OUR GUIDE TO COSMETIC DENTISTRY
Cosmetic Dentistry:A Guide to the Perfect Smile
A quick Google search reveals that there are a lot of opinions out there about what constitutes a perfect smile. Why are there so many different definitions? That’s mostly because a smile that’s perfect for one person may be completely out of place on another. In other words, a perfect smile is as unique as the person that it belongs to, so achieving the perfect smile requires personalized attention, an overall understanding of facial and dental aesthetics and the ability to design or create it. Indeed, through cosmetic dentistry and a complete smile makeover, anyone can achieve a perfect smile.
What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
Put simply, cosmetic dentistry involves making positive changes to a person’s teeth and smile to achieve a more attractive appearance. For many years, cosmetic dentistry strictly involved replacing and restoring teeth. Things have changed significantly in recent years, though, and the practice now includes a vast array of cosmetic procedures. More importantly, cosmetic dentistry is no longer strictly concerned with the appearance of the teeth and smile. Rather, it more commonly involves making improvements and changes to the teeth and smile to enhance other aspects of the face. As incredible as it may sound, cosmetic dentistry can be used as a safe, fast, non-invasive alternative to face-lifts and other procedures that are designed to make people look younger and more attractive.
Cosmetic dentistry encompasses a wide range of procedures, including teeth whitening, veneers, crowns, bridges and implants. The procedures themselves are of critical importance, of course, but the most important factor of all is the vision and creativity of the team who is performing the work. All of the best technologies in the world can’t take the place of a highly skilled, experienced and talented cosmetic dentist/surgeon/ceramist team. Unlike regular dentists, cosmetic dentists are more like artists. They’re concerned about overall dental and oral health, of course, but top-notch cosmetic dentistry requires a skilled touch and an innate understanding of what constitutes a perfect smile.
What is a Perfect Smile?
If there was a single, standard definition of what constitutes a perfect smile, it would be a lot easier to achieve. However, a perfect smile is unique to a specific person’s face. Even so, a lot of research has been done of late about the science behind the perfect smile. This is one of the many ways in which cosmetic dentists have been honing their craft: Understanding the crucial role that symmetry plays in achieving the perfect smile.
On the perfect smile, there is harmony between the smile, facial form and the psycho-social aspects of each patient. Funnily enough, having perfectly symmetrical teeth isn’t the answer. They may be symmetrical in your mouth, but they may clash with the asymmetrical nature of your other facial features. To this end, skilled cosmetic dentists strive to achieve an aesthetically pleasing balance when crafting the perfect smile.
It should come as no surprise that a great deal of analysis has been done regarding what makes a smile attractive. The size and shape of the lips, gums, teeth and face all come into play. On the perfect smile, attractive ratios are of the utmost importance. The width of the smile should be at least half the width of the face; anything narrower won’t strike the right balance. The upper and lower lips should be symmetrical on either side of the midline of the face. The top teeth should be dominant, and a small portion of the bottom teeth should show. All of the visible teeth should, of course, be straight. As far as coloring goes, a bright, white smile is great, but it’s crucial not to take things too far. After all, the perfect smile looks completely natural. Speaking of coloring, the gums should be pink, which is how healthy gums look naturally.
Roadblocks to a Perfect Smile
It’s amazing how even a seemingly minor issue can dramatically impact the appearance of a smile. People turn to cosmetic dentistry to achieve perfect smiles for a number of reasons. What kinds of things are coming between you and the perfect smile? The following issues can all be to blame:
- Discoloration—Stains and other discolorations can wreak havoc on an otherwise beautiful smile. While teeth whitening is certainly always an option, it often won’t get you to where you want to be. Most people have other imperfections to correct too, so veneers are a more complete solution.
- Spacing—On a perfect smile, teeth are evenly spaced. They’re not too far apart, which causes gaps, and they’re not too close together, which can cause crowding, overlapping and other unattractive issues. While veneers can’t do much for teeth that are too close together, they can close gaps and quickly and easily help you achieve the perfect smile.
- Chips, Cracks and Other Damage—Chipped, cracked or otherwise damaged teeth distract from the overall appearance of a smile. That’s true even if they are quite small. Fortunately, porcelain veneers can instantly “wipe away” such imperfections to quickly help you achieve a stunning, perfect smile.
- Unevenness—When some teeth are longer or shorter than others, a smile is going to be less than perfect. Such anomalies are visually distracting. Even if the rest of the teeth look great, unevenness always prevents a perfect smile.
- Most importantly, the teeth may not be in the optimal position to enhance facial form. These factors combined can create balance and harmony if the details are respected.
