My left and right lateral incisors are way too short. I am 37 yrs old, so there is no hope of a growth spurt. Can the incisors be moved down with braces or lengthened somehow? My dentist said he could lengthen my teeth with ceramic crowns, but is that the only solution? – Vivian
Vivian – An examination and diagnostic studies are required to determine why your lateral incisors are too short. The examination will reveal if your teeth have fully erupted and are correctly positioned. If they are, orthodontic treatment is probably not the answer.
What Are the Treatment Options for Short Lateral Incisors?
An artistic cosmetic dentist can examine and x-ray your lateral incisors to determine treatment options. A porcelain crown is an aggressive treatment that requires shaving down your natural tooth on all sides. Alternatives for lengthening lateral incisors are listed below.
- Gum contouring – Using a dental laser, a dentist can shorten your gums, contouring them around your incisors to help them look longer. This is a possibility only if gum contouring will not expose tooth roots.
- Cosmetic bonding – Skilled cosmetic dentists blend dental composite to match the color and translucence of your natural teeth. After cleaning and lighting etching each tooth, the dentist applies a bonding agent. Afterward, the cosmetic dentist will layer dental composite on each tooth and shape and harden the composite. Further shaping and polishing help the composite look natural. If you receive quality dental bonding, take care of it, and have it regularly maintained by a cosmetic dentist, it can last ten years or more.
- Porcelain veneers – Thin layers of porcelain can fit over the fronts of your lateral incisors. A cosmetic dentist may lightly save the teeth to prevent the porcelain veneers from looking bulky. Porcelain veneers will not stain. When well maintained by you and your dentist, they can last 15 to 20 years.
Whether you receive porcelain veneers or some other form of cosmetic dentistry, the quality, durability, and look of the restoration you receive depend on the skill of the cosmetic dentist you choose. We recommend finding two or three experienced cosmetic dentists with whom you can schedule consultations. Ask about each dentist’s training, credentials, and experience. Also, ask to see before-and-after photos of each dentist’s patient cases like yours.
Beverly Hills accredited fellow of cosmetic dentistry Dr. Brian LeSage sponsors this post.