Say cheese! There’s nothing that instantly lifts your face – and your mood – quite like flashing a smile. But a recent study has shown that half of British adults are unhappy with their teeth, with imperfections like wonkiness or discolouration having a real impact on self-confidence.
In the past, achieving a perfect smile often meant getting veneers – a process that involves irreversibly shaving down the tooth’s enamel and attaching a porcelain sheet to the front of it.
While this still can be the most suitable option for some (a heavy tooth grinder, for example), it is, quite frankly, rather unfashionable nowadays, and can look unnatural. I’m sure a few celebrities’ smiles spring to mind.
Now there are subtle and sophisticated “tweakments” that can perfect your teeth in a natural-looking way, with minimal impact. These are the three Bs: braces, brightening and bonding.
“These days people want others to look at them and think, ‘Haven’t they got nice teeth?’ rather than ‘Where did you get your teeth done?’” says dentist Dr Teki Sowdani, whose "less is more" smile transformations using these three treatments have clients (including famous ones such as Lucy Mecklenburgh, Vicky Pattison and Courtney Black) queuing up for his north London clinic.
There’s also a cost saving to be made by going down this route. A mouthful of veneers can set you back upwards of £10k while, although still expensive, undergoing these smaller treatments are a cheaper option.
It’s worth noting that it’s not necessary to have all three of these steps, but if you are, they should be done in this order to ensure the best possible results.
I didn’t have any major dental problems but I could see that over the years (and no doubt noticed more in this era of Zoom) my teeth were becoming more crooked. Years of over-brushing had also worn the enamel down in places, leaving them looking patchy and with uncomfortable sensitivity. It was also a running joke about how awkwardly I smiled in photos and, with my wedding coming up, I just wanted nice-looking teeth. Here’s how my own smile transformation went…
STEP ONE: BRACES
Thankfully, this doesn’t have to mean revisiting the uncomfortable and unsightly “train tracks” of your teenage years. Nowadays there are a number of companies that make barely detectable clear braces as an alternative to metal wires – but the gold standard in discreet orthodontics is Invisalign.
First, a 3D scan is taken of your teeth, and from that a bespoke programme of clear aligners is created. You’ll need to wear these for 22 hours a day (this is crucial, so ensure you can commit), moving on to the next set every 7-14 days, with regular check-ups with your dentist along the way to check that everything is moving as it should. Invisalign treatment usually lasts between 6-12 months, and after that you’ll wear a retainer every night forever to maintain the results. You can opt to have a wire fixed to the back of your teeth to stop them from moving back.
My Invisalign journey was stress-free from start to finish. My treatment lasted about eight months, after which my teeth looked neater and more flattering. I found the aligners to be painless and barely noticeable, and I liked that my progress was monitored throughout by Teki. If it’s straight teeth without stress you’re after, I’d highly recommend Invisalign.
Cost : Approx. £1,500-£3,500, depending on how much work is needed*
STEP TWO: BRIGHTENING
Getting your teeth professionally whitened will give your face a youth boost, especially after keeping your teeth under wraps in retainers for months, when it’s common for them to look a little discoloured.
Professional whitening can be done in the dentist’s chair using a bleaching agent and laser, or using an at-home kit in which a peroxide gel is applied inside custom-fitted moulds and worn for a certain time, or overnight, for a number of days or weeks.
At-home whitening can temporarily cause increased sensitivity and I found this probably the most uncomfortable part of the whole process – but it definitely perked up my smile. If you too suffer with sensitivity, discuss the best way to manage this with your dentist beforehand.
Cost: Approx. £300, but many Invisalign packages will include this in the cost*
STEP THREE: BONDING
This means having a natural composite material bonded onto the teeth. It can be used to fill in chips or areas of worn enamel, and reshape the teeth into a more flattering appearance. This artistry is where the dentist’s skill really comes in, and is why Teki is so in demand, so pick your practitioner carefully – look at their work and check that it's a style that you like.
Composite bonding is painless and doesn’t change the natural tooth underneath, and so can be reversed if required. Done well and looked after properly, composite bonding will last 5-10 years.
I wanted my top front four teeth to look more uniform but was adamant that they still look natural. Luckily, Teki understood the assignment. I was in the chair for about an hour, and I walked out with my smile complete.
Cost: Approx. £200-£400 per tooth*
Overall, I’m thrilled with my results – I think my teeth now just look “better” without looking “done”. Having the composite bonding applied has also helped to reduce my tooth sensitivity – and I’m even smiling more naturally now in photos, too.
For more on Dr Teki Sowdani and to book into his Teeth by Teki clinic, click here.
*Prices vary from dentist to dentist.
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