouring: If your teen is concerned about a gummy smile, a gum lift or “gum contour” can deliver a lifetime injection of self-esteem in a single visit. In this procedure your dentist re-shapes the gum line, visually aligning the teeth and creating a more natural depth to the tooth by removing excess gum tissue. The results are often dramatic, and as with enamel shaping, in nearly all cases, the procedure can be completed in a single visit.
Bridges and implants: Occasionally, a teenager can find themselves a tooth or two short of a full house. Whether the absence is congenital, or due to trauma, decay, or medical side effect, dental bridges and implants can be remedies worth exploring. While bridges can be utilized at nearly any age, a dental implant should only be considered once the child’s skeletal development has been deemed complete.
Braces! Of course, we’ve saved the best and most common for last. If your teen hasn’t been gifted with a perfect set of teeth (and who is, really!?), then the conversation of braces will surely be raised at the dinner table. And you may not know it, but the orthodontic landscape has changed dramatically since the time you may have sat in the chair. Alas, we have you covered, and will close with our take on the new dizzying array of choices in braces for you and your teen to consider.
As you can see, there are lots and lots of cosmetic option for teens. They’re not frivolous, and they’re often more affordable than you would imagine. So, the next time your child asks you for a gift certificate to their dentist for their birthday, don’t laugh it off … they’re probably very serious, and your dentist likely has one at the ready!