The Top 5 Smile Complaints—And How To Fix Them

New York City cosmetic dentist Dr. Husam Almunajed of Empire Dental Aesthetics sees patients of all ages from all walks of life who seek his help to improve their smile. Ranging from minor easy-to-fix concerns to serious problems that require more extensive restoration work, he reveals the most common complains he hears from patients.

A healthy, good-looking smile is ageless, and as important at 60 as it is at 16. Dental treatment takes a comprehensive approach to both the function and appearance of the smile, and making a commitment to oral wellness is a smart investment that can impact emotional health at any stage of life as well. However very few people are born with a naturally perfect smile, which is why general and cosmetic dentistry are so important.

Consider the fact that 48 percent of Americans ages 18-24 have untagged a picture of themselves on Facebook because they didn’t like their smile… Tooth color and alignment may be the first things you notice about your own or someone else’s smile, but you may be surprised at the other top reasons patients seek the help of their dentist for.

Discoloration
Tooth color can be dictated by genetics, or affected by diet, lifestyle habits (such as smoking), injury or even a history of taking certain antibiotics. The good news is, this can be one of the easiest smile complaints to fix. In-office teeth whitening uses a bleaching agent to erase many types of stains, and optimal results can often be achieved in one treatment (along with at-home maintenance). The exception is stains caused by tetracycline, which require veneers or other restorations to essentially recreate a more aesthetically pleasing shade. Veneers may also be a better means of brightening the smile in patients who have yellow-based stains along with one or more of the other complaints below.

Disproportionate tooth size and shape
This common patient concern can range from uneven tooth length and chips to countless other situations in between. The ideal cosmetic treatment for restoring proper proportions depends on the patient’s unique needs, and options generally include cosmetic contouring to reduce excess length, bonding to restore proper shape and veneers in cases when a tooth requires more extensive repair.

Tooth position and spacing
Orthodontic treatment is often the go-to for improving the position and spacing of the teeth, and braces, Invisalign or more extensive techniques may be necessary when the function of the jaws or teeth are affected. Many patients are surprised to learn that many position and spacing issues can be treated with cosmetic dentistry when function isn’t an issue. Bonding can be used to close gaps between the teeth, while veneers can essentially give the smile a makeover in just a few appointments as opposed to years of orthodontic treatment.

Sensitivity
Sensitive teeth are usually caused by worn-down tooth enamel or exposed roots. Many dentists will recommend a special toothpaste or fluoride treatments for home use, but severe cases may require an in-office treatment. Bonding can be used to reinforce sensitive spots, and veneers can help rebuild one or more teeth to ensure vulnerable areas are protected. If these procedures are unable to address the source of sensitivity, a gum graft can be used to cover exposed roots and restore comfort.

Bad breath
Bad breath isn’t always caused by a lack of oral care, and other causes include dry mouth, gum disease, medical conditions and even certain medications. The first step in treating bad breath is identifying the source, and small lifestyle changes may be able to provide improvement. Addressing gum disease with periodontic treatment or managing other health conditions with the help of an appropriate medical specialist can stop unpleasant breath and prevent the self-consciousness that often accompanies this complaint.