Cosmetic Dentistry |8 min read

Check Out Katie’s Conservative Smile Makeover [Before & After Photos]

"I never liked the spacing between my front teeth and how they looked small. Now I have no hesitation smiling with beautiful teeth that complement me!" - Katie, Real Arch Dental Patient

You know the saying, “Little things make a big difference”?

Well, that couldn’t be more true for today’s case study.

You’ll get to see how easy it was for Katie, a real patient, to improve her smile.

Best of all?

Her cosmetic dentistry treatments were quick, painless, and affordable.

Why Katie wanted a better smile

In her own words,

“I never liked the spacing between my front teeth and how they looked small.”

She felt that her old smile wasn’t what she wanted to show off to the world.

But she didn’t know her options.

You see, she liked her smile, but she wasn’t in love with it.

She wasn’t looking for an invasive or irreversible smile makeover, just a conservative way to improve her smile’s natural beauty.

So, she scheduled a complimentary consultation with our Fargo dentist, Dr. Derek Harnish.

The solution?

Based on Katie’s desired goal and budget, Dr. Harnish recommended:

  • Esthetic bonding: Hides smile imperfections by adding tooth-colored composite resin onto a tooth.
  • Gum contouring: Reshapes the gum line to alter the appearance of teeth’s length and remove gummy smiles.
  • Teeth whitening: Removes stains and discoloration and whitens teeth, making them look healthy, youthful, and attractive.

The result?

Here’s what each treatment accomplished:

  1. Esthetic bonding (also known as tooth bonding, dental bonding, or cosmetic bonding) closed gaps between her front teeth. It also made her teeth a more proportionate size in retrospect to her facial features.
  2. Gum contouring (also known as gum reshaping) made her teeth appear longer and gave symmetry along the gum line.
  3. Teeth whitening transformed her dull, old smile into a vibrant, memorable smile.

Do you know what all these treatments have in common?

They didn’t remove ANY healthy tooth structure!

This was an especially wise decision for someone as young as Katie to save healthy tooth enamel and structure for down the road.

Katie’s new smile after dental bonding, gum contouring, and whitening

Katie's before and after of Esthetic Bonding · Gum Contouring · Teeth Whitening

What does Katie have to say about her smile now?

“Now I have no hesitation smiling with beautiful teeth that complement me!”

Katie is a great example that sometimes you don’t need extensive dental work to achieve a better-looking smile.

Treatments like esthetic bonding, gum contouring, and teeth whitening will do the trick!

Plus, they’re generally pain-free, less expensive than veneers or orthodontics, and done in one appointment.

Want to learn more about Katie’s treatments?

Dr. Harnish answers the top FAQs below!

What you need to know about dental bonding, gum contouring, and whitening

These conservative treatments may be all you need to fall in love with your smile!

What is dental bonding?

Dental bonding is a cosmetic dentistry treatment used to fix almost any smile imperfection, including:

  • Gaps between teeth.
  • Chips and cracks.
  • Stains and discoloration.
  • Minor cavities.
  • Mishappen teeth.
  • Uneven or irregularly shaped or sized teeth.
  • Teeth that are too small.

How does dental bonding work?

Here’s a quick overview of esthetic bonding in Fargo, ND:

  • Dr. Harnish chooses a dental composite resin color that matches your tooth shade.
  • Your tooth’s surface is lightly etched, and a liquid agent is applied (this ensures the bonding material sticks and lasts).
  • The tooth-colored composite resin is carefully applied.
  • Dr. Harnish shapes the material to hide flaws, look natural, and achieve your desired result.
  • The material is hardened with an ultraviolet light.
  • Dr. Harnish polishes the tooth to blend in with your surrounding teeth.

Cosmetic bonding usually takes one appointment!

What are the pros vs. cons of dental bonding?


  • Only takes one appointment.
  • Procedure is painless (you may not even need an anesthetic for bonding or whitening!).
  • Lasts up to 10 years.
  • Looks and feels natural.
  • Hides most smile imperfections.
  • Less expensive than veneers.
  • Doesn’t remove tooth structure.


  • Doesn’t last as long as veneers or crowns.
  • Not as durable as veneers or crowns.
  • Not stain-resistant.
  • Subject to chips and breaks depending on use.

