Cosmetic dentistry might seem to you like a faraway dream, like that trip to Europe you're saving for, or the Botox you figure you'll need one day. Well, you may not make Europe right away (and hopefully never need the Botox), but affordable cosmetic dentistry is completely within your grasp right now. No matter what your corrective problem, you can have a dazzling model-on-the-runway smile with very little effort or cash outlay.
There are only two kinds of cosmetic dentistry, Prosthodontics (which include the removal of bad or decayed or diseased teeth, replacing them with a prosthetic "false piece" or implant) or orthodontic (which is corrective surgery on the teeth that remain). To get a great smile either way, you may need to replace caps (called "crowns"), remove a tooth structure (enameloplasty), or, of course, (and this is the procedure known as the King of affordable cosmetic dentistry) whiten teeth.
Tooth whitening is the most prevalent cosmetic form of such surgeries, and you can buy over the counter whiteners in any price range, $4 to $100, depending on whether or not the stains on your teeth are new or old, ingrained or just plain intractable; the upper end price, above $50, is for bleaching compounds that literally whiten teeth beyond their normal shade. Actual cosmetic tooth whitening dentistry can run you between $450 and $600, although much of the cost is usually covered by dental plans.
Putting a dental veneer on a stained tooth that will not whiten (a procedure known as lamination) is a great way to fix one or two teeth that stubbornly resist the bleaching procedure. It will give you a dazzling "cover" to your teeth, one that makes each tooth uniform with the others-the cosmetic dentist will go to great pains to match colors, in shades of white / off-white. Dental veneers run $925 to $2500 per piece, but the covering used is pure porcelain, and should last 10 to 15 years. If you want to go a bit cheaper, a composite (partial porcelain) veneer is between $250 to $1500 per tooth, lasting seven years or so.
The costs naturally go up if you need more advanced cosmetic dentistry, such as a bridge, (which used to be known simply as a set of false teeth) or implants. The implant will completely replace a single tooth that is non-repairable, has fallen or been knocked out, and cannot be fixed with any crown or cap. An implant will typically run you $1,000 to $5,000; a full set of them, which is an entire reconstruction of the mouth, will run between $25,000 and over $100, 000 depending on time, labor, the dentist used and the extent of reparative surgery necessary.
The dental bridge is the most advanced cosmetic dentistry short of replacing a full mouth of teeth - it is a piece that fits into an open gap in your teeth, and can cost between $1000 to$3000 per tooth (so realize the final price is a multiple of those).
Check with your dental plan, since many of them cover all these surgeries. And smile! Cosmetic dentistry will give you a nice one!