I remember the first time I met Anne. An attractive mid-50’s empty-nester, this new patient seemed shy and reserved during our initial consult. After her first exam and cleaning, she opened up about her longing for a more attractive smile.
Fast forward to a month later. New smile, new Anne. The once-shy Anne is now all-aglow! Her smile is joyful, full of life. She laughs easily and is at ease in her conversations with the staff. She has a new hairstyle, wears brighter clothes and looks fabulous!
The effects of a beautiful smile are far-reaching. People often experience improvement in their facial appearance, as anticipated, but many also enjoy added benefits of self-confidence, self-esteem, and outgoingness.
With these benefits also come actual boosts to overall health. Studies have found that smiling often can extend one’s lifespan by 7 years, on average. (One source is: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1265548/Smiling-add-years-life.html)
Additionally, people who smile often are happier people, in general. Researchers have found that the mere act of smiling triggers the release of endorphins. These are the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain. And, even a fake smile can activate this positive effect, causing a flow of endorphins even when the smile is forced.
In a 2012 article in Psychology Today, author Alex Korb, PhD states: “our smile is a powerful tool. Most people think that we smile because we feel happy, but it can go the other way as well: we feel happy because we smile.” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201208/smile-powerful-tool) He goes on to say “Your brain actually pays attention to what your body is doing, and it affects your emotions.”
However, like Anne, having a beautiful smile isn’t always a natural trait. Anne had teeth that had discolored with age and staining that comes from years of coffee, tea, and colas. She also had teeth that were too short and overlapped. Like many people, even some who had orthodontics (braces) in their youth, teeth can continue to shift in adult years without a retainer or bite guard worn at night.
Like most people who feel self-conscious about their smile, Anne’s decision to go forward was easy once she actually learned what was involved. Treatment was less involved and more affordable than she had anticipated. We find that many adults avoid or delay cosmetic dentistry because they suspect their needs are greater than what is truly necessary to recreate their smile.
For many, whitening natural teeth with our Zoom 2 one-hour whitening process is a first step. We then do precise shade matching to begin the process of creating individual porcelain veneers and crowns. For smile enhancement, these are often needed only on the top six or eight teeth, those most visible in a full smile.
Porcelain ‘restorations’ allow for correction of teeth that are mis-shapen, chipped, broken, crooked, or gapped. When each tooth has a balanced blend with adjacent teeth, the overall appearance of a smile is also a complement to facial features.
Although today’s cosmetic dentistry can dramatically improve the appearance of a smile, the skills and experience of the cosmetic dentist you select can greatly effect the outcome. In the hands of a dentist who has advanced training in the latest techniques, the look, feel, and longevity of your new smile will be an investment well made. However, as people have learned the hard way, choosing a dentist based on a discounted fee can reveal itself in the outcome.
I’ve seen “dental work” that looks like dental work. A highly-skilled cosmetic dentist can provide you with a look that is as natural as the teeth you should have been born with! I’ve seen people who have spent thousands on teeth that looked plastic or failed to provide an attractive result.
For people who desire having a gap between front teeth repaired, I’ve seen some who ended up with “bunny teeth;” teeth that were unnaturally wide and were obvious attempts to fill in a central space. I had one patient tell me, “I was less embarrassed to smile when I had the gap. This dentist left me looking silly.”
In our office, we look at the individual’s facial features in addition to their existing teeth and gums. In some smiles, the front four or six teeth may be all that need involvement in treatment while other people need the top eight or ten involved. Gum tissues may also require re-contouring so the smile line above teeth provides a balanced look.
We also integrate proper bite alignment into each treatment plan. When teeth are not in proper alignment, this can create stress and strain on the jaw joints. As a neuromuscular dentist, I’ve seen the repercussions that occur as a result of crowns that are too tall, too short, or angled improperly.
Even minute disparities can lead to frequent headaches, migraines, chipped or worn teeth, clenching, grinding, ear ringing or dizziness. By incorporating proper alignment techniques into treatment, you can avoid problems associated with TMJ disorders, which are often the result of a bite that is “off.” The added steps we take can help protect your investment and support your long-term oral health.
Having the very best smile for your facial features and your oral health requires many skills. When it comes to your smile, select your cosmetic dentist based upon training, skills, and experience for a smile you’ll love!