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The deep significance of “cosmetic” dentistry

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By Dr. Stephen W. Durham

The link between a person’s appearance and their well-being is settled, and that link runs both ways. When people feel well they look good. And the better a person’s appearance, the better they feel.

To go even further, a person’s appearance has a lot to do with how they get along in the world. Research shows that people are hard-wired to team up with other people who look good. Through generations we’ve learned to be attracted to folks who appear healthy and capable.

Your smile is your passport.

Research also gives us some surprising insights about the impact of your smile. One study demonstrated that a smile improves a person’s attractiveness – to both men and women – more than makeup.

In another study to determine what attracts people to each other – teeth topped the list. More than hair and clothes, more than hands and nails, more than the car they drive. So, a bright, strong smile signals good qualities in a way everybody understands.

Sometimes nature needs a hand.

Over time, teeth and gums face a lot of demanding use. Eventually, for most of us, they show it. They become darker, or even discolored. They wear down and shorten the length of a person’s face, sometimes even causing or adding to wrinkles. Occasionally a tooth or two just goes missing. And over time conventional amalgam fillings can make our teeth shine in colors and places we probably didn’t intend.

Fortunately dentistry has more and better tools to address these issues than ever before. Cosmetic dentistry can brighten, straighten, add or reduce volume, replace, contour and crown teeth so that just about anybody can have the smile that they would be proud to show. And show more often.

The best ways ever are here and now.

The restorations we use at our practice for fillings, caps and crowns blend with your teeth in a matching color, because we use porcelain and composites rather than “silver” amalgam. As a mercury-free practice from the first, we come down on the side of extra safety for both our patients and the environment.

White, bonded fillings fuse very tightly with the existing tooth, so there’s less chance of future decay. And they don’t transfer heat and cold the way metal fillings do, so the results are more comfortable as well as more attractive. Recontouring teeth, to sculpt more attractive edges, improves comfort and function too.

Dental implants replace teeth that are missing or better off gone. They can transform a person’s whole appearance, and now with mini-implants the process can take hours rather than weeks and months.

Turn on the lights.

Whitening your smile is another great way to dial up your appearance and influence. In just about an hour ZOOMTM whitening gives dazzling results. Some patients choose an affordable, professional-strength at-home alternative for whitening, like the Opalescence© whitening system.

Today patients find that it’s really practical to achieve their own best smile, and when they take that step the positive impact in their lives is even more than they expected. We work with people closely to help them choose the path that suits them best.

A recipient of the 2012 Mastership Award from the Academy of General Dentistry, Dr. Stephen Durham, DMD, MAGD, is a graduate of Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine. He is a past recipient of the LVI Fellowship Award for Neuromuscular and Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Durham practices at Durham Dental at Town Center in Beaufort. For more information, visit his website at www.DrStephenDurham.com or call 843-379-5400.

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