The Changing Definition of a Perfect #Hollywood Smile
The Real problem with traditional dental veneers has less to do with how they function or their performance and more to do with who is now deciding what’s considered a normal, esthetically pleasing smile. America has struggled for decades with the issue of “image” as defined by a marketplace that is bent on capitalizing on peoples’ flaws for economic gain. The danger of this national obsession has become systemic since the days of Twiggy. Perpetuated and fed by fashion magazines that offer Photoshopped perfection as the standard to which we should aspire, the effects of this insidious marketing have made their way into breast implants, lip enhancements, and the definition of a Hollywood smile. Convinced that they must carve up their bodies and now their teeth, people have bent their resources towards chasing a false picture of the flawless self that is sold in magazines and becomes ever more “perfect.” In search of a smile makeover, investments in the tens of thousands of dollars is not uncommon for people who go to their dentist to get the perfect smile.
Jane’s Smile Makeover
This insidious message has become so endemic that even people with nice smiles become convinced that only a perfect, flawless, Hollywood smile is acceptable. One particularly relevant example of this is highlighted in a June 2015 article entitled “Saving Jane’s Smile.” Gary Nankin, DDS discusses how he “saved” the smile of a patient who was not content with her first set of #porcelain veneers. According to Dr. Nankin, Jane was unhappy with her veneers:
About a year prior to her visit to my office, Jane had porcelain veneers placed by her previous dentist on her six top front teeth (numbers 6 to 11). From the very beginning, she was unhappy with them. She said that they just never felt like they belonged. The veneers felt bulky, flat, uneven, and most of the time were so uncomfortable that she just wanted to “rip them out.” In addition, food frequently got stuck behind them and she thought it looked like the surface of the teeth had “divots” in them.
In an attempt to rescue the woman from what she deemed a less than perfect set of veneers for which she had certainly paid at least $10,000.00, Dr. Nankin outlined his approach to “saving” Jane’s smile:
The sequence outlined for Jane’s treatment was as follows:
1. Endodontic referral for treatment of tooth number 15, followed by a composite core build-up.
2. Periodontal therapy in both the anterior region and upper left to achieve optimal tissue health.
3. Wax up of maxillary and mandibular teeth with the plan to place all ceramic restorations on her teeth (4 to 15, and 22 to 27) including the construction of a Sil-Tech® PVS index of both the maxillary and mandibular wax ups to aid in the construction of provisional restorations and utilizing the general shape of LVI Smile Catalog, “Natural.”
4. Preparation of maxillary teeth and placement of permanent restorations.
5. Placement of dental implant by the periodontist followed by preparation of mandibular teeth and placement of permanent restorations.
6. Restore the now fully-healed and osseointegrated implant in the position of tooth number 30.
When it comes to a person’s smile, the strong link to self-esteem and self-worth make an imperfect set of teeth a cause for concern. However, the picture in the article clearly illustrates what appears to be a well-constructed and healthy-looking smile. The entire premise is puzzling. How does a dentist promote “saving” a smile that 97% of the people in America would love to show off?
One of the primary reasons cited by an article in The Journal of the American Dental Association makes it clear:
…with the decrease in caries [ tooth decay] prevalence, the focus has shifted gradually from functional dentistry per se to esthetic dentistry. As a result, the perception of tooth appearance in modern society could influence the changes in patients’ needs.
In other words, since patients aren’t visiting the dentist primarily for tooth decay, their “needs” are more centered on esthetics than functional dentistry. As a result of the increasing prevalence being placed on cosmetic dentistry, a great deal of emphasis has shifted to catering to the creation of a plan that seeks to achieve the perfect smile at huge cost. The previous study details the effects:
Esthetics has become an important
aspect of dentistry. Until about the last
two decades, clinicians considered
esthetics to be far less important than
function, structure and biology. Today,
however, if a treatment plan does not
include a clear view of its esthetic
impact on the patient, the outcome could be disastrous.
After viewing the exhaustive work on Jane’s smile, one has to wonder how the effect of not spending tens of thousands of dollars on a second set of veneers would have been so disastrous. This reclassification of “esthetics” as an inherently necessary component of dental care is particularly troubling as it cannot accurately be measured or managed. People who trust the professional opinion of a dentist are vulnerable to being convinced that minor, esthetic problems with their smile require expensive measures to correct in order to be “normal.” Perhaps the real problem with veneers lies in the ever more pervasive use of cosmetic dentistry to cover up even the smallest flaw as a means of capitalizing on the dysfunctional body imagery of a vulnerable population. If Jane needed to be saved from her “before” smile, the bar for a “normal” smile is now so high that natural, God-given teeth can never compete.
A cosmetic smile enhancement should not have to cost a fortune. You decide when and if you are ready for traditional veneers to achieve your perfect smile. That’s why Brighter Iamge Lab has created removable dental veneers to allow people time to evaluate all of their options before committing to porcelain veneers. We understand that people want to be proud of their smile, and that’s why we offer Press On Veneers as a choice for a non-dental, reversible, and removable cosmetic smile contrivance. Call and talk to Laurie Hall today to find out more about Press On Veneers.