Over the decades, cosmetic dentistry has evolved exponentially. In the beginning of the 20th century, cosmetic dentistry was very closely tied to standard dental practices. Standard dentistry was in place to fix problems and keep teeth as healthy as possible, which in turn helped with their appearance. Whitening was not a trend as it is today, and many people did not find it a priority to fix chips, gaps or other irregularities in their teeth. Braces were one of the first forms of cosmetic dentistry. While braces also fixed physical problems, braces were a procedure that was focused on the desired outcome of having healthy-looking, lined-up teeth without flaws.
Orthodontic braces as we know them did not come in practice until the beginning of the 19th century. However, history shows that a desire to have straight teeth and a perfect bite has been common for humans for centuries. Archaeologists have discovered ancient mouths with varying methods of teeth straightening or fixing apparatus attached – such as Egyptian mummies with preserved cords wrapped around each tooth in a similar manner to how wires are used to close teeth today.
Archaeologists also unearthed remains in Greek and Etruscan societies that functioned as dental bridges and mouth guards. Afterlife preparation was essential at this time, so a type of mouth guard was used in the mouths of preserved female bodies to obviously keep spacing and teeth intact – for the afterlife. The bridges were designed of gold and found in Italy.
Early Roman bodies were also discovered to use some type of closing device, a small wire bound to teeth used to close gaps or move teeth.
After orthodontic braces were invented by various dental professionals during the 19th century, the 20th century saw a perfection of the science. Today, metal braces and “head gear,” or wire head appliances used to fix severe bite issues, are not always the norm. Sure, metal braces are still common, but wires have become lighter and more flexible, and the time it takes to fix many issues has shortened considerably. Many cosmetic dentists use invisible braces, or Invisalign, today to straighten people’s teeth and fix gaps without any metal additions.
Teeth whitening as a concern began with the ancient Egyptians, who whitened teeth using group pumice stone and wine vinegar. Ancient Romans used the ammonia content in urine to bleach teeth. In the early 1800s, fluoride came into practice. It wasn’t until the 1980s, however, that white teeth became a standard of beauty. Dentists who were using peroxide as an oral antiseptic realized that the peroxide also whitened teeth.
Soon, products were being developed that became easy and popular to use, so many people had the ability to afford to whiten their teeth. Today, white teeth are desired by men and women of all ages and statuses. Cosmetic dentists both recommend ways to complete the procedure at home and provide long-lasting procedures in the office to whiten teeth.
One of the most common ways today to fix rotten or broken teeth is through dental implants. Dental implants were first used with people who had lost all of their teeth and the jawbone below, so dentures were not an option. The procedure has not always been easy.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that an orthopedic surgeon realized that titanium and bone can fuse in a way that is successful for the patient. Materials became lighter, more flexible and customizable, so cosmetic dentists began recommending dental implants as an option for many issues. Surfaces have been improved and procedures have become quicker and less invasive.
Dental veneers were developed in California by a dentist who needed to help change the appearance of an actor’s teeth for a film shoot. He then made acrylic veneers that were attached by a weak adhesive that didn’t last. Eventually, research in the 1980s showed that porcelain veneers could be etched and strongly bonded to teeth by a combination of composite materials and the porcelain itself.
Over time, bonding agents, veneer materials and procedures have improved immensely. Crooked teeth, aged teeth, teeth full of gaps, gum recession, shape, color and symmetry can all be fixed with the use of dental veneers. Both men and women use veneers to change the color of teeth that will not whiten. Thin veneers help older patients have stronger teeth and bites. In addition, preparation for veneer application is minimal and non-evasive. The con of dental veneers? Some veneers do need to be replaced after a few years, but technology is quickly changing that with veneers that are more and more permanent and reliable.
Cosmetic dentistry has also changed over the years in that it has become much more affordable. With convenient procedures, such as dental fillings, teeth shaping and quick braces, more and more people can afford to achieve a perfect smile. In addition, technology is the aspect that has changed cosmetic dentistry the most over the years.
Technological advances have helped develop thinner, more flexible and more natural-looking fillings, veneers, implants and bonding materials. The popularity of having perfect teeth has helped pave the way for easier and much more affordable options, such as gentle contouring methods that easily corrects teeth that are crooked, chipped, cracked or overlapping.
Even Invisalign, which years ago was made out of material that was heavy and awkward, has become a more streamlined, comfortable process and a great option for adults who do not want to go through having braces and retainers. Before choosing to go through any of these options to fix your smile, make sure to speak with your professional cosmetic dentist. Professional cosmetic dentists will describe the best process for your mouth and teeth, since every mouth is unique and has different needs.
It is important to ask questions, maintain strong oral health and get educated about the endless options that are out there. Contact us today to schedule your next dental appointment.