Common Questions

Are clear braces effective for treating crooked teeth?

Clear braces are ideal for patients with mild to moderate tooth misalignment. Clear aligners are safe and effective at gradually shifting teeth into proper alignment. Some patients with malocclusion can benefit from straightening their crooked teeth. Often times bite issues are related to crooked teeth. Your AACD dentist will help you determine if clear braces or traditional orthodontics or retainers will best treat your malocclusion.

What are the benefits of clear braces?

Clear braces are discreet, comfortable, and effective. Teen and adult patients benefit from being able to continue their normal daily social and professional interactions with the embarrassment of metal braces. Clear aligners gradually shift teeth into alignment with barely anyone else noticing you are wearing them.

Clear braces fit snugly against the teeth so patients can speak normally while wearing the aligners. They are removable for effective oral hygiene reducing the risk of cavities often associated with traditional metal braces.

Can teens wear clear aligners?

Yes. Clear braces are safe and effective for teenaged patients with mild to moderate orthodontic concerns. Ask your AACD dentist about clear braces options for your teen.

Can clear braces be used to close gaps in teeth?

Yes. Clear braces are highly effective for closing minor to moderate gaps between teeth. The aligners are designed to gradually shift teeth closer together closing gaps in the teeth. Your AACD dentist will determine if clear braces or other cosmetic dental procedures will provide the best results for you.

I don't like my teeth or my smile — what can I do?

A wide variety of options are available to improve tooth function and how your smile looks. Check out our “Cosmetic procedures” section to see how other patients with similar problems were helped, then look for an AACD dentist near you to get started on your new smile.

How much does it cost to get a great smile?

Like most services, cost varies based on the amount of time required and the difficulty of the procedure(s). Generally, improving a smile requires a combination of treatment options such as bleaching, reshaping gums, and using bonded materials (resin or porcelain) to improve the appearance of the teeth. A great way to start is by having a consultation with an AACD dentist to determine how you can reach your goals. Improving your smile is an investment in you.

I have dental insurance. Will it pay for my new smile?

Most dental insurance has very low total benefits per year, which may offset the cost for regular checkups, but probably won’t pay toward cosmetic services. Insurance is a business; thus, your carrier will often contract to pay for the least expensive option instead of the best solution for your particular needs or desires. Many AACD dentists will work to maximize your benefits, and may have suggestions for alternative methods of financing so you can obtain the treatment of choice.

What are some benefits of cosmetic dentistry?

A great smile should improve your self-confidence, which can have a positive impact on the social and professional aspects of your life. Cosmetic dentistry is not just about pretty smiles though. New techniques and materials are available for back teeth as well as those seen when you smile. Now your mouth can look great, get healthy, and function better all at the same time. Ask an AACD member dentist what’s available for you.

Why should I go to an AACD dentist?

AACD member dentists have shown a special interest in new technologies and procedures, specifically to help them achieve better results for you. The AACD provides a wide variety of educational and mentoring opportunities to assist member dentists in attaining the best possible clinical skills to help promote excellent care for their patients.

What is AACD Accreditation?

Accreditation is a rigorous test of skills in cosmetic dentistry, developed by the AACD more than 25 years ago, and supervised by the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dentists and dental laboratory technicians who carry this credential have submitted documentation and actual dental cases of exceptional work to a panel of examiners, and after a rigorous testing and peer review process, have been awarded the “AACD Accredited” designation.

How many office visits will it take to fix my teeth and improve my smile?

This varies with each individual, depending on the need. Sometimes, you can dramatically improve your oral health and appearance in just a couple of visits. Most AACD dentists will work to make your treatment as convenient as possible, perhaps choosing slightly longer visits instead of frequent trips to the office. Discuss your goals and concerns with your dentist so the best plan can be developed for your individual situation. If you start today, a new smile can be yours sooner than you think.

What will my new smile look like?

Your AACD dentist will work with you in choosing the right look for you. A smile enhancement can be made to look both dramatic and natural. Your dentist can use photographs (in a process called cosmetic imaging) and models to show you what to expect. Sometimes, trial materials can be placed directly on your teeth to help you visualize the change. Ask your dentist what can be done to give you the smile you desire.

Is my new smile permanent?

With good home care and regular visits to your dentist, modern materials can last for many years, possibly decades. Like most things, excellent maintenance will extend the life of your dental restorations.

If my teeth are reshaped for veneers or crowns, what will they look like? Will they be sensitive?

Generally, cemented restorations such as crowns or veneers (see the procedure section) will require two visits: one to shape the teeth and one to cement the restorations to the teeth. Between visits, your dentist can place attractive provisional restorations to help prevent sensitivity, allow limited function, and provide a nice smile. These temporaries are designed to be in your mouth for a limited time, but should be comfortable and natural looking until your new smile is completed.

If I have veneers, will I get cavities?

There is no higher or lower incidence of tooth decay with veneers as long as they receive proper care.

How long do porcelain veneers last?

The expected lifetime of a porcelain veneer is somewhere between seven and 20 years. Veneers sometimes come off or chip. If this happens, they can be repaired or replaced. Also, over time, the living tooth and gum tissue around the veneers will undergo changes that may require alterations to your veneers.

How do I get veneers to match my other teeth?

This concern will be addressed by your dental professional. Most people get their veneers in a whiter shade than their natural teeth and then undergo tooth whitening to create a matching aesthetic.

Do porcelain veneers stain?

