So many people are confused about Cosmetic Dentistry.
Some hear the word "cosmetic" and alarm bells go off. They start thinking about phony looking results or invasive and expensive procedures like those performed with Plastic Surgery.
They automatically dismiss the idea of it.
There's so much hype and half-truths out there, it's hard for people to wade through all the noise.
Some Cosmetic Dentists can come across like the Great OZ – big and impressive. If you could peak behind the curtain and discover all the cosmetic dentistry secrets, you might learn that a beautiful smile is easier and closer than you ever imagined.
Cosmetic Dentistry: This is purely about the cosmetic component. This type of dentistry is focused on Smile Enhancement. A good example would be Teeth Whitening to improve the colour of your smile. Much of Cosmetic Dentistry is very non-invasive.
Aesthetic Dentistry: This involves performing any manner of Restorative Dentistry that also happens to look attractive. Much of modern dentistry tends to be aesthetic in nature, such as white fillings instead of the older silver-mercury ones.
Aesthetics is always a factor in restoring teeth, but not the only one. If you broke a front tooth, chances are you would want it built up again with something that looks just like a tooth. If you broke a back tooth, you might consider a less aesthetic material such as gold for its superior strength and durability.
Reconstructive Dentistry: This involves rebuilding severely broken down an missing teeth with implants, crowns, bridges and dentures. This isn’t a matter of simple repairs. Even though dental reconstruction might be partially be driven by cosmetic benefits, this level of care wouldn’t be considered Cosmetic Dentistry.
To feel comfortable in a big world, we have a tendency to humanize things. To understand smiles, you need to do the opposite – to structuralize what is one of your most intimately human features.
Most people only gather momentary impressions from smiles. They feel it as much as see it and only a glimse is needed.
To understand smiles, you have to strip away the impressions and look at how a smile is actually structured.
Here are two excellent models to represent your smile.
1. The Painting. Imagine a beautiful painting mounted on the wall. You have your frame, matting and the actual painted canvas. Your lips are the frame of your smile, the matting is your gums and the canvas is your teeth.
With this model it’s clear that the painting (teeth) becomes the center of attention.
The frame and matting accentuate and support the artwork.
2. The Stage Production. Imagine a big stage production at a theatre. You have curtains, backdrop and actors. Your lips are the curtains, the backdrop is your gums and the players on stage are your teeth.
With this model, you’ve got this full stage production with all these components. The challenge is to orchestrate them all together to make this dazzling show. Every component makes a difference and each must fill its role appropriately for the show to be a huge hit with the audience.
The teeth are the actors, and they're the main attraction and center of attention. Each tooth plays a contributing role in the overall production.
Some teeth have bigger roles to play. The two upper centrals play the lead roles. The upper cuspids play the supporting roles. The upper lateral incisors play the character roles. All the remaining teeth play the supporting cast.
This is a great model to help highlight the specific aesthetic roles for your upper front teeth.
The stage isn’t just a model for your smile - it’s a metaphor for your life.
Life is a stage and you decide how to play your role. For some reason, so many people get hung up on being natural. They think anything not totally natural is phony and approach everything with a low-energy casual.
Here’s some news, being just natural is boring and nobody is interested in boring. That level of casual is reserved only for relaxing off stage.
Theatre isn’t about being natural - it’s a highly-orchestrated presentation that gives the illusion of being graceful and totally natural.
Actors, comedians, entertainers – they all relax off stage. But when they’re onstage you see them act out with panache and gusto. The stage is not the place for ever taking a casual, low-energy approach.
The bright lights of the Entertainment World require devoted attention to beauty. Actors know that if they stepped up on stage without their makeup, they would look like zombies and disappear right into the background.
Same goes for smiles.
You can dismiss the theatrical value of having and revealing a beautiful smile, but doing so risks fading off into the background as a nameless face in the crowd.
How much stage time are you working into your life? Some people never want to step up under the bright lights in life. They drift along in casual mode.
Do you really want to live that small? Why not step up and live larger, even if for just a moment. You can always step back off stage to relax.
Imagine your day as one big stage production with you starring as the lead. Zoom right in on your smile and see that mini-production every time you smile. Even if you can’t orchestrate your day perfectly, it sure feels good knowing your smile will never fail you.
If your smile looks tired, why not dress it up the best you can? What’s the point of keeping such a positive asset hidden away behind the curtains?
Once enhanced, you’re ready to step up under the bright lights and reveal it to the world.
