What is beautiful, sexy, or hip, is always changing. Clothing styles change, body-type goals change, and how people want to look is always evolving.
Jason B. Cellars, D.D.S.
“As cosmetic dentists, our modern challenge is to create the ‘perfect smile’ without anyone being able to tell that it is not their original look.”
It is often an expression of the era we live in — when we used to live in an era of over-indulgence, our styles and cosmetic concerns were bigger than life and over the top. As we now live in a more holistic and minimalistic culture, our ideas of beauty have shifted to become more elegant and subtle.
Beauty in 2022 revolves around natural perfection, and whether that beauty is fully natural or not, it must appear so to be well received. As cosmetic dentists, our modern challenge is to create the “perfect smile” without anyone being able to tell that it is not their original look.
The right smile for you
Like your quirky favorite friend, you don’t want boring uniform teeth in a smile makeover; you want personality. It is the dental team’s mission to take the good characteristics of your smile, face, and personality, and accentuate them, while changing the unwanted aspects to better support the now accentuated features.
It is a holistic, total-person, approach that allows for the most natural results and most pleased patients. Every cosmetic dentist will have their own unique approach, but here is the approach that my team and I have found to give the best results:
Our first step is always understanding the patient. We invest enough time to get to know the patient’s personality, to get to know their unique personality and identity. Like picking out clothes for your friend or significant other, not everyone dresses the same or looks as good in the same clothes, so finding the personality of their style is the best first step.
We next want to listen to what the patient is dissatisfied about and what aspects of their smile and face they don’t like, and what aspects they do already like. It is no longer appropriate to use one stock shape and color of veneers on every patient. Instead, their current teeth and face need to act as a unique mold, as inspiration, and as a starting point for the end goal.
Often, we get our best information when our patient asks friends and family what they like about their smile. Those close to you can point out specific features in your smile that are technically imperfections, but are identifying and endearing for your individual personality.
We often see people with slightly larger canines or slightly rotated lateral incisors that add personality and charisma to their smile; when we see this, we will leave a slight rotation or a slight size deviation in the final result to maintain their unique charm. These slight tweaks are often too subtle to detect, but maintain the essence of their previous look when seen by friends and family.
A minimalist approach
Our second step to maintain the original feel of a patient’s smile is to maintain as much of the original structure as possible. When giving veneers to a patient, it is important to take away as little tooth structure as possible. This allows the color of the tooth underneath to give the veneer a hue of the original color and is healthier for the patient by keeping their bite and gums undisturbed.
We still want a bright smile when we are done but allowing the tooth underneath to show hints of its original color gives a much more natural look.
Our last step, which is often the most difficult, is to zoom out and look at the patient’s face as a whole instead of focusing just on the teeth and the smile. The patient’s teeth can usually be moved or made bigger or smaller depending on what is appropriate. Changing the teeth in this manner can give the patient fuller lips, a less gummy smile, make their chin protrude more or less, or change the size of the dimple under their lower lip.
The shape of the teeth can also be changed to make the smile soft, youthful, mature, or strong to match or change the characteristics that the patient already has in their face. Slight color can also be placed in the teeth that is not noticeable to the naked eye, but makes the skin more pale or less pale to brighten their face.
Depending on how the patient’s muscles work when they talk and move their mouth, the smile might also need to be broadened to give a fuller appearance. Like with all other aspects, this part is highly customized to the individual and what would look best with their face and personality, and what will align most with their cosmetic goals.
Cosmetic dentistry has changed from simply throwing in bright white stock veneers to a subtle artform. With modern technology, we have more options and more control over the final results. Taking a personalized approach to each individual, in our opinion, is the only way to truly get a naturally beautiful result. Like with everything, it is better to improve your beautifully unique identity than to substitute it for something that is not you.