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Cosmetic Dentistry Treatment Guide: Process, Costs, Recovery & More

Reviewed June 2024 by Our Content Experts

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry addresses aesthetic issues that can make you feel self-conscious like stained, chipped and gapped teeth.

Cosmetic dentists perform treatments to:

  • Remove stains and lighten teeth
  • Straighten teeth
  • Reshape teeth

Some specific treatments performed by cosmetic dentists include:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Dental Veneers
  • Dental Crowns
  • Dental Bridges
  • Tooth-coloured fillings

With cosmetic dentistry, even the smallest changes can give your smile a whole new look and increase your confidence.

With cosmetic dentistry becoming increasingly popular, more and more patients are achieving the smile they always wanted thanks to a range of cosmetic dentistry treatment options. Cosmetic dentists are helping patients improve their smile and their overall appearance.

It's important you choose a dentist with training and experience in cosmetic dentistry to perform any treatments. Smile dentists are general and cosmetic dentists who are well trained in cosmetic dentistry.

Your Smile dentist can help find the right cosmetic treatment for you.

Find a Smile dentist near you!

What is Cosmetic Dental Treatment?

There are many different cosmetic dentistry treatments available, addressing all kinds of concerns to ensure that you can improve your smile.

Cosmetic dental treatment includes:

While there are many different treatments that can improve your smile, it's important to consult with a dentist and discuss the best treatment option for your individual requirements and budget.

How Much Does Cosmetic Dentistry Cost?

The price of cosmetic dentistry will depend on the specific cosmetic dentistry treatment you are receiving. Some treatments are more expensive than others. Other factors that influence the cost of your treatment might include your state, the materials used throughout your treatment, and the severity of your dental concern (e.g. larger chips may cost more to restore than smaller chips). With Smile dental cover, you get reduced and capped fees on cosmetic dentistry.

Select your state in the cost comparison table below for more detailed examples of the price of cosmetic dentistry treatments in your location.

Cosmetic Dental Treatment Cost Comparison

Reviewed June 2024 by Expert Georgi Mack

Select State:

Item No.

Dental service

Regular Patients Pay

Smile Capped Fee
(Often less)

Save with Smile dental cover!

'Regular Patients Pay' is based on the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and Health Industry Claims and Payments Service (HICAPS).

'Smile Capped Fee' means members will not pay more than this fee & will often pay less so savings are often more!

These examples are guides, your treatment may vary.

Join Smile & save on cosmetic dentistry instantly!

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Types of Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments

Dental Bonding Treatment and Procedure

Dental bonding is great for fixing small imperfections on a tooth. It is mostly used to fill gaps, restore chips and cover stains. A thin coating of composite resin is placed on the tooth. The resin is then shaped and coloured to suit the patient. This quick, affordable and simple procedure is perfect for patients who have minor imperfections on their tooth/teeth and wish to improve the appearance.

The procedure for dental bonding can range between thirty minutes to one hour for one tooth. The procedure for dental bonding is quick and simple:

  1. Schedule a consultation with your Smile dentist to discuss available treatment options and your goals. Your Smile dentist will help you match the shade of composite resin to your tooth or teeth
  2. Your Smile dentist will lightly scratch the surface of your tooth. After your tooth is roughened, your Smile dentist will coat your tooth with a conditioning liquid that helps the resin adhere to your tooth
  3. Your Smile dentist will then mould and smooth the tooth-coloured resin onto your tooth before hardening the bonding material with a laser or ultraviolet light
  4. Once hard, your Smile dentist will trim, shape, and polish the resin until it is a perfect match.

Learn more about the procedure and cost of dental bonding.

Dental Veneers Treatment and Procedure

Dental veneers are perfect for restoring chips and cracks or helping patients with naturally yellow or grey teeth to achieve a white smile. There are mainly two types of dental veneers available: composite resin veneers and porcelain veneers. For both, a thin, custom made covering is placed over the tooth and shaped and coloured to best suit the patient's natural smile. Veneers not only improve the appearance of teeth; they also help to make them stronger and better protected.

