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Sensational Smiles

From a first impression to your overall health, your smile tells the story.
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Dental implants
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Whether for business or in social situations, making a good first impression is important—and the key to establishing a positive first impression is your smile. A bright, healthy, attractive smile—whether you are meeting someone in person, online, or even when posting or sharing a photo—tells a brief story about who you are. If you’re lucky (and genetically blessed), you’ll likely need a few dental check-ups a year to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. However, most people need more than regular teeth cleanings to achieve the smile of their dreams. 

A wide array of cosmetic dental options is available to achieve a desirable smile—whitening, veneers, and bonding among them. More important than the appearance of your smile is the health of the teeth and gums. An experienced, reputable cosmetic dentist won’t perform today’s most sought-after cosmetic dental procedures unless a patient’s mouth is healthy and can provide a good foundation for the work. 

Gum health is often overlooked but shouldn’t be, as medical researchers have pinpointed a direct link between oral health and overall systemic health. Periodontal disease, more commonly referred to as gum disease, has been linked to diabetes, respiratory disease, and certain cancers. Poor oral health has also been connected to pre-term birth, and recent studies have shown a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Gum disease can be an indicator of heart disease, too, because plaque in your mouth is the same plaque that the clogs arteries. Anaerobic bacteria from the mouth associated with gum disease have been found to migrate to the circulatory system which may increase the risk of sudden heart attack and stroke. This same bacteria in the blood stream can also weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight illness. 

When harmful bacteria grow in the mouth and gum disease remains untreated, the body stays in an inflammatory state. Correcting your bite and improving your oral health can actually make you healthier overall. Dr. Ashly Cothern, a general and cosmetic dentist, says that because the health of the mouth and the body’s health are so intimately connected, it is imperative to maintain good oral hygiene. “If you have inflammatory properties in your mouth, those same inflammatory properties can get into the bloodstream—and so much of what ails us begins with inflammation,” she says.

“By changing the length, shape, and color of the teeth just somewhat, the results can be better than a facelift. The more teeth you can see and the whiter the smile, the younger you look.”

Dr. Salvatore La Mastra

Dr. Cothern says comprehensive dental care should include a discussion between dentists and patients about this connection between the health of their teeth and gums and the rest of their body. “At our practice, we want to know our patients as people and learn about why their teeth have the wear they do,” she says. “The oral/systemic connection is key, which is why I also like to know about a patient’s diet, exercise and sleep habits, and how they are caring for their mouth. When dentists tell their patients to brush and floss regularly, we aren’t being annoying. We know that so much about illness and disease is inflammation, and we are walking around every day with so much inflammation in our bodies. There is a lot we cannot control about our health, but we can control a few things, such as having proper oral hygiene, which will decrease the opportunity for those inflammatory properties to occur. If your gums are bleeding every time that you get your teeth cleaned, it’s good indicator that something else is going on systemically.”

Dr. Salvatore La Mastra with Hamlett & La Mastra, D.D.S. takes ample time with his patients to discuss the link between oral health and their general health. Most patients, he says, aren’t aware of the connection. “If you have healthy gums, you may have a reduced risk of disease, such as diabetes and heart disease,” he says. “Beyond that, aligning teeth if they are crooked makes it easier to floss and clean. Therefore, correcting your bite could potentially keep the entire body healthier. Many times, to avoid risks in surgery, surgeons will not perform surgery of any kind on a patient until a dentist has cleared them and confirmed they have good oral health.”

Dr. Mary Swift with Dallas Laser Dentistry has taken addressing this connection between oral health and overall wellness head on with annual digital wellness scans. “Once a year, we capture a digital replica of each patient’s dentition, so that in subsequent years, we can superimpose those images to determine if there are any changes due to wear and tear, or potential gum disease, and monitor what we find,” Dr. Swift says. “I think in another 10 years, these digital scans will become part of the new standard of care in dentistry.”

Dr. Cothern also uses digital scanners in her practice and says patients prefer them over the traditional “goopy” impressions that were used for decades. “We use the iTero digital scanner for impressions, crowns, restorative work, and other procedures—it’s much more accurate and faster,” Dr. Cothern says. “These digital scans help us build a patient’s file and monitor any progression of concerning issues. It has been a great diagnostic tool that also happens to encompass overall wellness.”

Dr. La Mastra says that, as in many industries today, AI is the latest technology used in dentistry as well. “It has been fascinating to watch how AI can detect early cavities, bone loss, and gum recession from X-rays often before a dentist or lab technician can,” he says. “It has truly helped improve diagnostics for patients. And digital impressions with a scanner are now 20 times more accurate than the traditional molds dentists have been using. We can communicate faster with the lab by sending the scans over the Cloud rather than by shipping physical impressions.”

The results of having a healthy mouth can be felt by patients almost immediately. “We can see a patient’s energy shift after an extraction and removing the dental infection,” says Dr. Davina Prida with Inwood Village Dental. “It’s easy to overlook the effects of oral health on the body because we think of it as being only contained to the mouth, but in actuality, the body is a complete system—everything circulates. Being able to help a patient in a bigger way has been an exciting part of dentistry.”

