I know... I know... Why didn't I open this page with some glossy photos of Hollywood type smiles?
Well, I do that kind of make-over from time to time too, but more often my most rewarding work is with smiles like these. In fact, we have folks who come to see us from all over New England, for our cosmetic work. A pleasing healthy smile is not just for the rich and famous. Today's options can be for anyone.
You will see photos here of people who invested a lot in their smile make-over, but many of the before/after photos were inexpensive transformations! The following transformation was not a big investment, yet it obviously made an amazing difference in her "smile power"!
I just can't help but imagine the potential youthful beauty in every smile I see. So read on and you'll learn a lot about all the possibilities....
(And we'll get to that Hollywood smile.)
Since I was a child, I have been looking at the world with an artistic eye on forms, color and perspective. This has translated into a successful expertise in Cosmetic Dentistry. (See our tab on the top menu of this page for our "smile gallery")
Our office is filled with my artwork. The walls are covered with my photography and paintings, and the halls with my metal sculpture. (You can see some of this on our webpage for Dr. Lynda's Artwork.)
But here on our cosmetic dentistry webpages, you will see my real passion: We change lives after we do a transforming smile make-over!
Here's some examples of life-changing improvements:
Here is a the remarkable improvement we made for a lovely, and accomplished 72 year old woman who had put her family members' needs before her own needs for decades. Eventually her appreciative family encouraged her to see us for this important make-over. In this gal's case, we used cosmetic bonding to close the spaces and bridges to replace missing teeth and make her smile more "full" looking. She has invested in the permanent bridges because she could not see herself having a removable partial denture. And she wasn't disappointed. This work turned back the clock on her smile by 30 years!
Here's a terrific improvement we made for an older woman who had a very old partial denture and the teeth did not even touch the gums anymore! She was unable to afford a whole new partial denture, so we used cosmetic bonding to even up her lower teeth and add to the teeth on the partial denture. In one visit, she was a new person!
This is the smile of a busy local professional who had lived with daily headaches for 10 years from a bad "bite". He had also worn his teeth down by clenching. We first sent him to Dr. Peterson, at Champlain Orthodontics, and they used braces to help him align his upper and lower teeth so that the headaches disappeared! Near the end of his orthodontic treatment (here in the 2nd photo) we added tooth colored filling material carefully to the edges of his front teeth, replacing all the enamel that he had worn away over the years.
This is a 60 year old woman who came in complaining that she had stopped smiling all together because her lower teeth were so ugly. You can see that she had many teeth with crowns and her gums had receded so badly that the roots of the teeth were exposed. In the second picture, we have used our fabulous computer technology - CEREC - to make her new porcelain crowns in one visit! (This is the same technology they use on the "Make Over" TV shows.) This was a big investment, but she was ALL SMILES when she left! And this definitely made her smile look 25 years younger
In this "BEFORE" picture, you can see a woman had a terrible cosmetic bonding job done by a dentist when she was a teenager!.. Terrible! I simply removed the old cosmetic bonding plastic and did a proper job. The point of this photo is that not every dentist is good at cosmetic dentistry. (I am not good at pulling teeth!.. Everyone has their strengths!) I have been a paid professional artist since the age of 15, so cosmetic dentistry comes naturally to me.
This is a 55 year old patient of ours who did not care about the problems with his smile for many years, then one day he came in and wanted a complete make-over. We placed four all-porcelain crowns on his front teeth and this change turned back the clock on his smile 25 years! Next time I saw him he was driving a Porsche!
The next smile make-over was not thousands of dollars but it was a remarkable transformation. Every time I see this fellow, it makes we appreciate the gift I have to give to others.
This gentleman had been told by two other dentists that he needed 6 root canals, 8 crowns and much more. ($14,000 of dental work), so he avoided dentists for 15 years. When his smile became very handicapped, he began using Photoshop to "paint" teeth in his Christmas Card photographs.
We did this make-over for about $1400, with a lot of cosmetic bonding in ONE VISIT! He still has his own teeth and was a new man!
