The first three parts of our “Is Your Dentist a Hitman” series all dealt with the function and health of your smile, but this last section is very different. We are still talking about a risk assessment, but in this case the “risk” is to your desire to smile with ease and pride. Don’t discount the importance of feeling you have a beautiful smile!

Smile Characteristics (Do You LOVE Your Smile?)

Is there anything about the appearance of your teeth that you would like to change? Many people can pinpoint specific things they do not like about their smile. which can be tooth shape, color, position, “gummy” smile, not showing enough teeth, showing too many teeth are examples. We actually can objectively evaluate all of these things with specific measurements to advice our patients on best treatment choices.

Have you ever whitened (bleached) your teeth? Whitening procedures have improved greatly over the years, and we can now be very successful in improving the color of teeth even for extremely dark teeth or “tetracycline” teeth safely and effectively. Most importantly, we also have developed systems to keep the new lighter color consistent over time.

Have you felt uncomfortable or self-conscious about the appearance of your teeth? It is incredible the number of people who smile for photographs with closed lips.  I can tell you that NONE of those people are confortable with their smiles! This is so unfortunate, especially given research into this topic stating the first thing most people notice about meeting a new person is their smile.

Have you ever been disappointed with the appearance of previous dental work? Years ago, the dental materials we had (specifically crowns and filling materials) were not particularly lifelike in appearance. In fact, many patients tell us they were never happy with the appearance of previous dental work because it didn’t look like an actual tooth or it stood out from the rest of the smile. We can now work with materials so lovely, it is common to not be able to tell which one is the crown and which one is the natural tooth!

I just had a consultation this week with a new patient considering dental esthetic treatment. She has been dissatisfied with the appearance of her smile for a long time , and we talked about how to improve this so she would have more confidence when dealing with her clients. Like many patients in her age range, she puts herself at the bottom of the to-do list while her family and work are always at the top, and recently she has begun to shift this focus. Our patients are often pleasantly surprised that the esthetic dentistry we recommend to improve the appearance of a smile also can improve the overall health and function of the teeth long-term, and that is the case for this patient as well. She is so beautiful, and before too long she will have a smile equally as beautiful as we get started on her transformation in the new year!

There is one more question we ask a patient when we are planning a smile enhancement, probably the most important question to ask:

Are we creating the smile you used to have or a smile you never had?

The most critical part of our treatment planning process is finding out what our patients want, and exceeding those expectations. Photographs are extremely helpful for this, and we ask our patients to bring in old photographs of themselves (if they want to return to how things used to look) or photos of smiles they love from media, friends, or family. We can then plan our esthetic dentistry carefully to suit the particular needs.

Now a personal story: those who know me well are aware I had a smile makeover! I always had a broad smile and showed a lot of teeth, the teeth were fairly straight and not overly dark. However, I had severe wear, I was born without one of my front teeth, and things were breaking down…I had a LOT of old, mis-matched dentistry in my mouth! Here’s my headshot from 2007:

This is Dr. Stevens, before her smile makeover. Photo cred: Howard Sandler Photography 2007

This is Dr. Stevens, before her smile makeover. Photo cred: Howard Sandler Photography 2007

This is Dr. Andrea Stevens in 2009, while undergoing orthodontic treatment (braces).

This is Dr. Andrea Stevens in 2009, while undergoing orthodontic treatment (braces).

In fact, when I look at that photo, I can’t believe my smile ever looked like that! I had orthodontic treatment to correct slight mis-alignments and open up the space where my tooth was missing and the space had been allowed to close when I was younger.

After braces, my friend and fantastic dentist improved my smile with crowns and veneers to strengthen my teeth, align my bite, and make them beautiful and natural. In fact, the first thing I said to her after she bonded in my dental work was “Now I have the smile I was always meant to have!”

Dr. Andrea Stevens After Smile Makeover! Photo cred: Miv Photography 2016. Orthodontics: Dr. Mark Luden. Dentistry: Dr. Danielle D’Aoust. Ceramics: Aurum Classic Dental Laboratory

I show all of this to say…the smile of your dreams IS possible. Each person differs in what treatment is best, but you deserve to have the smile YOU always wanted, and it would be our honour to help you get there!

 Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at drandreastevens.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer.