If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your smile, you might be considering a smile makeover. When people are considering smile makeovers, they have two main questions: How long will it take? and What will it cost?
Today, we’ll address the first question and save the second for a later blog.
What Procedures Will You Need to Achieve Smile Makeover Goals?
A smile makeover is a custom procedure. No two smile makeovers are exactly the same. That means that the length of time it takes to achieve your smile makeover goals depends on exactly what procedures you’ll need.
(Read: 10 Aspects of an Attractive Smile.)
Typically, a smile makeover addresses multiple cosmetic concerns at the same time. Some of the most common cosmetic concerns are:
- Discolored teeth
- Chipped, broken, or worn teeth
- Crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth
- Small or poorly shaped teeth
- Missing teeth
For each of these cosmetic concerns, we have multiple ways to address the problem, and you can design a smile makeover using a combination that best suits your goals and fits within your restrictions, including the time you have for the procedure and your budget.
The easiest way to correct discolored teeth is with teeth whitening. This procedure is fast and effective for most surface-level stains. However, if your teeth are deeply stained, you might benefit from other approaches, like veneers or crowns.
Chipped, Broken, or Worn Teeth
Damage to your teeth can make you self-conscious about your smile. For minor chips and wear, we can use dental bonding, which is very quick and inexpensive. However, the results do not last as long.
More long-term options for a smile makeover include veneers and crowns, which can provide longer-lasting results with only a small increase in treatment time.
Crooked, Crowded, or Gapped Teeth
If your teeth are crooked, crowded, rotated, or have gaps between them, the most common treatment option is orthodontics. This moves your teeth into position slowly, but it can correct all these problems.
For faster treatment, veneers and crowns might be used to reshape your teeth. This can’t be used in all situations, but it’s especially effective for closing a gap in your smile.
Small or Poorly Shaped Teeth
When we are building up small or poorly shaped teeth, the restorations will have to withstand your full bite force. This means we will favor strong restorations like veneers and crowns.
However, in some situations, dental bonding can also be used to build up small teeth to achieve your cosmetic goals.
If you have one or more missing teeth, you have multiple replacement options. Dental bridges and removable dentures are the faster options. Dental implants take a little longer, but they can also last much longer.
How Long Will These Procedures Take?
Before we begin your smile makeover, we will schedule a consultation. Then you’ll probably want to take some time to decide if that’s what you want. Once you commit to the plan, we can schedule your smile makeover.
The length of time time for your smile makeover, then, is the length of time it takes to combine all the procedures together to achieve your results. Usually, that’s just the length of time it takes for the longest procedure in your smile makeover. Shorter procedures can often be done alongside the longer procedures. For example, if you are moving teeth with orthodontics, you can get teeth whitening on the day your treatment is complete without adding any more time.
However, sometimes procedures have to be done sequentially. For example, if you’re getting orthodontics and dental implants, we will want to make sure the orthodontics are finished before starting dental implants. That’s because we want to make sure we have proper spacing of the teeth and their roots before we place the implant.
Here’s how long each procedure takes:
In-office teeth whitening can be done in about an hour, but if you are looking for the best teeth whitening results, we recommend the KöR Whitening system of take-home trays. These can show results in as little as three days, but take a few weeks to achieve maximum whiteness.
Dental bonding can usually be completed in a single visit of about an hour or so. If multiple teeth are being treated, the procedure might be longer.
Dental crowns can take different lengths of time, depending on the approach used. If you need just one dental crown, we can utilize CEREC to make the crown. This can be done in one day. However, with multiple crowns, we will usually send the designs to the lab for manufacture. This can add about a week to the completion time.
A dental bridge can be a very fast way to replace a missing tooth. Sometimes, we can make a dental bridge with CEREC technology, which makes it a single-visit procedure. Other times, we will have to send the design to the lab, which can take about a week.
Veneers are ceramic restorations that benefit from being made in a lab. We will usually send the design to the lab, which takes about a week.
Dental implants are highly variable, depending on your oral health. If your mouth and bones are healthy, your implant procedure can be complete in just a few months, with a cosmetic provisional crown on the implant immediately.
However, if you have poor oral health and need gum disease treatment and/or a bone graft, the procedure can take much longer, perhaps a year.
Orthodontics is also highly variable. Very minor cases can be treated in just a few weeks, but most cases take about a year to complete, and some can take longer.
Can You Speed up a Smile Makeover?
When you start looking at the length of time your smile makeover can take, you might be wondering what you can do to speed the procedure.
Some things we just can’t speed up. Orthodontics and dental implants, for example, depend on the pace of bone healing, and rushing the procedure can compromise results. You might qualify for accelerated orthodontics, which can achieve results at a faster pace, but there is still a hard limit on the time frame.
Other things we can speed up. We can work with the lab to prioritize your restorations, and can sometimes get them back in a day or two. We might favor CEREC restorations to speed the procedure.
Often, the problem is chair time. You might have to spend a long time in the dental chair to get your teeth prepared for restorations, but it’s hard to sit that long. Sedation dentistry can help you sit in comfort for longer procedures. We are among the few practices in Summerlin that offer IV sedation, which can achieve deeper levels of sedation that some people seek.
How Long Can Smile Makeover Results Last?
Your smile makeover results depend on which procedures were used. Here is the expected longevity of each type of procedure:
If left alone, the results of teeth whitening can fade within a few weeks if you consume staining foods and beverages. However, the results are easy to maintain and, with proper maintenance, they can last a lifetime.
In the right situations, dental bonding can last for several years. However, in some circumstances, it might stain or debond in about a year.
Dental crowns can be long-lasting restorations. When properly cared for, they can last 10-20 years.
A dental bridge can last about as long as dental crowns. However, sometimes they develop problems earlier. Sometimes, the bridge can fail under stress in about five years. Other times, the lack of stimulation can cause the loss of bone under the bridge, which can create a visible gap under the bridge, which might make you want to replace it for cosmetic reasons.
Modern veneers are made of advanced ceramics that are highly durable. When properly cared for, they can last 10-20 years.
Dental implants are potentially the longest-lasting cosmetic dentistry treatment. With proper care, the implants themselves can last a lifetime (with documented cases lasting over 50 years!) However, the restoration on the implant (crown or bridge) might need to be replaced sooner. These can be long-lasting, too, though, with good survival rates at 30 years for well-made bridges.
Ideally, your orthodontics results should last a lifetime. You just have to use your retainer as directed. If you don’t use your retainer, you can see these results change back within a few years.
How Can You Maintain Smile Makeover Results?
In the above, you probably noticed that we often referred to “proper care” as a variable in how long your results would last. So what do you have to do to care for your smile makeover? It’s easier than you might think.
Good Oral Hygiene
The health and beauty of your smile are closely linked. Keeping your teeth healthy will help your restorations last a long time. Brush your teeth, floss, and see your dentist regularly to avoid tooth decay and gum disease, which can undermine your results.
Maintaining oral health is about more than just hygiene. It also depends on what you put into your mouth. Acidic foods, staining foods, and sugary foods can all put your oral health and your restorations at risk.
Protect Your Teeth
Trauma and wear can damage your restorations, just like it can damage natural teeth. To protect your results, don’t use your teeth as tools. If you compete in sports (even recreationally) wear a mouthguard. If you clench and grind your teeth, wear the nightguard you were given.
Follow Postoperative Instructions
Each procedure comes with specific care instructions. Make sure you follow them carefully. This includes a follow-up schedule, which may differ from your regular dental checkups. You can enjoy your results when the procedure is finished, but if you want to maximize your results, you have to make all the follow-up visits.