In Dallas, we’re as comfortable discussing which doctor did what procedure for us as we are talking about the Texas weather. It’s no secret the fight against aging begins with making sure you have the right medical professionals in your corner. While breast augmentation and liposuction remain the top two plastic surgery procedures in Dallas, a new smile achieved with the latest advances in cosmetic dentistry isn’t far behind when it comes to the never-ending quest for youth and beauty.

 As it turns out, a rejuvenated smile is a key factor in knocking a few years off of your appearance. With the right cosmetic dentist, tell-tale facial fine lines and wrinkles can disappear following some of the latest cosmetic dental procedures. Your smile is also an important aspect of making a good first impression. Meet someone for the first time, and in mere seconds, a judgment is made. Much of this assessment is based on what people notice first—your smile.

This is why more people are shifting their focus from improving their body image to enhancing their smile. Cosmetic dentistry is becoming so popular that dentists are booking just as many appointments for teeth whitening and porcelain veneers as they are cleanings and fillings. 

 “A bright, white, and flawless smile is an important part of making a good impression both professionally and socially,” says Dr. Kenneth Hamlett. “This luxury isn’t reserved for actors on the silver screen and other public figures. Smile makeovers have helped millions of Americans enjoy a healthy, attractive smile.”
 
 The benefits of a smile maakeover reach far beyond what you can see. According to Dr. Lee Fitzgerald, cosmetic dentistry beautifies people from the inside, out. When patients are worried about the costs and time involved in cosmetic dentistry procedures, Dr. Fitzgerald reminds them the benefits often outlast and are more noticeable than traditional cosmetic surgery procedures to the face and body. Cosmetic surgery results are not always predictable and won’t last as long as the results of cosmetic dentistry, which can remain for up to 20 years.

 “Most importantly, cosmetic dentistry makes you more self-confident. When you look good on the outside, you’re going to feel good inside,” Dr. Fitzgerald says. “Also, when you look better, you want to maintain the look, so you’ll start taking better care of yourself. When you consider what a tremendous impact these simple, safe, and predictable procedures can have on your life, there’s really no reason to live with a smile or self-image you don’t like.

 Much like researching plastic surgery options, learning about cosmetic dentistry and qualified dentists takes time and diligence. Safety and natural-looking outcomes are crucial, which is why you should feel confident in the procedures and dentist you choose long before hopping into the dental chair. Let this Guide to Beautiful Smiles be your first step in making a stellar first impression with your smile.

Choosing a Cosmetic Dentist

If a smile makeover sounds good to you, but a trip to the dentist doesn’t, don’t delay making an appointment just yet. Today’s technology not only changes smiles; it also reduces pain—the most common fear keeps people from taking advantage of what cosmetic dentistry can do from them.

 The amount of sedation required for general and cosmetic dentistry procedures is typically measured by the patient’s tolerance. The dentist can administer a local anesthetic while the patient watches movies on DVD through special eyewear, or the dentist can call on the services of an anesthesiologist who will help the patient fall asleep during the procedure. Other perks local dentists provide to make patients comfortable include noise-reducing headphones, aromatherapy, neck pillows, and hot towels. Even better, patients won’t undergo the procedure until they are completely satisfied with their smile, which certainly helps them relax. One of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures, teeth whitening, has also become more comfortable in recent years. Patients often reported extreme sensitivity following laser teeth whitening. Now your cosmetic dentist can apply a special chemical on teeth prior to the whitening procedure that reduces or, in the case with some patients, eliminates sensitivity. 

 Choosing a dentist that offers a “try before you buy” approach can also help ease anxiety about a dental visit. Smile imaging software allows patients to be completely involved in choosing their smile. After selecting the color and shape of their teeth, dentists use a computerized program that “places” the new smile on a photo of the patient. Once patients choose their favorite option, a wax mock up of the smile is made. Tooth by tooth, the patient and dentist work together to create just the right size, shape, and color before the mock-up becomes permanent. Patients can “try out” their new smile for a few days with the temporaries until permanent restorations are ready to be placed. 

But to get the “wow factor,” it’s essential to choose a dentist who specializes in cosmetic surgery and has the credentials to prove it. Use the following tips as a guide when choosing a cosmetic dentist for your smile makeover.

