Many patients want cosmetic dentistry, but there are many barriers to making it happen. Here are just a few.
- Skill of the Doctor –Is this doctor good enough to trust with how I look? This is a completely fair question. Cosmetic dentistry isn’t a recognized specialty in the field of dentistry. There’s really no great way to find out if a dentist is prepared enough and skilled enough to handle a cosmetic case to a patient’s particular satisfaction. If a dentist puts “cosmetic dentistry” on their sign or website, it doesn’t tell you much. Trust and not knowing what your dentist is capable of are major barriers to a patient seeking cosmetic treatment.
- Cost –From a money perspective and a time perspective, cosmetic dentistry is often quite a commitment, especially when it is done well. Especially when a patient’s cosmetic concerns are complex, the journey is often longer than most patients anticipate. Oftentimes, a “quick fix” with many compromises doesn’t satisfy the patient or the doctor.
- Fear –Certainly there are patients that are afraid of anesthesia or even just sitting in the dental chair, but fear of the unknown is a big barrier in cosmetic dentistry. What will this look like in the end? Will it be worth it?
Historically in dentistry, dentists like myself that have proposed cosmetic dental treatment plans to patients have relied on a few techniques.
- Showing Photos –When I’m discussing cosmetic dental options with patients, I often show patients photos of a case that I have done that is similar to what they are looking for. I’ve accumulated a large photo collection of cosmetic cases that I have done myself, and I feel like it builds trust and confidence when I show patients my work that is something similar to what they are looking for. Let’s face it, though: that’s ok, but it certainly isn’t great.
- Wax Up – Making models of a patient’s teeth and then adding wax to the models is called a “wax up”. This is one of the first things dentists learn how to do, so naturally dentists find it to be a great go to method to show patients what their teeth will look like if they pursue cosmetic dentistry. Dentists love it! Patients might like it, but still, it’s just ok. There’s a huge disconnect with these techniques. Dentists can envision the final result, because we live in this world, but patients can’t. A wax up might look good sitting on the counter top, but what will those pretty teeth look like in my face?!
Digital Smile Design is the technology that can break down all of these barriers. One of the many benefits of this technology is that it allows patients to see what cosmetic dentistry will look like in their mouth and with their face before they commit to anything. There’s no imagination necessary, the final result can be simulated before anything is started!
Here’s how it works. Models and photos are taken of a patient that is interested in cosmetic dentistry. These records are sent to a special laboratory that creates your new smile in a computer program. From that computer design, a computer mills an “overlay”, which is basically a prototype of how your smile could look. This overlay is tried in and photos are taken. The patient can view these photos and from there decide if they are ready to commit to cosmetic dentistry.
With the end result in mind, patients feel more confident in their decision and doctors have the perfect road map. The patient, the lab technician, the dentist, and any dental specialists involved in the case can all speak the same language and refer to the final result during the entire course of treatment.
There are so many benefits to incorporating Digital Smile Design into the cosmetic dentistry planning, it truly breaks down so many barriers. When the patient and doctor agree on the plan and how to get there, time and money can be saved. The financial commitment for large cosmetic cases can still be high, but patients feel better about making an investment in their dental health and appearance when they truly know what they are getting. Knowing what the end result will look like sure alleviates a lot of fear, too!
If you’re in San Antonio and have more questions about Digital Smile Design, stop by and we can chat more about it!