Years later now, he has needed only two root canals and the cosmetic bonding looks like the day we placed it!
When I work with patients who would like to improve their smiles, we spend a long time discussing the possibilities and expectations. The final treatment plan is a collaboration and it is a great pleasure to see things imagined become reality.
I always tell people over 40 that there is no sense having a smile that looks 20 years older than you do... Especially if you are going to the trouble to stay on top of your other long-term wellness goals: Exercising, Eating right, etc..
The sets of BEFORE/AFTER photos that you have just seen were not expensive make-overs. Our cosmetic work does not have to be extensive or expensive. These were average folks who obviously had grave irregularities in their smiles.
The following pictures will illustrate a few of the concepts that are important to consider before having a "smile up-date" .....
KEY PRINCIPLE #1
Do you want a "natural" looking smile, or a "perfect" smile.
The two are very different.
A natural looking smile can be bright, but it will have some very detailed color variations like all natural teeth have: an almost imperceptible translucent gray tone on the edges of the teeth and a tiny bit more yellow at the gum-line. These kinds of make-overs are "invisible". Perhaps so natural looking that no one would guess that your smile is not the one that your were born with. We would choose a very light shade for the porcelain, but not bright "white".
A perfect smile will be perfectly white, much like the smiles that you see (which are probably digitally altered) on a magazine cover. They are just that - perfectly white, perfectly shaped teeth.
***There is no right or wrong here. It's simply a preference. Where teeth are concerned, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
The next pictures are those of a wonderful gal who works out every day, had a gorgeous persona and the youthful energy of someone 20 years her junior. Unfortunately, she had some deep staining from tetracycline and different dentists had tried different "tooth by tooth" measures to improve things. She was frustrated with the previous cosmetic attempts that were chipped and she felt that the three front crowns looked "like kernels of corn". She hated the gray tone of her remaining enamel and the large black fillings.
Her goal was to have the whitest and most perfectly matched teeth that I could manage. I must say, her BEFORE smile did look 20 years older than she did.
She was delighted with this outcome. We opened her bite to make the space for properly shaped teeth and then had 12 crowns made that fit her goals. If these were my own teeth, I would have wanted them a little less "white" and I would have wanted more color variation. But it was her perspective that counted and we wanted what she wanted.
KEY PRINCIPLE #2
How much of a transformation is practical for you?
Everyone has a different budget, different anxiety level, different ideas about what "needs" to be fixed.
As you have seen in the first few pictures at the top of this page, a really big improvement does not have to be thousands and thousands of dollars and it doesn't have to take days in the dental chair. When we do our "affordable make-overs", we consider it a "first step" in a process: First we give people a reason to take better care of their teeth, and then as the years pass, they usually move through more comprehensive repairs, at whatever pace their budgets can withstand. Here is a good example:
The next photos are of a fabulous young business man. He had very crooked and stained teeth. His smile did not match his glowing and professional persona. He really needed braces and crowns, but he was just starting out and could not afford either. After his insurance, his "out of pocket" expense was about $400. You can see in his "AFTER" photo, we have improved things A LOT! It's not perfect, but this vast improvement was a gift to both of us. I even surprised myself with that project!
And it's NOT just for young people.....
The next two transformations were both done with a lot of simple cosmetic bonding for 2 different patients over the age of 85. We might have gotten a much, much better result had we put crowns on every tooth, but their budgets and their expectations were satisfied by the super improvement we were able to make in just one visit with "cosmetic bonding".
This first gal taught me the most important rule for any cosmetic dentist - don't make any assumptions. This gal was actually 90 years old. She came every 6 months, like clock-work to see us. She had some very ancient dentistry, but no frank decay, so I never mentioned to her that she should be concerned about the obvious cosmetic problems with her smile. She had to ask me one day if there was anything that could be done. Zap! It hit me like a ton of bricks,... I was only 28 years old at the time. I just assumed that a woman over 80 didn't care about how she looked. How wrong I was. I have been specializing in these kinds of major transformations ever since.
