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Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry Cosmetic Dentistry

Giving Patients More Reasons to Smile

Do you have cosmetic concerns that keep you from smiling in pictures? Do you find yourself looking down or covering your mouth when you laugh or smile? Your West Des Moines cosmetic dentist wants you to know that there are several procedures available that could have you saying “cheese!” very soon! Dr. Hawks has the expertise to perform full smile makeovers and repair minor structural flaws. Whether you’re dissatisfied by the shape, size, or shade of your teeth, Dr. Hawks can recommend a treatment plan that fits your unique needs.

Your Road to a Brilliant Smile Starts Here

We offer our patients a number of cosmetic treatment options, including:

Teeth Whitening: We offer teeth whitening, both in-office and through take-home custom trays. This treatment works best on surface stains.

Dental Bonding and Tooth Contouring: If your staining is more extensive, or if your tooth has minor structural damage, bonding is an excellent option. Bonding consists of applying a composite material to your tooth, like the material used in fillings, which evens out the surfaces of your teeth and obscures stains. The material is then hardened, and what is left behind is a beautiful, white smile. On the other hand, if you dislike the way the edges of your teeth are shaped, Dr. Hawks can smooth out any imperfections through tooth contouring.

Porcelain Veneers: If you dislike the shape and size of your teeth, or you would like a more durable solution for repairing stains and chips, then we suggest veneers. Veneers are beautiful cosmetic restorations that reflect light like natural teeth. They also impart durability not found in other cosmetic treatments, like bonding.

Teeth Whitening

Erasing Teeth Stains and Discolorations

Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it can still accumulate stains or become discolored over time. Professional teeth whitening systems provide an inexpensive and effective solution for many types of teeth stains, they are not appropriate for every type. West Des Moines cosmetic dentist, Dr. James Hawks, explains the two primary categories of tooth stains:

  • Extrinsic stains. These stains are the result of external sources, such as the food and drinks you consume or lifestyle habits, like smoking, that you engage in. Extrinsic stains accumulate over time. For instance, a cup of coffee will leave only the barest trace of discoloration on your enamel. However, after years of regular coffee drinking, your teeth will take on a profoundly yellowish hue. Other notoriously staining foods and drinks include red wine, tea, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and tomato sauce. Extrinsic stains respond extremely well to professional teeth whitening.
  • Intrinsic stains. These stains develop from within a tooth and, unfortunately, do not respond to professional teeth whitening. The primary causes for intrinsic staining include overconsumption of fluoride while the teeth are developing, medications like tetracycline, internal damage to a tooth, and some root canal therapies. Cosmetic bonding and porcelain veneers are two very effective methods for masking intrinsic stains.

Choosing an Option that’s Right for You

Dr. Hawks offers two kinds of teeth whitening solutions in his office. At-home whitening is the most popular option. First, Dr. Hawks takes impressions of your teeth and uses these to create a customized set of whitening trays. Next, he sends you home with tubes of professional-strength whitening gel. You fill the trays with the gel and wear it as recommended by your dentist. You will notice results immediately with the full effects visible within 7-10 days.

Bonding & Contouring

Changing a Little Makes a Big Difference

One of the most conservative cosmetic dental procedures commonly available, cosmetic bonding utilizes composite resin (the same material made from a mixture of plastic resins and silica particles that Dr. Hawks uses to place fillings) to correct a number of flaws, including:

  • Gaps between teeth (also called diastema).
  • Moderate to severe enamel discolorations that do not respond to professional teeth whitening treatments.
  • Fix chipped teeth or lengthen shorter teeth.

Contouring a Better-Looking Tooth

As opposed to cosmetic bonding, which adds material to the tooth to change its appearance, tooth contouring removes small amounts of tooth structure to perfect and even out the shape of the tooth. After he assesses the strength and thickness of your tooth enamel, Dr. Hawks will use several files and polishers to gently reshape the teeth. Tooth contouring can improve common smile flaws like:

  • Overlapping teeth (interestingly, since removing overlaps makes it easier to clean between your teeth, contouring can actually help improve your oral health!).
  • Teeth with sharp, pointy, or jagged edges.
  • Even out teeth that are longer than the teeth around them.

Very often, Dr. Hawks can recommend a number of smaller procedures that can add up to major improvements in the quality of your smile.

Porcelain Veneers

Creating a Smile That’s Worthy of You

Have you ever flipped through a style magazine or watched an awards show and wondered how in the world all the people with nice teeth ended up in Hollywood? It’s not a coincidence; it’s the work of some talented cosmetic dentists and porcelain veneers. Now, the residents of West Des Moines can achieve a smile worthy of the red carpet with an experienced cosmetic dentist, Dr. James Hawks. With a single two-phase procedure, Dr. Hawks can correct several smile imperfections, including:

  • Gaps between teeth (also called diastema).
  • Uneven or crooked teeth (a feat which has earned veneers the nickname "instant orthodontics").
  • Misshaped teeth, teeth with pits or grooves, and noticeably smaller teeth.

Porcelain veneers also provide an ideal solution for people with severe enamel stains that do not respond to teeth whitening treatments but who want a solution that lasts longer than cosmetic bonding.

Making Over Your Smile with Porcelain Veneers

In order to uphold his high standards for clinical excellence and ethics, Dr. Hawks will always perform a thorough examination of your teeth before recommending porcelain veneers. If he determines that your oral health and the strength of your enamel is a good fit, he can proceed with treatment. First, Dr. Hawks will remove a thin layer of enamel from the front of your teeth. This critical step allows the veneers to sit naturally along the gums and avoid the large, “horsey” look that characterizes badly placed veneers. After preparing the enamel, Dr. Hawks will take impressions of your teeth so that the lab technicians who will hand-craft your veneers can ensure a good fit. Once your veneers arrive back from the dental lab, Dr. Hawks will double-check them for fit, make any adjustments necessary, and bond them permanently into place.

Caring for Your New Smile

Caring for dental veneers is as easy as taking care of your natural teeth. However, you will need to take a few precautions to make sure that your veneers stay dazzling and bright. Be sure to use only non-abrasive toothpaste, since common toothpaste abrasives can scratch the enamel and dull their shine, making them more susceptible to stains. Don’t use your veneers to tear open packages or crunch on ice. In addition, if you play contact sports, be sure to wear a mouth guard to prevent damaging your porcelain veneers.