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Ready For a Smile Upgrade?

The cosmetic dentist you choose will make all the difference.

Once you have made the decision to improve your appearance with a smile makeover—whether this includes veneers, a few implants, or a full-mouth restoration—the next (and most critical) step is choosing a cosmetic dentist. The sticker shock of the latest cosmetic dentistry procedures can take some people by surprise, which leads to them chasing down the lowest cost. But as with most things, you’ll get what you pay for.

“People don’t realize that when they shop for price, they risk getting a result that doesn’t look natural because, most likely, the work is done in a mass production lab,” says Dr. Mark Sowell, a Plano cosmetic dentist with Sensational Smiles. “They wind up disappointed and go back to the marketplace looking for a more qualified and experienced cosmetic dentist and will have to pay for the work again. Sometimes, the patients will just live with their undesirable results, but they aren’t happy with them.”

While replacing one or several teeth with implants is something that can be done by many dentists, replacing or enhancing the front teeth is where a cosmetic dentist’s skill, artistry, and experience become keys to success. “Experience is a big educator,” Dr. Sowell says. “In cosmetic dentistry, just a few millimeters can make a big difference in the result. There are hundreds of tiny details that go into smile makeovers, which is why it is important to choose an experienced, qualified cosmetic dentist who will spend time with you to explore your expectations and explain the process.”

When selecting a cosmetic dentist, Dr. Sowell recommends asking several questions about the lab and where it is located, how long it will take to get a natural-looking result, and about the long-term success of their cases. “Everyone is into a fast turnaround these days with one-day procedures,” he says. “This can work for one or a few of the back teeth, but a one-day procedure won’t yield a good result on the front teeth.”

When looking for a cosmetic dentist for your smile makeover, Dr. Sowell suggests keeping the following criteria in mind:

  • Is the dentist ACCD-accredited? This means the dentist has been through an accreditation process where their cosmetic work has been examined and evaluated by an examination board for natural beauty and esthetics.
  • Does the dentist have an in-house master ceramicist (porcelain artist) he or she works closely with to achieve a customized, personalized result? Natural ceramics mimic nature and require artistic skill that can’t be achieved in a mass-production lab.
  • Ask to see a library of before-and-after cases to demonstrate the quality and natural beautify of their results.
  • Will the dentist spend time with you and listen to you to explain the pros and cons of your requests? Do they offer alternate solutions to achieve what you are looking for?
  • Ask the dentist to show you images or mock-ups of what you are requesting before to get a clear idea of the final result.
  • Make sure the dentist explains the process, so you are informed and comfortable throughout the process.
  • Is the dentist able to offer all the supporting procedures needed to complete an ideal result, or do they need to refer you to other dentists to complete your treatment?
  • Will the in-house ceramicist be able to make changes, if desired, at the time of seating the final ceramic without sending it out to another lab?
  • Does the dentist demonstrate the ability to design a bite to minimize wear for long-term success and longevity?
  • Can the dentist show you long-term success cases, even on high-wear cases? A dentist who has been in practice for more than 20 years should have many examples.

For more than 35 years, Dr. Mark Sowell has served the community by providing state-of-the-art dental care. He is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of cosmetic dentistry, implant dentistry, and restorative dentistry. Because of his relentless commitment to excellence in all aspects of dental care, Dr. Sowell is often asked to lecture to other dentists and attends over 100 hours of rigorous postdoctoral training each year. Dr. Sowell is a member of an elite group of dentists who have achieved both Master status with the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and Accredited Membership with the prestigious American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Fewer than 40 dentists nationwide have earned both professional distinctions. While these recognitions illustrate Dr. Sowell’s dedication to providing the best that dentistry has to offer, he has achieved numerous other merits in the field of dentistry. He is also visiting faculty at Spear education in Arizona, teaching in workshops for faculty-generated treatment planning, including airway, TMD, gum and bone disease, esthetics (smile design), and function to create predictable, long-term results. For more information about Dr. Sowell, visit