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Beware the instant makeover!

the instant makeover is not always in the best interests of your teeth, or indeed your bite

Caroline Holland

PR for dentistry and medical charities

A stark warning on the results of a quick fix smile

The TV programme Extreme Makeover has revolutionised dentistry in the UK. It wasn’t until we saw just what a difference straight, white teeth made to the participants that we had both the evidence and the inspiration. Thousands of TV viewers thought: ”That could be me.” They weren’t thinking about the new clothes or the make-up, it was the teeth they wanted.

Now dentists all over the country are marketing themselves as providers of complete dental transformations and the British public knows they are both attainable and, with the help of a finance scheme, affordable. The Extreme Makeover has definitely done dentists and their patients a service. Goodness knows us Brits needed to change our outlook!

But, and here’s the caveat: the instant makeover is not always in the best interests of your teeth, or indeed your bite. The result may be a set of sparkling pearly whites, but how long will they last? This is the question you need to ask before you commit to the quick-fix solution.

The cornerstone of the makeover is the veneer. They are usually made of porcelain and are made to fit over the surface of your teeth. Carefully made veneers can hide gaps or make an uneven and ivory-coloured smile look straight and sparkling white. The veneer is to teeth what false nails are to your hands. Some dentists call them instant orthodontics, but that is a misnomer. The fundamental difference is that in preparing your mouth for veneers, the dentist removes the upper surface of the teeth. That’s a procedure which cannot be reversed.

The other drawbacks include questionable longevity and variable function. The veneers will not last for a lifetime. When they have to be replaced, your teeth must be prepared again, losing more of the surface. More importantly, veneers make no difference to the way your teeth meet and if there’s a problem with your bite before the treatment, it will certainly remain a problem.

So, while veneers are a good option for someone whose teeth are damaged or who wants a rapid makeover, if you value what nature gave you and your teeth need realigning, then orthodontics is the only answer.

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