Consider having a consultation with at least three dentists before selecting the one who will design your new smile. You’ll be surprised at their varied training and educational backgrounds, business philosophy, proven results, and patient care. Choose the one with whom you feel the most comfortable and who is the most qualified to perform the procedure you desire.

Ask to see a before and after photo book. Make sure the photos are of actual patients and not a general book of before and after photos.

Ask for references of patients who had the same procedure you’re considering and inquire about the dentist’s ability and the results. Another option is ask if the dentist is sponsoring a free seminar about today’s latest cosmetic dentistry options where you can listen to them describe the techniques, ask questions of actual patients, and possibly receive a free smile imaging session.

Ask for the dentist’s education and training beyond dental school. Most dental schools do not provide training for aesthetic dentistry. Make sure the dentists you’re considering have logged many hours at a reputable school or program that specializes in aesthetic dentistry training and are members of aesthetic dental societies.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry® can help you find the right cosmetic dentist through its patient referral and information network. AACD member dentists receive continuing education through lectures, workshops and journals in order to keep abreast of advancements in cosmetic dental techniques and technology. The AACD also maintains a credentialing program called Accreditation, which provides both the dental profession and the public with a recognizable standard of excellence in the field. The Accreditation program requires dentists to prove their expertise in a variety of ways, including written and oral presentations on completed treatments for patients with a variety of cosmetic dental needs. Contact the AACD at 800.543.9220 or visit www.aacd.com.

Be wary of discounts or deals. In most cases, you get what you pay for.

How Dallas Dentists Give Back

Several of Dallas’ top dentists donate their time and skills to give back to the community that supports them through programs such as Attitudes & Attire™ and the Give Back a Smile™ program, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

 Attitudes & Attire™ is a Dallas-based nonprofit agency dedicated to the promotion of personal growth for women seeking self-sufficiency. It has partnered with 14 North Texas dental professionals to launch a new program called Hopeful Smiles, offering critical dental care, free of charge, for women who are in the Attitudes & Attire™ program. 

 The program provides the tools that raise self-esteem, promote ethics, and build the confidence necessary to succeed in the workplace. Through the Hopeful Smiles program, up to 50 deserving women receive a “new smile” free of charge each year.

 Attitudes & Attire™ has served more than 7,500 women in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, providing self-esteem coaching, job training, workshops on interpersonal communication and ethics, and professional interview attire from the nonprofit’s boutique. The addition of the Hopeful Smiles program will further enhance their professional appearance and confidence, ultimately improving their self worth and helping them in their search for self-sufficiency. Many of the clients have suffered from abuse, malnutrition, and addiction and, as a result, are in real need of dental care. Those most in need are suffering from dental disease and are missing teeth. Their dental predicament often becomes a severe hindrance to their self-esteem and their search for employment, making it difficult to find a job. For more information, please visit the Attitudes & Attire™ web site at www.attitudesandattire.org

 Several top Dallas area dentists also work with the Give Back a Smile™ program through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. The Give Back a Smile™ program is dedicated to providing cosmetic dental care at no cost to all survivors of domestic violence by raising awareness of domestic violence; providing volunteer members of the AACD the opportunity to give back to the community; and giving survivors hope.

 Through this program, AACD members volunteer their time and talents in restoring the smiles of survivors of domestic violence who have suffered damage to, or lost, their front teeth due to abusive attacks. Through the program, the AACD’s goal is to help restore the appearance and self-esteem levels of those who have been abused. Volunteer dentists and laboratory technicians restore the broken and damaged teeth of survivors of domestic violence. For more information, visit American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistrys web site at www.aacd.com.

Q and A with Dallas’ Top Dentists

Q. Do you worry your fear of the dentist has robbed you of achieving a beautiful smile?

A. “About 50 percent of the population is afraid of going to the dentist. Perceptions linger on, but technology and medications have revolutionized patients’ experiences. We now offer several options that allow you to sleep through the procedure including IV sedation, oral sedation, and nitrous oxide. Most patients prefer sedation dentistry because it helps them avoid numerous dental visits, saving them time and offering immediate results. We pamper the clients when they wake up with a warm face cloth, juice, or protein shake and they leaved refreshed and stress-free.”
— Dr. Mark Sowell
 
