As a cosmetic dentist in New York, I have been beautifying teeth and enhancing smiles for more than thirty years. From restoring the single front tooth that was broken in a mishap, to orchestrating a complete “cosmetic make-over” there are few things more gratifying than giving someone a beautiful smile and witnessing their face light up with joy as they look into the mirror for the first time.
Generally speaking, when people inquire about cosmetic dentistry they usually ask about bonding and of course, porcelain veneers. Bonding is a technique that revolutionized dentistry by allowing tooth-colored material (composite) to be applied to tooth structure without necessarily grinding one’s tooth down to a “nub.” Closing “unsightly” spaces between one’s teeth, changing the color and shape of a single tooth, or redesigning an entire smile in a single visit was made possible with the advent of bonding. As the years have passed, bonding techniques and materials have improved dramatically as have the cosmetic results.
The most exquisite application of bonding is porcelain veneers. Nothing compares to the beauty and elegance of these ultrathin porcelain facings. Veneers are custom-crafted by a ceramist and finished in a porcelain furnace where the vibrant luster and translucency of ceramic glass is created. Veneers can be quite delicate; that is, until they are bonded onto a tooth when they become quite strong (just don’t gnaw on bones or chew ice). Porcelain veneers are at the pinnacle of restorative cosmetic dentistry.
BUT, a beautiful tooth or teeth do not necessarily a beautiful smile make! There is so much that influences the beauty of a smile: balance and harmony (not withstanding color and shape) are the most important qualities to consider, while how teeth present themselves in the context of a person’s face and mouth is also critical.
7 Things A Cosmetic Dentist Must Consider When Designing Your Smile:
1. The Teeth Should Fit the Contours of Your Mouth: When teeth are too large they yield a very “toothy” appearance and also strain the lips when they are brought together. Similarly, lips that are too thin and small to drape over the teeth, make modifications in tooth size necessary. If teeth are too small one’s lips and facial contours will not have proper support yielding a more “collapsed” aged appearance.
2. The Spaces Between Teeth: Your teeth should be visible upon smiling and spaces should not leave a “gap tooth” appearance or dark shadows (wide buccal corridors) between the teeth and the cheeks. Ugly teeth aside, nothing detracts more from a smile, beside outright ugly teeth, than dark spaces between and around otherwise pearly whites.
3. The Amount of Gum Showing: An excessive display of gum or a “gummy” smile can stem from teeth being too small or can due to an over-abundance of gum tissue.
4. Harmony With the Shape Of Your Face: the midline of the front teeth should be aligned with the midline of your face, and the edges of the upper front teeth should follow the curve of the lower lip when smiling.
5. Harmony With The Size Of Your Face: The size and shape of your teeth should be in harmony with the size of the face allowing teeth to help support the upper and lower lips both in profile and frontal views.
6. Tooth Color and Your Complexion: The color and shade of your teeth should compliment the patient’s complexion.
7. Harmony With Your Other Teeth: Teeth should also be in harmony with each other – teeth should be proportionally sized (you know the expression buck teeth). Also, if teeth were previously treated, the restored teeth need to match or easily blend with the adjacent and opposing natural teeth in terms of size, texture, shape, and color.
There is much to consider when evaluating one’s smile and that analysis should be shared with the patient before any treatment is rendered. Excellent cosmetic dentistry is elective in nature and oftentimes is due to a want more than a need. As a cosmetic dentist, communicating with my patients ensures that the treatment I deliver is performed for them, not to them and that the final results meet or exceed everyone’s expectations.
If you are considering cosmetic dentistry, make sure your dentist addresses these important issues.