Interestingly enough, the teeth aren’t all that contribute to achieving a perfect smile. If the lips tend to droop inwards, for instance, the appearance of the smile can be negatively impacted. With the right cosmetic dentistry and the expert use of veneers, however, the teeth can be made to push the lips outward more so they look fuller and more youthful. It’s easy to overlook how the teeth affect the rest of the face, but they certainly do, and cosmetic dentistry can be used to enhance the teeth in a way that also enhances the rest of the lower third of the face.
What is a Smile Makeover?
A smile makeover is a process of changing the position and/or look of the teeth to properly support the lower third of the face. In many ways, it’s like a face-lift from the nose down that doesn’t involve the use of scalpels or other invasive tools or techniques. In general, a complete smile makeover can be achieved in just seven to 10 days. Only two normal visits are typically required, but a few short follow-up visits are needed as well.
A smile makeover can be used to correct the most common issues that come between a person and a perfect smile. Whether you’re dealing with chips, cracks, discoloration, unevenness, gaps or other issues, odds are that you are an ideal candidate for a smile makeover. Ultra-thin porcelain veneers are most commonly used. They’re usually about half a millimeter thick and are bonded directly over the natural teeth. The natural teeth typically only require minimal amounts of preparation; in some cases, no preparation is needed at all.
So, what can you expect if you opt for a smile makeover? First, you’ll sit down for an initial consultation with your cosmetic dentist, who will assess your teeth and provide feedback about how your teeth and smile can be improved. Visual aids using digital photography, Digital Smile Design, before and after’s, and possibly a direct mock up over your own teeth will be done to try to give you as much information as possible. Digital x-rays as well as a functional evaluation will be done to give the patients a full understanding of what is going on in their mouth. Various factors will determine how your new smile will look, including tooth size, tooth shape, tooth color, the light refractive qualities of your teeth, your age and your skin tone.
You’ll be sent home with temporary veneers so you can give your new smile a spin. Meanwhile, the cosmetic dentist or ceramist will create permanent veneers that will be strategically designed to correct the flaws that are coming between you and a perfect smile. During your next visit, your permanent veneers will be fitted over your natural teeth. After a few days, you will return to have your veneers contoured and otherwise adjusted to ensure that your perfect smile looks perfectly natural.
Procedures Used to Create the Perfect Smile
Cosmetic dentists have many options at their disposal for creating the perfect smile. Depending on what the issues are at hand, options like veneers, crowns, implants, periodontal surgery or orthodontics may be in order. After all, veneers can’t correct a missing tooth, and some teeth may have very minor stains that can be easily corrected through dentist-provided teeth whitening.
Which of these procedures is right for you? The only way to find out for sure is by sitting down with an experienced cosmetic dentist. No two smiles are alike, and there’s no single definition for a perfect smile.
Cosmetic Dentistry: A Cosmetic Dentist’s
Point of View
“As a cosmetic dentist, I have an in-depth, hands-on understanding of what cosmetic dentistry is all about. To me, the most compelling thing about cosmetic dentistry is its ability to not only improve the appearance of a person’s smile but to improve their overall quality of life. When you really think about it, your smile has a major impact on your daily interactions with others. That’s true professionally and personally. When you’re self-conscious about the appearance of your teeth, you’re less likely to crack a big, natural, authentic smile. In turn, you may give off the impression of being unfriendly or unapproachable.”
“Until you have flaws or other issues with your teeth or smile, it’s virtually impossible to understand how damaging such problems can be in terms of self-confidence and self-esteem. There’s no easy way to hide a less-than-perfect smile. Even if you avoid smiling at all costs, you’ll be aware of the appearance of your face, teeth and smile wherever you go and whatever you do. Holding your hand over your mouth only draws more attention to the area, and it can make you feel even more self-conscious and unhappy.”
“Every day, I meet people whose lives are being negatively impacted due to less-than-perfect smiles. Many times, they admit to feeling vain for being so concerned about how their teeth look. I immediately reassure them that they are anything but vain. As I’ve stated, a less-than-perfect smile has far-reaching implications. It could easily prevent you from advancing in your career or from finding your soul mate. Consciously or unconsciously, people form opinions about you based on the way your smile looks. Through cosmetic dentistry, which I consider to be a form of art, your smile can be improved and corrected until it is, indeed, perfect. Going forward, life is sure to be happier, easier and more enjoyable. To me, then, cosmetic dentistry is an effective, easy way to dramatically improve self-esteem, self-confidence and life in general.”