Make Your Teeth Smile-Worthy!

Self-conscious about your teeth?

A survey by the American Dental Association found that a person's smile outranked eyes, hair and the body as the most important physical feature.

But keeping your pearly whites bright and straight can prove pricey so, as part of its special broadcast, "New Year, New You," "The Early Show Saturday Edition" asked Dr. Nancy Rosen, a New York dentist, to help viewers navigate the latest treatments and products - and give you something to smile about in the new year!

Having a beautiful smile may just help you on that job interview or give you enough confidence to stress less. In a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentists, 74 percent of the people responding said they believed an unattractive smile could hurt a person's chances for career success.

The AACD estimates the cosmetic dentistry industry (strictly cosmetic dentists - not dentists who perform a few cosmetic procedures) takes in $2.75 billion a year.

Rosen says a great smile is one of the first things people notice. People with great smiles have better self confidence, they feel better about themselves, she says.

Rosen pointed to the most common and best techniques to improve your smile:

WHITENING

People want to whiten their teeth because they want that white, bright smile. Our teeth can become discolored due to age, smoking, drinking and eating staining foods and liquids, such as red wine, coffee, tea, dark soda, berries and soy sauce.

The latest in-office treatment is the Zoom Advance, a 45 minute-to-an-hour treatment. It's the strongest in-office treatment out there. Average cost: $500-$1,200

Your dentist needs to decide if you're a good candidate. If you have gum disease or decay, those issues should be taken care of first. If you have crowns, veneers or fillings, the dentist will let you know that they will not bleach (whiten). Also, people should know that they may have some sensitivity during or for 24 hours after the treatment.

To keep your teeth white after sucha treatment, or in general, don't smoke, and limit staining foods and drinks. If you can, drink staining liquids through a straw. Try to use a whitening toothpaste, brush twice a day, and floss.

ENAMEL RE-CONTOURING

This is ideal for small chips, and to give a more pleasing smile. If one tooth is a little longer than the other, or if one tooth has some bumps on it, or if a tooth is pointy (like vampire teeth), those areas can be re-contoured to a softer, rounder, more pleasing look. There is no need for anesthesia. The dentist uses a sandpaper disc.

Cost: $50-$100 per tooth

This is a permanent procedure: Once the enamel is gone, it's gone.

BONDING

This is a great way to restore teeth that have decay. It can fix chips and broken teeth, and fill in gaps. It can be done in a single visit. Results are immediate.

Cost: $300-$600 per tooth

Bear in mind that bonding can stain, chip, and break, and it has a limited cosmetic life expectancy.

INVISALIGN

This is an invisible way of straightening your teeth. It uses a series of removable, clear aligners. They are custom-fit snap on trays computer-generated from models your dentist takes. Teeth move little-by-little, week-by-week, until they are in their final position. Proper oral hygiene is a must. These must be worn at least 22 hours a day. You don't eat or drink with them.

Cost: $4,000-$8,000

Unlike with other teeth-straightening treatments, there are no metal brackets or wires. This is invisible and removable, so it's easy to clean and floss your teeth. Most adults won't get the teeth straightened, because they don't want to walk around with metal wires or brackets in their mouths. Now, they can have straight teeth without such impediments.