I am writing this from an American Airlines S80 bound for Dallas, Texas for the annual American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) Conference. It is the premier meeting nationally for hearing all the latest techniques/ materials/ strategies for creating the prettiest smiles with ultimate comfort. Lest you view this as a boondoggle in order to vacation for the week (as some of my family believe), I will be attending classes from 8-5 each day with this years focus being on creating beautiful teeth utilizing state of the art materials.  A perfect example of this pertains to my patient, Jack, who I alluded to in my last Blog entry.

Jack has been a valued patient for 25 years and has grown increasingly disgusted with his teeth- or should I say, with the way that his teeth look. Jack is a great guy with a sense of humor that keeps him in a perpetual smile- or he would be if he didn’t hide his teeth all the time. Jack’s teeth have become crowded over time and, in an ideal world, he would get braces followed by bleaching and porcelain veneers and he would be a new man. Unfortunately, Jack is not financially stable (similar to many of my patients) so whatever we do will have to be phased over time.

So Jack was in last week for his 6 month cleaning and asked me the usual question- “what can I do to make my smile better without breaking the bank?”. And this time I had a new answer for him-  I suggested that we focus on his front 4 teeth and, because of new materials and techniques, we could be very conservative in making porcelain veneers that would enhance his smile yet blend in with his other teeth. Jack was immediately interested and true to form filled with a lot of questions (what would it look like?, wouldn’t it stand out from the other teeth?, how much tooth would be shaved away?).

As luck would have it, I had a couple of extra minutes so I pulled him to a free operatory and we did one of my favorite procedures, a “mockup”. Think of a mock up as a preview of what’s possible. I used bonding material that matched his tooth shade and roughed out on the teeth the changes I envisioned . Since this is basically making it up as we go along, it taps into creativity and artistry which is what I enjoy about it so much. In Jack’s case, it took about 15 minutes and the result was dramatic! Jack’s reaction was one of amazement and delight- until he remembered that this was just a mock up and that he would have to stick with his “old” smile until we could schedule the actual treatment. I was able to take a digital photograph of his “new” teeth, however,  so that he could show his family how good his new smile will look.

What fun it is to be able to affect a patient’s self image and self esteem by helping them realize a long held dream of a more attractive smile. And that is what makes going to conferences like the AACD meeting so exciting and full of possibilities. I don’t know what new information I will come home with but you can bet that I will be putting it into action next Monday morning. So if you have an appointment in May, make sure and ask me what new stuff we’re doing. It’s always something new and sure to make you say”Wow”!