There are several benefits for having dental veneers, including:

  • Improved self-esteem
  • Enhanced self-confidence
  • A lasting solution
  • Low maintenance
  • A natural looking smile
  • Pain-free treatment

Dental Veneers Treatment

Dental Veneers Treatment

The procedure may involve the following:

  1. Diagnosis: You should first have a consultation with your Smile dentist where you discuss your dream result and the available treatment options. During the appointment, your Smile dentist may take x-rays or make impressions of your mouth and teeth
  2. Preparation: At your next appointment, your Smile dentist will trim about ½ millimetre of enamel off your tooth. You can discuss options for local anaesthetic to reduce pain and numb the area. Your Smile dentist will also make an impression of your tooth
  3. Creation: It can take between 2 - 4 weeks after your impression is sent off to the laboratory before you receive your newly constructed veneers. You can discuss wearing temporary veneers while you wait for your permanent teeth to be created
  4. Bonding Placement: Your Smile dentist will prepare your tooth to receive the veneer by cleaning, polishing, and etching your tooth. Roughening the surface of your tooth helps to strengthen the bonding
  5. Placement: Your Smile dentist will apply a special cement to the veneer before placing it on your tooth. Once it is in the correct position, your veneer will be photopolymerised. This is done with a special light beam that activates the chemicals in the cement causing it to harden quickly. This finalises the adherence of your veneer to your tooth
  6. Adjustments: Your Smile dentist will make any necessary final adjustments and may ask you to book a follow up consultation for a couple of weeks later.

Dental Veneers Procedure

Dental Veneers Procedure

Learn more about the procedure and cost of dental veneers.

Dental Bridges Treatment and Procedure

A dental bridge is a prosthetic device placed on existing teeth to fill a gap created by one or more missing teeth and create a beautiful smile. The three main types of dental bridges include traditional, cantilever, and resin bonded or Maryland bridges. Your Smile dentist can help you choose which option is best for you.

Whether or not you are a suitable candidate for dental bridges depends on factors such as:

  • Oral health diagnosis
  • Jawbone density
  • Personal preference

Dental Bridge Treatment

Dental Bridge Treatment

The procedure for dental bridges is simple:

  1. Your Smile dentist will prepare the teeth next to the gap for the treatment by reshaping them. This creates room for the bridge to be placed
  2. Your Smile dentist will then take impressions of your teeth to ensure a perfect, customised fit. The impression is sent to a dental lab as a model for your bridge
  3. In the meantime, your Smile dentist will create a temporary bridge for you to wear
  4. Once your bridge is created, your Smile dentist will fit and adjust your bridge so it fits you perfectly. You may need to visit your Smile dentist multiple times to have a correct fit and bite
  5. If your bridge is a fixed bridge, it may be placed temporarily for a trial period before its cemented. This is to ensure your dental bridge fits comfortably.

Your Smile dentist will consider certain factors, such as the health of your surrounding teeth and your gums, before determing how many teeth need to be replaced.

Dental Bridge Procedure

Dental Bridge Procedure

Learn more about the procedure and cost of dental bridges.

Dental Crowns / Tooth Caps Treatment and Procedure

Dental crowns or tooth caps can generally restore your smile in just two visits to your Smile dentist - no matter whether you need to correct chipped, cracked and worn down teeth or misshaped and discoloured teeth. This simple procedure is ideal for patients looking to restore the shape, size and strength of their teeth. Crowns are available in several materials including metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin and ceramic depending on your needs and budget.

The main benefit of dental crowns is aesthetics. Dental crowns improve the appearance of your teeth and can help you feel more confident in your smile.

Dental Crowns Treatment

Dental Crowns Treatment

A dental crown typically involves two visits to the dentist. The first appointment will involve your Smile dentist:

  1. Examining the strength of your tooth to support a crown. Your Smile dentist may need to file down or fill your tooth so it can properly receive the crown
  2. Taking an impression of your tooth and the surrounding teeth. While this impression is sent to a dental lab, your Smile dentist may also create a temporary crown to protect your tooth in the meantime.

Once your permanent crown is ready, your Smile dentist can begin positing and fastening the permanent crown with a special adhesive.

Dental Crowns Procedure

Dental Crowns Procedure

Learn more about the procedure and cost of dental crowns.

Teeth Whitening Treatment and Procedure

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that helps to lighten teeth by removing stains and discolouration. All teeth whitening products contain peroxide as the active ingredient, either as carbamide peroxide (CP) or hydrogen peroxide (HP).

Over the counter whitening treatments can be dangerous and it may take months to see results. Professional in teeth whitening gives you faster and dramatically better results. This safe and proven method is great for patients who are looking to noticeably brighten their smile. Whether your teeth have lost their shine due to too many coffees or glasses of red wine, Smile dentists can offer in practice and take home whitening products to whiten your teeth safely with the fastest and best results possible.