The next BEFORE/AFTER photos even surprised me! This was a wonderful 85 year old gentleman who had been seeing another dentist every 6 months and been told at each visit that all was well. And technically, he too had no cavities. But his teeth were obviously worn down to nothing and he wanted to be "restored" too. He just wanted some teeth to show when he smiled. We spent about 3 hours building up his bite in the back again, so we would have room for this transformation. This was VERY complex cosmetic bonding - more pins and plastic than I've ever used,... BUT.. The smile I got from him when it was finished was transforming for me. What a joy!
KEY PRINCIPLE #3
Even if your budget isn't an issue, your "bite" may be.
If you have worn down or fractured teeth, there is a reason for that - your bite must be in a terrible imbalance. This means your teeth meet each other (tops against bottoms) in a traumatic way, thousands of times each day. Slowly they have worn down into a condition call "bite collapse". This is very often the case with folks who come to us complaining that their teeth are too "short". Here is a classic, affordable "worn teeth" make-over:
This before/after is pushing plastic filling material to the limit. Not many dentists would want to do this work. To be honest, there is no quick fix for this sort of problem, if you expect the new dentistry to be stable for a long time. A more predictable and cosmetic option would be to cover all these teeth with caps (crowns), but the expense of that is out of the reach of many people. This gentleman needed $20,000 worth of crowns to get things close to ideal. We were able to do this important improvement for a fraction of that. He was delighted!
We can make the most beautiful crowns to improve the cosmetics, but they will begin to fracture themselves in short order unless very careful attention is paid to FIRST putting your bite back in a harmonious position.
We can definitely restore "short" teeth, but we always have to take great care in managing your bite before, during and after treatment is completed.
The next photos are of my father, Dr. Edward Ulrich. He was a wonderful family physician. He internalized his stress and over 30 years, he had worn his teeth down to nubs. When I first started doing cosmetic dentistry, we did a complete make-over for my dad (with 28 crowns) and it changed the way he laughed and smiled proudly for the rest of his life.
My dad's "bite" and his intense clenching habit would not have allowed for an inexpensive make-over. We had to re-invent the wheel for him. We opened his bite by almost a quarter inch! Fortunately, he was very comfortable at that new "bite" for the rest of his life. This kind of complex investment is something you would only want to go through with a dentist who has many, many years of experience with re-constructing smiles.
KEY PRINCIPLE #4
Always do the very best job for your mother (and anybody's mother),....... or you'll hear about it every day thereafter.
Here's the Hollywood smile I promised......
I've chosen to use my mom's before/after because it refers back to the point we started with... It's just not necessary to look in the mirror and see a smile that looks 20 years older than you do. My mother is a gorgeous gal, very smart dresser... AND she has two daughters that are dentists (my sister is an orthodontist). We just let her walk around with yellow, "mature" looking teeth for 18 years because that was our mom,.... that's what she looked like. Until one day she turned to me and said, "How come I have such ugly teeth and I have 2 daughters I've paid dental school tuitions for?!" Well,... it's a fair question.
The transformation here was done in one visit of about 6 hours. These are porcelain veneers that we have made on the spot with our CEREC technology (see CEREC under our Restoring Teeth tab) CEREC is the computer technology that allows the dentists to completely overhaul, in one day, the smiles for folks on the "make-over" TV program. Only 13% of dentists in the U.S. use this technology and only a small fraction of those are using it for front teeth transformations. On another previously discussed point - my mother wanted a "natural" looking smile instead of a "magazine cover" smile, so we chose a light shade for her veneers, but not toothpaste "white".
My mother is a "tooth clencher", so we were hesitant to use this technology for her, but this work is a couple years old now and it looks like the day we worked our magic!
So, there you have a Brief History of the Universe of cosmetic dentistry. There is much, much more to discuss. We haven't even scratched the surface.
If you'd like to learn about your options, contact us and we'll be glad to spend some time with you in a consultation.