Any Change in a Smile Can be an "extreme Makeover"

By: Patricia Woloch ">

Henry K. had spent years perfecting the art of "Not Smiling." Not even a trim physique and rugged good looks could cure a self-conscious need to hide brown, short, stubby teeth. That is, until last week, when his cosmetic dentist placed the final touches on a brand new smile.

Tooth whitening, gum reshaping and eight porcelain veneers have made a giddy "smiling"-and unself-conscious-man of him.

Yet, the finally outgoing Henry is astounded that no one seems able to pinpoint the actual reason for his enhanced appearance. Friends and co-workers notice something is different. They ask about recent weight loss or about a new hairstyle. "I can't believe no one figures it out," he says. "To me, it's a huge difference. I look completely different. The transformation is dramatic."

So goes the near-chemical, inner change among patients when a smile turns shame into pride, shyness into confidence. "Patients glumly describe the despair of life without a smile," says Dr. Daniel J. Deutsch, of the Washington Center for Dentistry, in Washington, DC. "And after their first appointment-with only the first-stage temporary crowns or veneers-they are giddy with happiness and relief to finally feel like normal, smiling people."

Dr. Deutsch adds that even small changes-lengthening teeth, lifting gum tissue, lightening color-can create equally dramatic results:

?To change an older smile into a younger smile: Unlike in a young person, whose front teeth are visible even when the mouth is at rest, the smile of an older person usually shows no front teeth at rest, says Dr. Deutsch. He merely makes the front teeth a bit longer, to create a dramatically younger look.

?To change a short, nubby smile into a broader smile: Dr. Deutsch explains that the idea is to fill the smile with teeth and eliminate dark areas. Sometimes "reshaping" gum tissue to reveal more tooth surface is all that's needed to create a "bigger" smile, he says.

?To change a dark, unhappy smile into a bright, friendly smile: Whitening under an in-office bleach light can work wonders. "For some patients, a brighter, lighter tooth color instantly upgrades a smile to an A-plus level," Dr. Deutsch says. "It's an easy fix, making patients feel happier and younger."

Dental Surgery
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