“Cosmetic Dentistry” Should Restore More Than Just a Smile

People are often surprised when I tell them that making dentures is the best training for cosmetic dentistry. In order to do a great denture a wide range of issues in both understanding and execution must be mastered. The edges of the upper front teeth must be placed very precisely in order to look natural. The gumline must be placed so as not to display too much or too little. The tooth size should not be too big or too small. The teeth must fill the frame of the smile without overextending into the corners of the mouth too far. The teeth need a balance between a generalized evenness and some localized irregularities in order to avoid an artificial look. The whole arch must be level in the head with the teeth vertical and centered around the midline. And that’s just the upper arch. When we add the lower teeth things really get interesting. Patients need to be able to speak clearly, chew well, and have comfortable joints. All of this must be figured out without any existing teeth as guides and often the patient’s shrinking jawbone further complicates determining where the teeth should be placed.

This same mastery is just as critical for the cosmetic aspects of all restorative dentistry including dental implants, crowns, porcelain veneers, bonding, bridges, and sometimes even teeth whitening. A dentist who masters these many challenges successfully can produce a cosmetically beautiful smile that is also natural looking, healthy, long lasting, functional, and comfortable. Patients should never be satisfied with just a smile makeover when modern dentistry offers them so much more.