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You Are Not "Superficial" for Wanting a Better Smile

Posted Jun 01 2009 10:33pm
A few weeks ago someone posted to me on Twitte r that cosmetic dentistry is for people who are "superficial."

And just recently, someone posted on another dental blog that the rise in cosmetic dentistry is "due to baby boomers concerned about their looks as they age."

These types of comments always get me steamed . . . and not because I'm a dentist but because the people making them are completely uninformed.

Unfortunately, the name for what I do is called "cosmetic dentistry." The key word in this phrase is "cosmetic" and it's the same word used in "cosmetic surgery" -- which generally connotes elective procedures designed to enhance people's looks (i.e. liposuction, nose jobs, etc.).

And because of this use of the word "cosmetic," insurance does not pay for many "cosmetic" dentistry procedures, even though these procedures often restore function to the mouth, jaw, etc.

As a cosmetic dentist, much of what I do is much more than simply "cosmetic."

Although replacing a patient's missing tooth or teeth enhances his/her smile, replacing teeth also helps the patient chew better, and it stabilizes the surrounding teeth. In other words, the patient receives oral health benefits as well.

Missing a tooth or teeth is akin to missing a finger or toe: sure, you can function, but if you could choose, wouldn't you choose to keep all of your fingers and toes? (I would.)

And would any insurance company say, "We won't pay to replace your missing finger -- that's a cosmetic procedure"?

In my newsletter this month I talk about the various treatment options available to fix gaps between teeth.

One of my patients had lived with his "gapped" teeth since childhood. Not only did they look bad, but he also had poor bite and a missing tooth.

Using all porcelain crowns and a bridge, I gave him a beautiful new smile.

When patients see their new smiles, they are often overcome with emotion. Sometimes they even cry.

They've been living with gapped, stained, broken, chipping or missing teeth for years. Yet they hear that wanting to get their teeth fixed is "vain." Only "superficial" people want straight white teeth.

Now they have a beautiful smile -- and the change to their self-esteem is tremendous. They can now smile without having to worry about how their teeth look.

And this where the miracle happens -- the miracle I see frequently in my practice: my patients' lives become transformed.

They feel better about themselves . . . and they have a healthier smile, too.
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