Nowadays, cosmetic dentistry is more popular than ever.
From shaping and closing spaces to porcelain veneers and whitening, it seems everyone wants to improve their smile. Some popular TV shows illustrate the huge transformations that can take place when a person goes through a “makeover” and a large part of the before and after difference is due to the changes in the person’s’ teeth and smile.
And while one only needs to flip open the phone book or go online to find a plethora of cosmetic dentists at their fingertips, scouting out ‘the one’ can be overwhelming and intimidating process for many.
I have had some patients come to me after having spent a considerable amount of money to fix their teeth and smile only to end up with less than ideal or satisfactory results. That can be very frustrating as well as an expensive “waste” of money. So how do you find someone you can trust and be confident that they will be able to meet your expectations and provide quality dental care that will last?
Here are 6 things you should keep in mind when selecting a cosmetic dentist who will turn your smile from drab to fab. Ready, set, smile.
1. Find Someone Who Understands What Makes a Smile Beautiful
The first step in finding someone who will turn that frown upside down is to track down an expert who understands just how important a smile can be and what is needed to improve your smile. In my opinion the most beautiful smiles are the ones that look so natural the person is complimented on how lucky they are to be born with such beautiful teeth.
Of course having the teeth (relatively) straight and fairly white are some basic elements but there is a lot more to it than that. The size and length of the teeth are also important and the ideal size will vary from person to person. The teeth should have symmetry with themselves and the rest of the face. The upper teeth typically follow the lower lip line and fill the sides of the mouth as you look towards the back teeth. Gum symmetry is also very important especially for people who have a high smile line and show their gum tissue when they smile. Our bodies , including our teeth are not mirror image symmetrical, however having the teeth and gums relatively balanced from one side to another is important.
If you take a look at some photos of smiles that you like and feel are beautiful, I think you will see a lot of the elements that I have described above. It is by no means a complete list but the dentist you are consulting with should be aware of these and take these things into consideration.
In my opinion they should also first consider the most conservative approach or treatment, especially if it will deliver your desired end results. Some of the various treatments that can improve your smile are: whitening procedures (e.g. Zoom in office whitening), contouring, bonding, porcelain veneers and no preparation veneers (e.g. Lumineers) as well as orthodontics. Since no smile is alike, it’s important your prospective cosmetic dentist offers a plethora of solutions to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.
2. Do a Little Digging
Word of mouth – quite literally – is another important factor to take into consideration when choosing the right cosmetic dentist for you.
Most dentists would be very willing and happy to show you their before and after photos. Also ask if they have any photos of the cases years later. If their before and after photos from past patients aren’t available online, ask to see a portfolio when you are in the office. In some cases, they may even allow you the opportunity to speak directly with past patients or to read their testimonials. If there’s nothing to see, you might want to think twice about utilizing their services.
3. Cosmetic Dental Credentials are Key
Keep in mind that even if their website boasts beautiful before and after photos or your neighbour gave him or her a raving review, always remember to check the prospective cosmetic dentist’s qualifications.
Most highly qualified cosmetic dentists belong to a professional cosmetic association such as the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry or the Canadian Dental Association. They most likely will have additional cosmetic training beyond basic dental school. To find out, a quick Google search might provide you with the answers you’re looking for. Alternatively, you could simply ask the dental receptionist or dentist.
And with dentistry continually evolving and advancing, you’ll also want to look for a cosmetic dentist who keeps abreast of leading technology by taking continuing education courses in their field.
4. An Understanding of Chewing Function (Occlusion)
A stable occlusion (chewing function) is required for long-lasting health, function and durability of your teeth and dental work. Some esthetic changes to your mouth via cosmetic dentistry can affect your overall occlusion (chewing function). If this is not taken into account you may find that you end up breaking or damaging your new dental work or even some of your other teeth.
5. The Comfort Factor
Finding the right cosmetic dentist for you is important. You should search for someone you trust, who listens to your concerns and develops a treatment plan that you’re comfortable with. Ask yourself, do you feel comfortable telling this person your concerns, long-term goals and wishes? Does this person not only listen to you but is able to address your concerns? If not then maybe it is time to reconsider before you venture forward.
6. Trust Your Gut
Once you’ve checked their credentials, reputation and experience, there is just one last determining factor – your gut.
As previously noted (see 5), the right dentist can help reassure you and calm any fears you might have about dental procedures. Simply take the time to do your research and make a wise decision when you are ready.
With these 6 tips in mind, you can start your search for a reputable cosmetic dentist in your area. Remember, take the time to make a more educated decision– even if it means meeting more than one expert in the field. I always tell my patients that making a decision to proceed with cosmetic dental work is a big decision for most of us. And typically with big decisions we look at options… we often get more than one quote….in the case of dentistry it may mean going for more than one consultation. I encourage my patients to seek a second opinion especially if they have any hesitation about the treatment plan. costs etc. Your happiness, confidence and the health of your teeth and gums depend on it!