“One of the most difficult aspects of dentistry for patients is anxiety. Choose a dentist who provides a high level of comfort and connection. Most dentists offer the same procedures; notice the care and attention you receive, because everything else flows from there.”

Dr. Davina Prida

Once you get your mouth back to a healthy state, you can address your smile’s aesthetics not only for a bright, white smile but for a younger appearance as well. “With cosmetic procedures, such as Invisalign, whitening, veneers, and bonding, you are restoring vitality to the teeth, which contributes to a more youthful appearance,” Dr. LaMastra says. “As we get older, we clench and grind our teeth, and they become worn down, which causes the face to collapse a little. By changing the length, shape, and color of the teeth just somewhat, the results can be better than a facelift. The more teeth you can see and the whiter the smile, the younger you look. Also, when you are happier with your smile, you smile more and have confidence. Just being happy can make you feel more energetic and younger, and it all starts with the smile.”

Dr. Prida says updated technologies and procedures in cosmetic dentistry have made all the difference for her patients, particularly for those who want a smile makeover. Dr. Prida was often frustrated with the limitations of relying solely on a lab for the design of a new smile, so she implemented the iTero digital scanner in her practice to perfect the design of her patients’ smiles. “We actually design and sculpt the new smile on the patient with temporaries using the scanner, and then we send those designs to the lab to create the veneers specifically from my design,” she says. “This really speaks to the importance of the design aspect of dentistry when creating a new smile and how important it is for the dentist to have an artistic eye and a good sense of design. The lab never meets the patient and sees their lips, the space of the mouth, or how they move their mouth when they talk, which all play a role in the design.”

The following cosmetic dental treatments are among the most popular in Dallas area dental offices.

Whitening. Whitening treatments are the most requested cosmetic dental procedure in Dallas dental offices. Most patients choose either laser teeth whitening, power bleaching, or at-home supervised bleaching trays for convenience and affordability. Laser treatments, such as Zoom, typically last one to three hours in a dentist’s office and can whiten teeth an average of eight shades or more. During the procedure, a special whitening gel and blue light laser treatment work together to when 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. “Whitening is the least expensive cosmetic procedure and can make a big difference,” says Dr. Swift. “Whitening can make you look younger, since our brains equate yellower, darker, teeth with age. This is what will happen naturally when you age without cosmetic intervention.”

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 their teeth, broken or chipped teeth, and unsightly stains and fillings. “The newest porcelains are more aesthetic looking and stronger, meaning not only do they look good, but they last longer,” Dr. La Mastra says. 

Porcelain Crowns. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over the tooth, covering it to restore the shape, size, and strength and to improve its appearance. Once cemented into place, crowns fully encase the visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. Today’s porcelain crowns are now metal-free, which means you can avoid the dark lines and poor matching you see with old-style crowns. Porcelain crowns have a more natural look and are virtually imperceptible. The crowns blend with your other teeth as if they grew there. 

Bonding. From lightening to restoration, bonding is a common solution for anyone seeking a healthier looking smile. Bonding is a composite resin filling placed in the teeth. Composites are the solution for restoring decayed teeth, making cosmetic improvements and even changing the color of teeth or reshaping them. Bonding will lighten stains, close minor gaps, and can sometimes correct crooked teeth. Bonding covers natural flaws by applying a thin coating of a plastic material on the front surface of the teeth followed by bonding material that can be sculpted, colored, and shaped to the patient’s liking. A high-intensity light then hardens the plastic, and the surface is finely polished. 

Dental Implants. A dental implant is a small, yet sturdy titanium post that acts as the root structure would for a natural tooth. Dental implants are often necessary due to loss of a tooth or several teeth due to injury or disease. Dental implants are placed into the upper or lower jawbone. Once the bone has grown around the implants, they can hold a crown, bridge, or denture just like roots hold natural teeth in place. Permanently anchored to the jawbone, dental implants restore chewing ability, provide support for the facial muscles, and prevent jawbone atrophy. Most of today’s implants are designed to last a lifetime. Dr. Swift says her patients are often relieved to learn that some cosmetic procedures, such as replacing a missing tooth with an implant, can also have health benefits by maintaining bone structure in the skull/jaw, which could eventually disappear if there is no tooth to stimulate the bone. This can lead to a “collapse” of the facial/skin structure, even when the teeth aren’t showing.

A new smile is an investment of time—and money. But for most patients, it’s worth spending both. 

“When you are proud of your smile, you smile more often and bigger,” Dr. Swift says. “Smiling triggers endorphins, which makes you feel happier. Knowing you have a great smile generates tremendous self-confidence. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a patient beaming with happiness because they love their new smile—and with today’s options and new technologies in dentistry, there is more than one solution to get there.”

Resource Directory

Ashly Cothern, D.D.S.
drcothern.com

Dallas Laser Dentistry
https://www.dallascosmeticdentist.us/

Inwood Village Dental
https://inwoodvillagedental.com/

Hamlett & La Mastra, D.D.S.
cosmeticdentistofdallas.com

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