Your Time to Shine: Dental Procedures that Transform your Smile

There are many things in life you have no control over—the weather, your taxes, genetics. Your smile, though, can be changed for the better. We ask local cosmetic dentists about the benefits of Invisalign, Lumineers, dental bonding, teeth whitening, and other procedures that can dramatically change your smile.


Veneers can change almost everything about a person’s smile. Crooked teeth? Veneers can make teeth appear straight. Spaces between teeth? Veneers can close the gaps. Stained or discolored teeth? Veneers can make even the darkest teeth appear bright white. Long teeth can be made to look shorter; short teeth can be made to look longer. Veneers have the power to dramatically change a person’s smile in just a few visits.

The procedure is so popular in Hollywood, celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Halle Berry, and Heidi Klum smile a little bigger thanks to the magic
of veneers.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, “Porcelain laminate veneers consist of a compilation of several thin ceramic layers which replace original tooth enamel, and an adhesive layer. To apply a veneer, a very small amount of the original tooth enamel must be removed, usually less than a millimeter. This is essential as it creates room for the porcelain veneer to fit within the mouth and most accurately restore natural tooth function while creating an even better appearance than the original tooth.”

Since veneers are individually sculpted for each patient, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a veneer and a natural tooth. Unlike natural teeth, custom-made veneers resist coffee and tea stains, as well as cigarette smoke because they are made of high-tech materials.

Maintaining porcelain veneers is actually quite simple: Treat them as you would your original teeth, with routine brushing and flossing. With the right care, they can last up to 20 years or more.

One type of veneer—Lumineers—is growing in popularity in offices across the country.

“Lumineers are a special type of veneer made of the strongest porcelain available,” explains Dr. Drew Spencer of Edina 5-0 Dental. “They are highly durable, wear-resistant, and translucent—just like natural teeth. My patients love them because they can usually be made as thin as a contact lens, allowing placement without significant removal of enamel or dentin.”

With Lumineers, there are no shots and no drilling, and a smile can be transformed in as little as two visits. On the first visit a mold is taken; on the next visit the Lumineers are checked for fit and shade.

Visiting an AACD member dentist and asking about veneers is the first step in determining if veneers are the right option for you, or if there are alternate solutions available.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a procedure in which a dentist adheres a tooth-colored resin material directly to the tooth to modify the shape, color, or contour, blending naturally and seamlessly with the patient’s existing teeth. A laser (or high intensity light) is then used to cure the composite material, hardening and reinforcing it to the surface of the tooth. There is a relatively low cost per tooth when compared with porcelain veneers, which are fabricated in a laboratory and require more procedural work. The advantages to porcelain veneers over bonding is that veneers are much longer lasting (and stronger) than composite bonding material, requiring less repair.

“Direct composite resin bonding is most commonly used to augment a missing tooth structure, such as a chipped  tooth, or to fill spaces between teeth,” explains Dr. Nancy Norling, a skilled cosmetic dentist based in Minneapolis. Fees can range from $365 to $1,000.


If you have ever self-consciously covered your smile while you were laughing or smiled without showing your crooked or overcrowded teeth, you could be the perfect candidate for Invisalign, an alternative to braces that can straighten your teeth without giving you “metal mouth.”

Basically, Invisalign is an invisible way to straighten teeth using a series of custom-made, nearly undetectable aligners. And it’s been proven effective in both clinical research and in practices nationwide.

After being fitted at your dentist, you wear a series of clear, plastic trays or aligners that can be removed (you can eat what you want)—trays or aligners that are largely invisible when in place. Typically, the cost ranges from $2800-4800 and the length of treatment varies, since every mouth is different.

Teeth Whitening

There are a lot of different ways to whiten your teeth—with over-the-counter whitening products, with home-made whiteners (baking soda, anyone?), or—the most effective way—at the dentist’s office. A laser light can activate a specially formulated gel to treat deeply-rooted discoloration, or your dentist can use a hydrogen peroxide solution.

“In-office treatments are fast, but they are usually more expensive because you are paying for convenience and chair time,” says Dr. Stacy Roszkowski of Lifelong Dental Care. “And more often than not, the in-office option will also include a set of trays for at-home maintenance afterwards, but be sure to ask.” At-home maintenance is important, she says, because even teeth that have been whitened can develop stains again from coffee, tea, cola, and red wine.

Choose a Qualified Dentist

It is important that you choose a qualified and experienced cosmetic dentist. If there are any complications during a procedure, an experienced dentist will be more adept at handling the situation. In addition, a cosmetic dentist who has performed many complicated dental procedures will have had more time to perfect his or her technique and results. Aesthetic dental treatments like dental veneers and bonding require an artistic touch to produce the most attractive and natural-looking results. According to, the following guidelines can help you find a qualified cosmetic dentist:

  • Look for a dentist who has received accreditation from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). This accreditation is an indication that the dentist has received specialized training.
  • Try to find a dentist who has made aesthetic dental treatments a prominent feature of his or her practice.
  • After finding a prospective dentist, learn about his or her qualifications and experience by requesting this information directly or visiting the website.
  • To get an idea of the results you can expect from your treatment, ask for before and after pictures of previous patients.

10 Tips for Healthy, White Teeth

  • Make regular appointments with your dentist every 6 months to have your teeth cleaned.  
  • Teeth are porous and can soak up stains like a sponge, after drinking coffee, tea, or red wine, or eating soy sauce, berries, or curry, drink a glass of water to help wash away stains before they set in.
  • Fibrous foods like apples, celery, carrots, spinach, broccoli and lettuce actually work to remove stains by exfoliating teeth before the stain molecules have time to set into the teeth’s molecules.
  • Try naturally whitening your teeth by eating strawberries, rubbing the inside of an orange peel on your teeth, or mixing lemon juice and salt. 
  • Drink through a straw when possible.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Brush with baking soda at least once a week.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies. Make huge salads. Avoid fast food and processed food as much as possible. Avoid constant snacking. All of this will help give you brighter, whiter teeth with fewer cavities.
  • Invest in an electronic toothbrush, such as Sonicare.  
  • Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the morning and brush as usual. The vinegar helps help remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums.

Resource Guide

Edina 5-0 Dental
3948 West 50th St., Suite 205
Edina, MN 55424

Lifelong Dental
1525 Livingston Ave.
West Saint Paul, MN 55118

Nancy Norling, DDS
1660 S. Highway 100, Suite 122
Minneapolis, MN 55416