What should a consumer look for when choosing a cosmetic dentist?
With most of the country having experienced a lockdown since mid-March, many have seen their smiles during virtual social and business settings and are looking for a way to improve them. Choosing a qualified cosmetic dentist can be a challenge. Here are some things that will help the decision process:
Since the ADA doesn’t recognize cosmetic dentistry as a specialty, there is no prerequisite education after dental school that qualifies someone as a cosmetic dentist. Experience matters. Asking how long the dentist has been performing cosmetic dentistry should be the first question in deciding which office to choose. Most successful cosmetic dentists have taken many continuing education hours from other experts in the field and have applied this knowledge in improving their skills.
#2. Ask to see their work.
Many experienced cosmetic dentists will allow you to see previous cases on their website or social media. These cases can also have interesting histories that showcase the patient’s chief complaint, the challenges that the dentist faced, and an explanation of how the great results were obtained.
#3. What cosmetic services are offered?
Cosmetic dentistry can involve the following procedures: teeth whitening (also called bleaching), bonding (applying a tooth-colored resin on the tooth), porcelain veneers (thin shell of porcelain are attached to the tooth surface), orthodontics (traditional or clear aligners), and gum reshaping. Be wary of a dentist that only provides a few of these services. Full mouth cosmetic procedures can have amazing results but usually involve costly and invasive procedures. Ask to see cosmetic dental makeovers that involve more conservative and less costly procedures. Sometimes the less invasive procedures are the best.
#4. Is the dentist up to date with the latest technology?
We are moving away from an analog world to a world of digital dentistry. The current state of technology allows the cosmetic dentist to plan the smile design before beginning the actual treatments. In-face visualization allows the patient to see a simulation of their new smile in their own full face before committing to treatment. Think of this as Photoshop on steroids. The patient can view side by side different smiles before beginning the process. Would you prefer longer front teeth, rounder canines, whiter teeth? These different options can be visualized in either 2 or 3 dimensions. In-face visualization works whether the ultimate treatment options are either or a combination of whitening, orthodontics, resin bonding, veneers, or even dental implants.
#5. Is the dentist using a high-quality ceramist?
If the final treatment involves porcelain crowns or veneers, then you can ask about the dental laboratory the office is planning on using. After a final design is discussed with the patient the cosmetic dentist will prepare the teeth for the porcelain restorations and take a digital scan to send to the laboratory. This is where science and technology are converted to art and beauty through the lab ceramist. A master ceramist takes years to build a level of skills that provide for a beautiful and natural result. Don’t be afraid to ask about the dental laboratory that is going to be involved in the process. In certain cases, a virtual interview with the ceramist can be requested.
Making the decision to have cosmetic dentistry should be a carefully thought out process. When you do your homework you will be confident in your investment and be happy with your results.