A Dental Procedure for Lip Enhancement?

Jessica Pullano and Kathleen Bowers

by Jessica Pullano and Kathleen Bowers | July 19, 2010 @ 02:00PM

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What would you say if we told you that you could have noticeably fuller, more beautiful lips without undergoing any painful cosmetic procedure? No needles, no incisions, no grafting, and... how about having your teeth made more attractive in the same simple step? This is not some kind of gimmick; it's a terrific new kind of procedure – lip enhancements performed by your dentist!

How does it work?
Dental lip enhancement procedures work on the same basic principal as many other cosmetic treatments. The structure underneath is enlarged in order to change the appearance of the surface. Teeth support the lips, so enlarging the teeth makes the lips appear fuller.

Think back to the first time you saw your grandfather (or someone else's grandfather) without his dentures in. His whole mouth seemed caved in and his lips were puckered and shrunken – right? Then when he put his dentures back in, did you see a remarkable difference? Dental lip enhancements work in much the same way, and can make a subtle or profound difference, depending on how much the teeth are changed. A well-trained dentist will be able to control the amount of enhancement to produce fuller, yet natural-looking, lips.

How is it done?
Dental lip enhancements can be performed in one of two ways: 1. Changing the shape of one's arch of teeth (or "bite") through orthodontics; 2. Changing the shape of the front teeth through restorative treatments, such as laminate veneers or porcelain crowns.

Orthodontic lip enhancement: Orthodontists use braces or special mouth appliances, such as removable or permanent retainers, to physically move teeth. Depending on your situation, the treatment can last months or even years, but this can result in fuller lips. And you won't be embarrassed to spread those lips into wide smiles because your teeth will look just as great! While there are certainly quicker routes to lip enhancement, if your teeth are crooked and your lips are thinner than you'd like, this may be the perfect treatment for you.

Restorative-treatment lip enhancement: Veneers and crowns can be used to more rapidly alter the appearance of the teeth and lips. Crowns (also known as caps) made of porcelain can be fit over the front teeth to produce a new surface over the whole tooth. Veneers are custom-made shells affixed to the front of the teeth. Both crowns and veneers require that some layers of the teeth be removed in order to make room for the thickness of the crown or veneer material. Otherwise, the tooth would look and feel too large.

Since crowns go completely around the tooth, whereas veneers are fitted to the front of a tooth only, they require that more of the tooth be removed. Veneers often only require a few layers of enamel be removed to make room for the laminate. For this reason, dentists often suggest getting veneers unless the tooth has severe decay damage. In some cases, a combination of crowns and veneers are used to get the best result.

Both crowns and veneers can make crooked teeth look straight, restore stained teeth to their natural white color, and provide better support to your lips. Whether you have naturally thin lips or your lips have thinned with age, these dental procedures can produce larger, fuller looking lips.

How long will it last?
When choosing a lip enhancement method, you'll want to keep in mind the fact that some procedures are semi-permanent, while others last only a very brief time. Orthodontic alteration of teeth is nearly permanent. Crowns and veneers last from five to twelve years, depending on a variety of factors. In most cases, they can be replaced if they break or wear down. In comparison, collagen-injection lip enhancement generally lasts for one to three months.

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