Nineteen-year-old Kriti Khandpal, a second year B Com student, who recently got her teeth whitened, is floored with the kind of attention she is getting these days.
"My classmates and friends noticed my whiter teeth instantly. Being a coffee lover, I would gulp down five to six mugs in a day and that's what resulted in my teeth getting paler over a period of time. In school, people would tease me by asking if I had forgotten to brush my teeth," she says.Dental care has come a long way. With the mind-boggling array of cosmetic dental procedures available these days, a visit to a dentist is no longer limited to getting braces.
Prostheodontics or cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening, reshaping, restoring and replacing are now more common than ever, despite the costs running up to several lakhs.
And a majority of those who aspire for picture-perfect teeth are college-goers and young professionals who are willing to splurge on cosmetic procedures.
"Nearly 50% of my OPD population enquiring about cosmetic dental procedures comprise students who are 15 years or older, and they force their parents to pay up. The earlier generation wasn't that conscious but the present generation is very much so," said Dr Ajay Sharma, a dental physician with Max Hospital.
On an average, Dr Sharma sees about 15 youngsters in a day in one OPD, who want to change their teeth's appearance.
"We eat more sticky food and less of fibrous items these days causing permanent damage to the teeth. Add smoking, excessive tea or coffee consumption to it and you get stubborn stains that are hard to remove at home," says Dr Mahesh Verma, principal, Delhi governmentrun Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences.
Till a few years ago, teethwhitening - which involves bleaching using chemicals, mild acids or even lasers - was done to reduce discoloration and staining. But now patients opt for it to make teeth whiter than even the original shade.
In fact, smile-designing as the procedures are collectively called, is popular during the wedding season, with both brides and grooms thronging dentists.
"November and December are usually the peak months when couples come to us for cosmetic procedures. Many have even suggested that we create a comprehensive pre-bridal cosmetic dentistry package. We evaluate their dental structure and as per the requirement perform the procedures such as bridging the gaps between teeth, crowning, reconstructing jaw line etc.," says Dr Sharma. The start of academic session at colleges is yet another busy period of the year, say dentists.
Nevertheless, dentists insist the procedures are safe. Most of them are done under local anesthesia, where the person is discharged the same day, they say. "A few surgeries may require hospitalisation. However, all procedures are safe," added Dr Sharma.