All cars, houses and people aren't the same, and neither are porcelain veneers and smile makeovers. For those considering cosmetic dentistry with porcelain veneers you should be aware of this. But how many different ways and how does one choose the best design and shape for their face and smile?
There are approximately 25 different shades (colors), three different surface textures (how the light reflects off of the front of the porcelain veneers), several different porcelain types which each has different translucencies (ability of the light to pass through the veneer to render a “life-like” appearance), several different lengths that each veneer/tooth could be made and at least 60 different documented smile styles. Do the math and you’ll note that there are probably 30,000 different ways that your cosmetic dentist could create your new smile. This can be pretty confusing. So how do you know you’re getting the best combination for your face and smile?
Mrs. U.S.-Globe Jill Frick and her “Enhanced” smile style with ten porcelain veneers by Dr. Huefner.
The short answer is for you and your cosmetic dentist to communicate on a very high level so that your expectations can be met. Your cosmetic dentist wants your input because he/she certainly wants you to love your new smile. Success is dependent on the skill, care and judgment of the dentist, but also on the ability of both the patient and dentist to communicate and work together on deciding key issues.
This article concentrates on one of the huge variables that there is, choosing the smile style. Most cosmetic dentists will involve the patient in this selection process, but offering input and suggestions to help guide the patient in the selection based on the shape of the face, age, personality type and other factors. There are three commonly used “smile guides” that cosmetic dentists have available to them to show patients. Dr. William Dickerson’s “LVI Smile Library” (12 different styles), Dr. Loren Berland’s “Loren Library” (18 different styles) and Dr. William Dorfman’s “The Smile Guide” (36 different styles). One question a patient might ask their cosmetic dentist is which smile guide does he use and specifically what smile style does he recommend? If the dentist is experienced in cosmetic dentistry you should be able to see one of these guides and the cosmetic dentist should discuss by name a smile style that he/she advises using. There are different acceptable variations in shape that each porcelain veneer can be made. For example, the four front teeth (incisors) could be either square at the corners, square at one corner and rounded at the other, or rounded at both corners. Similarly, the cuspids or eye teeth (third tooth back) could be pointed, rounded or flat. Combining these different shapes each produces significantly different smile styles. Here are three examples from the Loren Library:
The design above is round, round, pointed. It is very youthful and oftentimes used when the patient has a very round face.
The above is a design quite the opposite, square, square, flat. It is a much older and oftentimes much more masculine smile style.
This one is in between the first two, being square, square-round, round, and is a very popular design.
Here are two popular smile styles from the Dickerson “LVI Smile Library”:
This is the “Enhanced” smile style, very popular with many of the beauty pageant contestants that I’ve created porcelain veneers for over the years. Note that the second teeth from the center are a little shorter than the front teeth. This is a youthful effect we call “the gull wing” that really looks nice on females. See first photo in this article with of Mrs. U.S.-Globe and the “Enhanced” smile style I used with her 10 porcelain veneers.
The “Hollywood” style above is a little more “toothy” and works well for males and especially those wanting to show off a little more teeth.
It is important that both the patient and cosmetic dentist be aware of the differences in tooth shapes and smile styles and have active communication between each other in choosing the best smile style for the patient’s new porcelain veneers.
Dr. Norman Huefner, General and Cosmetic Dentistry, Laguna Niguel, CA