Teeth Whitening Treatment

Teeth Whitening Treatment

Treatment for teeth whitening typically starts with a consultation with your Smile dentist where you can discuss your desired results.

Take-home products supervised by your dentist are the most popular teeth-whitening method. Here, a tray is custom made to hold the teeth whitening product directly against the teeth while minimising any contact with the gums. This form of treatment typically takes between 3 - 4 weeks.

Alternatively, there is also in-chair whitening. Your Smile dentist will first place either a rubber shield or gel on your gums prior to your whitening treatment. This protects your gums and other soft tissues from the effects of bleaching. They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth. Depending on the product used, this treatment can take between one to three hours.

Teeth Whitening Procedure

Teeth Whitening Procedure

Learn more about the procedure and cost of teeth whitening.

White Tooth Fillings Treatment and Procedure

Dental fillings are one of the most common dental treatments but patients are often self-conscious about their fillings being noticed when they smile, laugh and talk. White tooth fillings are used to eliminate this issue. Designed to match the colour of the natural tooth, these fillings help to restore the tooth while blending in as much as possible.

White Tooth Filling Treatment

White Tooth Filling Treatment

The procedure for white tooth fillings, also called composite fillings, can take longer than other types of fillings. This is because the tooth must be kept isolated from saliva after the decay is removed. Once the decay is removed, your Smile dentist will first apply an adhesive and then several thin layers of the tooth-coloured composite. The filling will then be chemically hardened, or cured, for less than a minute with a special light.

White Tooth Filling Procedure

White Tooth Filling Procedure

Learn more about the procedure and cost of white tooth fillings.

Dental Implant Treatment and Procedure

Dental implants are ideal for replacing missing or badly diseased teeth. Dental implants are a great alternative to dentures and are the most natural looking restoration option.

A dental implant is a screwlike anchor that is used as an artificial replacement for natural tooth roots. Made of materials that are compatible with the human body, such as titanium, implants have been used for decades in upper and lower jaws. By attaching to the jawbone and gum tissue, they provide a stable base for artificial replacement teeth, such as dental crowns, bridges and dentures.

Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or several teeth, or to support partial or full dentures. Implants and crowns remain inside the mouth and do not require any adhesives to hold them in place.

Dental Implant Treatment

Dental Implant Treatment

The procedure for dental implants can take several months from start to finish. It’s important to start with a consultation with a Smile dentist, so your dentist can determine that you are a good candidate for this treatment.

  1. Your Smile dentist will surgically insert the implant into your jaw before inserting a screw to prevent any debris from entering. It can take between 3 to 6 months for the implant to fuse with the jawbone.
  2. At your next appointment, an extension called a post will be attached to your implant. Once your gum tissue has healed around the post, both the implant and post will act as the foundation for your new tooth.
  3. Lastly, your Smile dentist will create a crown that will be attached to the implant post. Your dentist will make a crown that suits your natural teeth, considering factors like size, shape, and colour.

Dental Implant Procedure

Dental Implant Procedure

Learn more about the procedure and cost of dental implants.

Is Cosmetic Dental Work Covered By Insurance?

Some cosmetic dentistry treatments are covered by insurance. This will depend on your individual circumstances, which insurance provider you are with and the policy they offer. It is best to confirm with your insurance provider what your policy covers.

Smile assists both patients with and without insurance to save on all dental treatments at Smile dentists. You can read more about Smile member savings and benefits here.

Does Cosmetic Dentistry Hurt?

No, cosmetic dentistry does not involve painful surgeries. In fact, cosmetic dental procedures like teeth whitening and veneers are minimally invasive and don’t involve aggressive surgery. There may be some slight sensitivity following treatment, however this can be alleviated with proper oral hygiene management and if necessary, further help from your Smile dentist.

Many Smile dentists offer sedation dentistry in addition to local and topical anaesthetics. Sedation dentistry aids in minimising any discomfort that may arise from treatment and many anxious patients finds it helps them feel calm during the procedure.

Is Cosmetic Dentistry Safe?

Cosmetic dental treatment is absolutely safe when performed by registered and professional dentists. Smile practices undergo stringent quality assurance to ensure we are providing our members with an exceptional experience at the dentist.

