From The Straits Times    |

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When visiting the dentist, do you dread the eye-watering bill almost as much as being at the receiving end of a drill? Well, you are not alone. Besides the fear of discomfort and pain, another factor that may prevent some from visiting the dentist is the cost of a dental procedure. 

A 2019 study by the Singapore Dental Association found that of 1,438 respondents aged between 25 to 60 years old, 89 per cent were concerned about the cost of dental care in Singapore. According to the Ministry of Health, the unsubsidised fee for dental treatment at a public hospital can cost an upwards from $320 for a root canal treatment, excluding consultation, X-Ray, investigation and re-treatment fees.

With a price list that’s not for the faint of heart (especially if you’re opting for non-routine procedures), maintaining your smile is often a costly affair. And therein lies the misconception when it comes to cosmetic dentistry – that it’s both expensive and unnecessary – since it mostly focuses on improving the appearance of one’s teeth and smile. 

“Cosmetic dental procedures, such as dental implants or orthodontics, can also improve a person’s oral function, making it easier to speak, eat, and chew. By correcting misaligned teeth, cosmetic dentistry can also prevent potential issues like tooth decay and gum disease,” says Dr Wilson Dan, who opened Brightside Dental in 2022.

Prior to setting up his own clinic that focuses on teeth brightening, the 31-year-old has worked as a dentist with Singhealth Polyclinics and the Singapore Armed Forces. While the upkeep of one’s smile is undeniably an investment, Brightside offers a basic 60-minute teeth whitening session that includes a dental consultation, scaling and polishing, as well as an after-treatment kit at a slightly more affordable rate of $599. The average starting cost of a teeth whitening procedure here is about $800 at private clinics.

He adds: “Cosmetic dentistry is important because it boosts self-confidence. Many people feel self-conscious about their smile and may avoid social situations or interactions because of it. A beautiful smile can improve a person’s overall quality of life by both improving aesthetics and function, boosting their self-esteem and improving their relationships and career prospects.”

Below, he lets us in on the basics of cosmetic dentistry.

Dr Wilson Dan, founder and dentist at Brighside Dental. Photo: Brightside Dental

Can you share more about the recent advancements in dentistry?

Yes, of course! Some of the most exciting advancements in dentistry include digital dentistry, lasers, dental implants and regenerative dentistry. Of these, I am most excited about digital dentistry. 

Digital technology has revolutionised dentistry, making procedures more predictable, efficient, and comfortable for patients. Digital imaging, CAD/CAM technology, and 3D printing have transformed the way dentists plan and execute dental treatments. With the ability to reliably simulate the final outcome of procedures, patients are now able to preview their new smile before they even sit in the dental chair. 

Another field of note is regenerative dentistry, which involves using stem cells, growth factors, and other biologic materials to regenerate damaged or lost tissue in the mouth. While the technology is still new and limited, there is boundless potential and I am sure it will prove to be revolutionary in the future.

What does cosmetic dentistry involve?

Some common cosmetic dental procedures include teeth whitening, veneers, dental bonding, orthodontics, and dental implants. It’s important to note that while cosmetic dentistry is focused on improving the appearance of teeth, it is still important to maintain good oral health through regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and oral hygiene habits.

Photo credit: Brightside Dental

Can it lead to better oral health?

Yes, cosmetic dentistry can lead to better oral health in many cases. For example, orthodontic treatments, such as braces or clear aligners, can straighten crooked or misaligned teeth, improving the way a person bites and making it easier to clean their teeth properly. This can reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems.

Dental implants, bridges, and dentures are common cosmetic dental procedures used to replace missing teeth. By filling gaps in the teeth, these treatments can improve a person’s ability to chew and speak properly, prevent further tooth loss, and promote better oral health. 

There is also gum contouring, a cosmetic dental procedure that reshapes the gum line. This can improve the appearance of the smile and promote better gum health by removing excess gum tissue that can trap bacteria and cause gum disease.

For those who have undergone cosmetic dental procedures, what are some important things to note about post procedure care?

The post-procedure care for cosmetic dental procedures can vary depending on the specific treatment and the individual’s needs. However, here are some general recommendations:

Follow the dentist’s instructions! The dentist will provide specific instructions for post-procedure care, including any dietary restrictions or recommendations for cleaning the teeth or mouth. It’s important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure the best results and to prevent complications. When in doubt, contact the dentist’s office instead of checking on the internet.

Depending on the procedure, the person may need to rest and avoid strenuous activity for a period of time. This can help the body heal and prevent complications. Even after cosmetic dental procedures, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene habits such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using a mouthwash. The dentist may recommend specific products or techniques to use during the healing process. Lastly, attend follow-up appointments with the dentist to ensure that the healing process is going well and to address any issues that may have arised post-operatively. 

It’s important to note that recovery times and post-procedure care can vary depending on the specific procedure and the individual’s needs. The dentist will provide specific instructions and advice for post-procedure care, and it’s important to follow them carefully to ensure the best results.

Photo credit: Brightside Dental

What can one expect from cosmetic dental procedures?

The expectations for cosmetic dental procedures can vary depending on the type of treatment and the individual’s specific needs and goals. However, here are some general things that one can expect from cosmetic dental procedures:

Consultation: Before any cosmetic dental procedure, a consultation with a dentist or specialist is usually necessary. During this appointment, the dentist will evaluate the person’s oral health and discuss their goals for improving their smile.

Treatment plan: Based on the consultation and evaluation, the dentist will develop a customised treatment plan that outlines the specific procedures needed to achieve the desired results.

Procedure: Depending on the treatment plan, the cosmetic dental procedure may involve one or more appointments. The procedure itself may involve techniques such as bonding, veneers, whitening, or implants.

Recovery: Depending on the procedure, some recovery time may be necessary. For example, after dental implant surgery, the person may need to avoid hard foods and allow time for the implants to fuse with the jawbone.

Follow-up: After the cosmetic dental procedure is complete, follow-up appointments may be necessary to ensure that the results are maintained and any issues are addressed.

It’s important to note that cosmetic dental procedures are not always covered by dental insurance, so the cost and payment options should be discussed with the dentist beforehand.