New Delhi: For young or old, a visit to a dentist was seen as a painful experience. Only bleeding gums and toothaches could push people towards dental clinics. Things have changed now as growing numbers in India, conscious of the way their teeth appear, frequent dentists to get whitening, correction or decoration jobs.
Ekta Chadha, smile designer at the Smile Studio, said: "There is a substantial growth in the number of people seeking better dental health as well as having better teeth presentation."
Usually celebrities would avail themselves of dental-related cosmetic treatment, but this is no more restricted to the glamour industry, says Shikha Giri, consultant prosthodontist and implantologist at the Seven Hills Hospital.
"We have people from all walks of life coming to us to have their smiles beautified. Corporate people, air hostesses, lawyers, doctors, and even housewives and teenagers are more than eager to improve their smile," Giri said.
The cost for dental cosmetic treatment starts from Rs.1,000 and can go up to Rs.150,000.
Tooth whitening and bleaching are among the most sought after treatments as smoking and caffeine are among the principal culprits.
"Bleaching per cycle costs around Rs.8,800. The duration depends on the frequency of intake of tea, coffee and the like, but roughly it ranges from one to two-and-a-half years," said Giri.
Rachana Doshi, aesthetic and cosmetic dentist, Bright Whites, Mumbai, suggested that people who consume coffee or tea frequently should opt for in-office whitening.
"In-office whitening usually has a better effect because of slightly higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide," Doshi said.
Ceramic veneers are recommended for a beautiful smile. A single veneer costs around Rs.8,000.
"It involves making thin ceramic shells customised for a patient`s tooth. These are cemented on to cracked, chipped or discoloured teeth, making for a perfect smile," Doshi said.
If flaunting a set of pearly white teeth is the cause for seeking treatment, people with small teeth or gummy smiles also visit dentists.
"Crown lengthening procedure is used to increase the size of teeth, in case they are too small or make for gummy smile. This procedure should be followed by full coverage crowns for longevity," said Giri. The treatment costs Rs.1,500 per tooth.
Many like to accessorise their teeth. Tooth jewellery is considered to be a "statement treatment" amongst college students and brides and is usually priced at Rs.1,000.
"It involves putting a white or coloured stone on one front tooth. It is quite a statement treatment amongst collegians and brides. There is no drilling or cutting of the tooth whatsoever. The stone is simply cemented on to the tooth," said Doshi.
If youngsters are saddled with braces, it spoils their looks. But thanks to advancements, braces have evolved and there is the option of invisible braces.
"They are a form of orthodontic treatment in which the braces are hidden from view or made less visible. They come in the form of lingual orthodontics, or ceramic tooth coloured braces," said Shetty.
The alternative is expensive - generally costing about Rs.1.5 lakh.
Customised lingual braces are costlier and the "only hitch is that people find it difficult to talk because the tip of the tongue touches the back of the teeth," Chadha added.
This trend is seeing an upsurge not just in the metros but even in tier-II and tier-III cities.
Sahith Kumar Shetty, consultant maxillofacial surgeon at Mysore`s Columbia Asia Hospital, said patients come for treatment related to the beautification of teeth.
He said most of them are women, but some men are also showing interest.
"These procedures are higher during weddings. Dental corrections are often combined with other wedding preparations for both the bride and the groom," he added.