No, porcelain veneers should never stain. Learn more about veneers.

Does dental insurance cover porcelain veneers?

It depends on your dental insurance. Some insurance companies will cover up to 50% of a fee they see as reasonable, but don’t expect payment without first discussing the procedure with your dentist and insurance provider.

If I want dental implants, how do I start the process?

Getting dental implants begins as every dental procedure does: with a visit to your general dentist. He or she is in the best position to consider your request, examine your current condition and your past records, then help you make an informed decision. Your general dentist can then refer you to a specialist, or several specialists, who are trained to handle your specific dental concerns. Learn more about dental implants.

How do I know if my dentist can do dental implants?

Dental implants are a specialty in dentistry and not all general dentists have the background necessary to provide their patients with dental implants. It is up to you to ask your dentist if he or she has the proper education and experience.

What should I know before having dental implant surgery?

Your selected dental professional should thoroughly explain your dental implant surgery to you, from before it begins, through the procedure, and all aftercare. You will be given an informed consent form to read and sign prior to surgery. Make sure you read this form thoroughly.

What are “teeth in a day”?

“Teeth in a day” is a common advertising slogan in dental implant centers. This is typically a bit misleading as few people are really able to get a dental implant in a day, and even then it tends to be a two-day affair. Unfortunately, “teeth in a day” is more hype than reality.

Can a general dentist perform dental implant surgery?

Some general dentists have taken the extra training necessary to perform dental implant surgery and some have not. You should ask your dental professional if he or she has had the training and experience required by law, and even if he or she has, it’s your choice as to whom you use for this procedure — your dental professional or a surgical specialist.

Are dental implants painful?

Most patients do experience some minor discomfort the first day after their dental implant surgery and may still have a little residual pain the second day, but when compared to tooth extraction, dental implants tend to be less painful.

Can I convert my dentures into an implant overdenture?

This is something your dental professional will have to decide, but it is not out of the question, so be sure to ask.

Are overdentures expensive?

Overdentures are more expensive than conventional dentures, so weigh this carefully with the vast benefits overdentures provide.

How long does it take to get overdentures?

From beginning to end, the entire process for overdentures takes several months. Expect three to four months for your overdenture fitting and placement.

Do I need two or four implants for overdentures?

Whether you need two or four dental implants is an individual decision. There are several considerations to be thoroughly explored by you and your dental professional before proceeding with two or four implants.

Will it hurt to have my child’s teeth fixed and what is the cost?

These questions are typically the first ones asked when a child has injured his or her mouth or teeth. This is subjective and depends on the situation. If your child suffers a mouth or tooth injury, it is important to see a dental professional as soon as possible to evaluate the situation and to possibly prevent further damage.

My child’s front teeth stick out. are they more likely to get hurt?

Yes, children and adults with protruding front teeth are more likely to sustain mouth injury. If sports are important to a person’s lifestyle, then a mouth guard should be used for protection. Orthodontics, or braces, should also be considered as a long-term solution.

Why replant teeth in adolescents?

It is true that replanted teeth do not last a lifetime; however, they are expected to last many years. If a tooth can be replanted immediately (within five minutes) after being knocked out, then its survival is lengthened. With an adolescent whose face and jaw is still developing, it’s best to save the original tooth until the adolescent reaches maturity, and then consider long-term replacement options.

Why aren’t baby teeth lost in an accident replanted?

Baby teeth are meant to fall out eventually, with adult teeth to come in behind them. By replanting a baby tooth, you may actually cause damage to the adult tooth behind it. It’s the adult tooth that should be of primary concern.

Is tooth whitening bad for my enamel?

There is no permanent damage caused to the enamel or any other tooth structures by tooth whitening.

Does tooth whitening cause permanent tooth sensitivity?

Sensitivity from tooth whitening is always transient. That means if there is any sensitivity caused by the whitening, it goes away within one to two days after the treatment, and the patient returns to the state of sensitivity he or she had prior to starting the whitening process.

Can I get my teeth whitened?

Most people are candidates for tooth whitening, but again, each situation is unique and it’s best to contact your dental professional.

How long does tooth whitening last?

Typically you can expect whitening to last from six months to two years, although some studies report results lasting up to ten years. Avoiding red wine, coffee, and smoking — all of which can cause staining — helps preserve the results.

Is tooth bleaching safe?

Yes, many studies have proven that tooth whitening is safe. You can protect your tooth enamel by using calcium sulfate and fluoride.

How much does tooth whitening cost?

Prices vary widely for tooth whitening. Over-the-counter kits can cost as little as $20, with extensive in-office procedures approaching up to $1,000. If you want professional whitening, expect the price to be around $300 to $800. If you want an at-home bleaching kit from your dentist, expect to pay between $300 and $600. Learn more about dental insurance and financing.

Does tooth whitening affect fillings, veneers, or crowns?

Tooth whitening has little or no effect on restorative materials such as porcelain or crowns, but it may temporarily reduce the bond strength between enamel and composite restorations. This is why it’s a good idea to check with your dental professional before beginning any course of tooth whitening.

Is the agent used in tooth whitening toxic?

Products developed from carbamide peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, and urea (substances found in every human cell), should be used cautiously to alleviate concern. Those who have issues are the ones who don’t follow instructions and overuse the products for months or years.

Do toothpaste whiteners work?

Whitening toothpastes typically only clean surface stains and don’t actually change the color of the teeth. There may be some visible results, but the teeth aren’t actually being whitened.