Many people find themselves asking "Is teeth whitening safe?" Teeth whitening is a safe and effective treatment when managed under the supervision of registered and professional dentists.

Is Cosmetic Dentistry Necessary?

Cosmetic dental procedures are elective rather than necessary. However, in some cases, cosmetic dentistry can be performed for structural reasons as well. Cosmetic dentistry addresses aesthetic issues, such as the appearance of your teeth, gum, and smile.

How Long Is Recovery For Cosmetic Dentistry?

For most cosmetic dental treatments, patients can resume work and their normal activities shortly after treatment - often the same day. Patients who have received porcelain veneers, for example, often return to work the same day. If you have opted to receive sedation dentistry, you will need the rest of the day to recuperate and may need someone to drive you home following your appointment. For the week following your treatment, you may initially experience slight teeth sensitivity and want to avoid very hot or cold beverages and food.

Am I A Candidate For Cosmetic Dentistry Treatment?

Your Smile dentist will be able to examine your individual circumstances and determine whether or not you are an appropriate candidate for cosmetic dentistry treatment. Appropriate candidates generally:

  • Have good oral health
  • Are in good physical health
  • Want to improve their appearance
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Are aware of the procedure's outcome

This is only a partial list and your suitability will depend on your individual situation. Your Smile dentists are experts at determining which treatment is right for you to help you achieve your desired results.

What Are The Benefits Of Cosmetic Dentistry?

In addition to improved self-confidence, the main benefits of cosmetic dentistry include:

  • Improved appetite: if your teeth are misaligned, cracked, decayed, or missing, you may find it difficult or painful to eat. Once fixed, eating can once again be pain free and enjoyable
  • Headache relief: misaligned teeth can cause headaches, however, this pain can be alleviated with proper dental treatment
  • Prevention: certain cosmetic dental treatments, such as bonding, can strengthen the health of your teeth and help avoid future dental problems
  • Look younger: cosmetic dental issues, such as discolouration and dental erosion, can damage the tooth and make you look considerably older. Cosmetic dentistry can fix these issues and in turn, help you look younger
  • Perfect smile: cosmetic dentistry can correct aesthetic issues such as stains, cracks, and gaps. With proper treatment, you can finally have the smile you have always wanted.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Cosmetic Dentistry?

You may initially experience temporary symptoms such as swelling, tiredness, discomfort, and tooth sensitivity. Like normal teeth, porcelain veneers can chip. If this happens your dentist can simply repair the veneer. Teeth whitening and bonding will discolour over time. The effect of the treatments will be reduced if you frequently smoke or drink dark liquids, such as wine and coffee.

How Do I Avoid The Potential Risks Of Cosmetic Dentistry?

You can keep your smile bright by avoiding staining foods and drinks. To avoid any potential risks associated with your treatment, follow your dentist’s instructions regarding after care and maintain proper oral hygiene.

What Is The Difference Between Dental Bonding And Veneers?

While dental bonding achieves a similar goal to veneers, it is an entirely different process and treatment. The differences between bonding and veneers include:

Dental Veneers

  • Permanent
  • Custom-made in a dental laboratory outside a mouth
  • Lasts over 10 to 25 years

Dental Bonding

  • Reversible
  • Not made in a laboratory
  • Bonding is placed inside the mouth by the dentist, who then shapes it with a drill
  • Lasts 5 - 10 years
  • More often replaced than veneers
  • More prone to discolouration than veneers

For more information, see our articles on dental bonding and dental veneers.

How Can I Keep My Teeth Healthy?

You can maintain healthy oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. You can also keep your smile healthy year-round with regular visits to a Smile dentist.

How Can I Keep My Teeth White?

You can keep your smile bright and white by avoiding stain-causing foods and beverages, which may include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Soy sauce
  • Hard candy
  • All fruit but bananas
  • Tomato sauce

You should also follow good oral hygiene practices and visit a Smile dentist every six months for a general check-up and clean.

What Are The Alternatives To Cosmetic Dentistry?

As cosmetic dentistry procedures are elective, the alternative is to not have treatment.

There are numerous different cosmetic dentistry treatments available and each can correct many aesthetic concerns and help improve your smile.

For example, the closest alternative to porcelain veneers would be composite resin. Composite resin is a tooth-coloured filling material that can be used to correct the same aesthetic issues veneers. For a less permanent solution, dental bonding can help improve the appearance of chipped or misshaped teeth similar to dental veneers.

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