Q. What is the first step in pursuing a smile makeover?

A. “Having both healthy teeth and gums are essential in an attractive smile. If the teeth are not healthy then any attempt at whitening or veneering the teeth can actually do more harm than good. If the gums are not healthy you can have gum recession or tooth loss because the underlying gum support is not adequate. It is very important to have both tooth and gum health for a beautiful and long lasting smile.”
— Dr. Lee Fitzgerald

Q. What are some things I should be aware of before choosing a cosmetic dentist?

A. “Find out what professional associations the doctor is a member of and what their status is in that organization. Any doctor can pay dues and be a member. Make sure you see actual photos of the dentist’s work. There are companies that put together books of dental work that a dentist can use as an example, but it’s not his or her work. Make sure the doctor will explain all options to you, and not push you to do one specific procedure. Make sure he or she works with you to determine the best procedures available to achieve your goals.”
—Dr. Kenneth Hamlett

Q. What is the connection between the health of your mouth and the health of your body?

A. “Dental health is important to your body’s health. New research is coming out every day about the oral systemic connection to overall health. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy can increase life expectancy and improve health quality. This is especially true for patients that are at increased risk of a heart attack, diabetes, or are pregnant. Researchers have discovered an important connection between periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pre-term low birth weight babies, cancers, Alzheimer’s, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and more. Tests can identify the causes of periodontal disease, the state of progression, and determine a patient’s genetic risk for periodontal disease.”
— Dr. Sarah Tevis Poteet

The Anatomy of a Smile Makeover

Porcelain Veneers. Crafted from tooth-colored porcelain materials, veneers are thin, custom-made cosmetic enhancements designed to cover the front of the teeth. The size, shape, color, and length of the teeth can be enhanced with a thin layer of porcelain applied to your natural tooth. Porcelain veneers offer an aesthetic alternative to orthodontic care and are so durable they last up to 20 years. Porcelain veneers result in a natural-looking appearance because they are so thin. Veneers are a great option for people with gaps between the teeth, broken or chipped teeth, and unsightly stains and fillings. Cost: $900 to $2,500 per tooth.

Caps. Dental caps placed over troublesome teeth mask imperfections and strengthen teeth at the same time. Your dentist will create a custom cap after making a mold of the problem tooth. The cap is then cemented to the tooth to cover the entire affected area. Porcelain caps average $3,000 for the entire process, but newer reinforced resin or bonded all-porcelain caps can cost more. Caps can last up to 15 years and can be matched to nearly any tooth color.

Dental Reshaping. A quick, painless solution for slightly crooked, chipped, or overlapping teeth is dental reshaping. Here, tooth enamel is either removed or contoured to achieve the desired shape. Your dentist may use a sanding drill, laser, or abrasive strips to sculpt the teeth, but anesthetics are rarely needed for the procedure. Cost: Approximately $100 per tooth.

Cosmetic Gum Surgery. When the proportion of gum to teeth is uneven, ask your dentist about cosmetic gum surgery. In this procedure, your dentist uses a tool–usually a laser–to remove excess gum, making teeth appear longer. Relatively quick and painless, results are permanent. Cost: $500 to $3000.

Whitening. The most unattractive thing about a smile is discolored teeth, according to a recent American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry consumer poll. Whitening treatments are the most requested cosmetic dental procedure, increasing more than 300 percent since 1996. Popular choices are laser teeth whitening, power bleaching, or at-home supervised bleaching trays.

 Laser treatments, the most effective and long-lasting form of teeth whitening, typically last one to three hours in a dentist’s office and whiten teeth an average of eight shades or more. During the procedure, a special whitening gel and blue light laser treatment work together to whiten teeth to their optimal shade. Make sure to check if the in-office bleaching agents used have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, an assurance that the product has met the ADA standards of safety and effectiveness. Cost: Varies.

Guide to Beautiful Smiles Resource Directory

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Dr. Lee Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald Dental Center
424 Maplelawn Drive
Plano, Texas 75075
972.612.7800
www.estheticdentist.com
 
Dr. Kenneth Hamlett
8100 Lomo Alto, Suite 110
Dallas, Texas 75225
214.363.9474
www.drhamlett.com
 
Dr. Sarah Tevis Poteet
8226 Douglas Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75225
214.363.4414
www.dallassmiledentist.com
 
Dr. Mark Sowell
Sowell Aesthetic Dentistry Centre
1200 Village Creek Drive #102
Plano, Texas 75093
972.931.0090
www.smilesbysowell.com