What is gum contouring?

Gum contouring reshapes your gum line to:

  • Remove excess gum tissue that gives off “gummy smiles.”
  • Make your teeth look longer.
  • Give you a symmetrical gum line.

How does gum contouring work?

Before your procedure, you’ll be numbed with a local anesthetic, so you’re comfortable and pain-free.

Then, your dentist will resculpt your gum line with a soft tissue laser or scalpel. If extensive work is needed, sutures may be used for healing.

Gum contouring usually takes one to two hours.

The benefits of gum contouring:

  • You’re done in one appointment.
  • Permanent results.
  • Doesn’t alter any tooth structure.
  • Can improve oral health.
  • Enhances your smile’s natural beauty.

What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is usually the easiest and most affordable way to improve your smile.

This treatment removes stains and discoloration and makes your teeth whiter and brighter.

There are a ton of different brands, but the two main types are:

  • Over-the-counter teeth whitening: What you buy at the store (like Target), has a weaker whitening solution, and requires multiple sessions.
  • Professional teeth whitening: Provided by a dentist (usually an in-office treatment or take-home trays), has a stronger whitening solution, and can be customized to your goal.

The benefits of professional teeth whitening:

  • Removes surface and intrinsic (deep) stains.
  • Longer-lasting results than over-the-counter.
  • Helps you look healthy, youthful, and attractive.
  • Creates a lasting first impression.
  • Minimizes the appearance of smile flaws.
  • Can whiten your smile up to 8 shades lighter in only one appointment.
  • Ability to minimize gum irritation and tooth sensitivity (common side effects of generic tooth whitening).

Are these procedures permanent?

Dental bonding is not permanent. On average, dental bonding will last 5 to 10 years. It’ll eventually need to be replaced or touched up due to wear and tear or discoloration.

Where the bonding is placed plays a large role in how long it’ll last. Generally, if it’s on a tooth used to bite or chew food, it’ll need replacing more often.

If this is the case for you, you can maximize its longevity by avoiding habits like chewing on ice, biting down hard, or using your teeth to open things like packages. Just remember, tooth bonding is not as strong as your natural teeth!

Another thing to keep in mind:

Bonding is not stain-resistant. If you smoke or drink dark beverages, such as coffee and wine, your bonding material will stain more quickly.

Gum contouring is permanent. You don’t have to worry about it ever again!

And lastly:

Teeth whitening is not permanent. To keep your smile white year-round, you’ll need to maintain it with in-office or at-home treatments.

How long your teeth whitening results last will depend on your habits like consuming stain-causing foods or drinks, oral hygiene, etc. It can vary between a few months and a few years.

But the good news is:

Professional teeth whitening is stronger and more effective than over-the-counter methods, so your results will last longer!

How much do they cost?

The costs vary a lot depending on where you live, the extent of work needed, materials used, etc.

To give you a baseline, here are the average costs in the United States:

To find out exactly how much any of these treatments will cost you at Arch Dental, schedule a complimentary consultation!

Are they covered by insurance?

Most dental insurance plans will not cover dental bonding, gum contouring, or teeth whitening because they’re considered cosmetic.

However, if you need dental bonding for preventative or restorative reasons, insurance may cover it.

To find out about your insurance coverage, call them for confirmation.

Are these services worth it?

Generally speaking:

Yes! Dental bonding, gum contouring, and teeth whitening are all worth it if you’re looking for an inexpensive, non-invasive, and quick way to improve your smile. Katie is proof!

But ultimately:

It’s up to you!

To know for certain, we recommend scheduling a consultation with a cosmetic dentist near you. Then, you can discuss your unique smile, goals, and weigh your different options.

Want Dr. Harnish’s professional opinion?

Contact Arch Dental for a complimentary consultation for cosmetic dentistry in Fargo, ND.

In only three easy steps, you’ll get Dr. Harnish’s expert opinion on how to improve your smile, and he’ll answer any questions or concerns you have.

Request a Consultation

Or you can:

Our office is located in Fargo, ND… opens in a new window to Google Maps… and serves surrounding communities, including Moorhead, West Fargo, Oakport, Dilworth, Horace, Sabin, Detroit Lakes, Lisbon, Bismarck, and Grand Forks.