Smile Makeover

There are several ways to do a smile makeover. We’ll explain them here.

The most common is with porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are applied to the fronts of front teeth. To do them right, a cosmetic dentist will probably shave a small amount of enamel from the fronts of your teeth and then bond on the porcelain with special bonding techniques that holds it so tightly, it almost becomes like an integral part of your tooth.

A Smile Makeover Would Help

A survey taken by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry several years ago reveals that, while people think a great smile is important, half feel their own smile could use some work.

ACCD smile makeover survey

A Smile Makeover Is Art

One mistake people make is going to their family dentist or the dentist down the street for this type of work. In reality, only a small percentage of dentists are artistic enough to create a beautiful smile design. You need to understand that dentists tend to be technician-types. They chose dentistry as a profession because they like to fix things. And that is what they’re taught in dental school. You break a tooth—a dentist fixes it.

To do a beautiful smile makeover, a dentist needs a passion for beauty and a personality that loves to create things of beauty. Only 1% or 2% of dentists have this artistic inclination. Those that do will pursue additional training after dental school to learn the skills necessary to create smiles – special bonding techniques, training in color manipulation, an understanding of the special materials that are used in this highly specialized area of dentistry.

And to make things more difficult for the consumer, cosmetic dentistry isn’t a legally separate specialty. The view of the majority of dentists is that a smile makeover isn’t a big deal and doesn’t require special training. But it is and it does. Our advice: consult our find a cosmetic dentist section for a list of dentists who are artistic and have the extensive additional training to do this well.

Below is an example of a smile makeover done by an expert cosmetic dentist in our referral network, Dr. Ross Headley of Overland Park, Kansas. We estimate that 98 to 99 percent of dentists lack the artistic sensitivity and the training required to create a beautiful smile like this.

Megan Before Picture

Megan's before picture

Megan has small, uneven teeth and a timid smile, but she has aspirations of being a beauty queen and a model. She decided to go to mynewsmile network dentist Dr. Ross Headley of Overland Park, Kansas, for a smile makeover.

Megan After Picture

Megan's smile makover after picture

A beautiful smile makeover with porcelain veneers brings confidence to her smile, and is the foundation of a complete beauty makeover. Megan went on to become Miss Arkansas Teen 2010, and has launched a successful modeling career.

Smile Makeover Options

Here are different cosmetic dentistry techniques that can be used to give you a smile makeover:

  • Porcelain veneers, as explained above, is the most common method. A small amount of tooth structure is shaved from the front of your teeth, and then beautiful porcelain veneers are bonded to them, creating the shape, color, and alignment of teeth that you desire.
  • Lumineers are a brand of porcelain veneers that are advertised heavily. They are promoted as not requiring any tooth reduction beforehand. However, other brands of porcelain veneers can also be placed without any tooth reduction. Lumineers are a tiny bit thinner than other brands: 0.3 millimeter instead of 0.5, so they do lend themselves more easily to a no-preparation technique. But many Lumineers are also placed on prepared teeth. Read our Lumineers page for a full discussion of the pros and cons of this method.
  • Tooth whitening can be used just to lighten the teeth – if you’re happy with their shape and position. You may also want to read about Laser whitening.
  • Invisalign is another smile makeover technique. With invisible braces, your teeth can be made straight. Many people combine this treatment with tooth whitening for a complete smile makeover.
  • Some people want to have dental bonding used to create a new smile. While this can be cheaper than porcelain veneers, when dental bonding is used over a large area, it only looks good for a year or two. Compared to porcelain veneers, that can look good for ten or twenty years, dental bonding ends up being very expensive.

Read about DaVinci veneers.

By Dr. David Hall