The All-Natural Purists would never consider altering their appearance - even whitening their teeth. Some wear their frumpy demeanor like a badge of honor. Their smiles can be so tightly reigned in, they almost forget how.
Frumpy is fine if you don’t mind being invisible. Everything can be taken too far. Some people go all Hollywood and some go to extremes in being All-Natural. There’s nothing wrong with a reasonable middle ground.
Your "Commitment to Beauty" isn't an On-Off switch where you have to choose it all or reject it all. It's a wider spectrum, with the Beauty-Obsessed way off to one side and the Anti-Beauty Purists way off on the other. Most people fall comfortably in the middle and can lean either way.
There's so much cultural pressure regarding beauty. You get pushed from both sides - from the pro-beauty marketing to the anti-beauty backlash. You can end up feeling so conflicted. Part of you wants a better smile. Part of you feels guilty for even considering the possibility.
Here in Canada, we’re caught between the extremes of British frumpiness, French laissez-faire, and brash American Hollywood.
It’s no wonder we get confused.
Celebrities draw lots of attention, and many entertainers juice up their smile to the max. That might look good for the cameras, but in person it can look rather extreme .
Give yourself some leeway. Beauty doesn't have to be so complicated.
Wouldn't you rather have a terrific smile than an ordinary one? No apologies needed. Having a better smile feels good.
Natural Enhanced can be a terrific look for your smile. Not scary natural like the Brits and not glowing in the dark like those over-the-top Hollywood Chiclets.
Don't worry, you'll be the exact same person. Taking a few steps to improve your smile doesn't mean you've gone all Hollywood or become addicted to beauty. You'll probably just smile more often and enjoy extra compliments about how great you look.
Here’s where you discover that the Great Oz is just a man turning some dials…
Cosmetic Dentistry isn’t voodoo magic or anything mysterious. It's surprisingly simple. Think way back to your Primary School subjects of Art and basic Math.
The Art part is just staying inside the lines and making all the yellowish stuff whiter. How simple is that?
As you get more into Smile Design there are some important principles that come into play such as Symmetry, Harmony and Dominance. Those just help us know where to draw the lines that we're supposed to stay inside of.
The Math is all about adding and subtracting. What we add and subtract is white stuff (teeth) and pink stuff (gums). The master’s touch is in knowing exactly where to add, and where to take away.
Remember in the painting and stage models how the gums were given less attention? People don’t really see the gums as they do the foreground teeth. For example, if the front teeth were partially covered by the gums, do you think anyone would see that as too much gums? No, they would always interpret that as the teeth being too short. They would be thinking about adding more white stuff when the right move is to take away some of the extra pink stuff.
Teeth totally dominate people's perspective. The trick is to look at your smile with the stage director’s eyes, not an audience’s eyes. The stage director see’s all the individual components and how they interact. The audience only sees the overall illusion.
Subtraction is easy – just take away from the teeth or gums with Cosmetic Contouring. ZIP, ZAP and the smile is transformed. The ZIP part is gently contouring the teeth with a dental drill. The ZAP part is gently contouring the gums with a laser.
Addition is a little more involved. Your teeth can be built up and reshaped with Bonding or Porcelain. The gums can be added with gum grafting or pink prosthetic materials.
All that might sound complicated, but once you see it with your own eyes, it’s like knowing the simple secrets behind a magician’s tricks.
Smiles can be transformed so quickly and easily that it really does seem like magic.
If it’s that easy, what makes it so special? Ever try playing piano or a violin? Those who can play make it look so easy. That’s the thing about mastery, the complex appears simple and the difficult appears easy.
With experience and mastery of Cosmetic Dentistry, we’re able to quickly see the potential for your smile. We see what’s working, what could be improved upon, and what steps are needed to get there. We’re able to see a clear path through all the clutter and confusion of choices. That's our role as trusted advisors.
Often Smile Enhancement involves a variety of the available options. Some smile transformations can take moments, some can take months and involve long complicated procedures. The expenses involved can also range from under $100 to well north of $40k.
The good news is that in most cases, Smile Enhancement is far easier and less expensive than people had imagined.
About the Author: Dr. Joe Bulger is a cosmetic dentist from Toronto, Canada and the owner-founder of Royal York Dental.
If you're looking for a cosmetic-oriented dentist, our team at Royal York Dental can help. We're open six days a week and can often offer same-day service. Fill out our contact form or CALL 416 231-0550. Download our free dental emergency guide.
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