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If there was a competition for the most overused word or phrase in dentistry, then "smile design" would definitely be near the top. It is frequently used to denote any sort of procedure that improves the aesthetics of the patient. While a simple crown, veneer or even orthodontic treatment may, in fact, improve the appearance of the smile, it is not smile designing per say.
What Is Smile Designing Treatment?
This is a relatively new philosophy that has become increasingly popular all over the world. The goal here is to provide a functional replacement with an emphasis on aesthetics, harmony, facial analysis, smile and the gingival architecture.
The difference in results may appear to be small to the untrained eye, however, it makes a big impact on the overall success of the treatment. Software is available from different companies allows for a digital mock-up to give the patient an idea of what to expect from the final outcome.
This is a wonderful tool for both practitioners and patients alike. The patient has a realistic expectation of the final outcome while the practitioner has the luxury to tweak a few things according to the patient’s preference before any actual work is done.
Smile designing requires an intimate knowledge of proportions and balance, however, it does not necessary require the dentist to learn a new skill. This is why most smile design courses focus on skill enhancement rather than skill creation.
What Steps Are Involved In Smile Designing?
The first and the most important step of the entire process is taking photographs, having them analyzed and talking to the patient about their needs. This will help the doctor get an idea of what the patient wants and what kind of personality traits are on display as well as help communicate these findings more accurately to the lab.
Different sets of teeth are designed for people with different smile characteristics, facial contours, chewing patterns and even different physical builds. Once the initial analysis has been done and shown to the patient, the doctor will then walk them through the various choices made to improve their smile.
It may sometimes be necessary to treat more teeth than is initially apparent. For example, a patient may have come in with a complaint of a broken front tooth, however on analysis, it was revealed that treating all six of the front upper teeth would result in a much more aesthetic result and harmonious smile.
Once the treatment plan has been finalized, the doctor will then begin the process of making physical mock-ups for the patient. This is again, a very effective method of the patient having a close physical feel of what the final result will be.
The doctor will take a few impressions and then communicate the characteristics of the desired mock-up required to the lab. This process usually takes a few days. The patient is advised to bring with them some family or friends who can give them an outside perspective of the changes that have been made.
Quite often, patients themselves might not find anything wrong with the prosthesis, however, it is a big change for everyone else. They constantly point it out and make the patient nervous about their choices. Including more people in the decision making will help ease those fears.