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Hi-tech Dentistry: Seeing is Believing When it Comes to a Smile Makeover

You know that saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? It’s true, isn’t it? Someone can tell you something, and you may or may not believe it. But when you actually see it for yourself, you have substantial information to judge for yourself, which is totally different. You can see, know and understand. There are several types of hi-tech dental equipment that allow both the dentist and patient to look together at a photo to see either what is or what it can be.

The Cosmetic Imager can show you photos of a simulated smile and the Intraoral Camera can show you photos of what’s happening in your mouth. These are two great tools in planning your smile makeover.

Cosmetic Imager – Plan that Bright New Smile!

The Cosmetic Imager is a computer system that shows you what you could look like if your current smile is replaced with a smile enhanced by cosmetic dentistry. First, a photo is taken of your face then placed on a computer screen. Next, crooked teeth are straightened, short square teeth are made longer, stained or yellow teeth are brightened – all without needing to even open your mouth. The final result is a simulated photo of what your smile would be like with an enhanced smile. You’re then able to discuss further your new smile with your cosmetic dentist, and give feedback on the smile they envision for you.

I suppose the program works similarly to the computer program which lets you pick different hairstyles and hair color to try, without having to clip one strand. Some people may be able to imagine what they would look like with a different hairstyle or a new smile. But some people need a little visual assistance, looking at themselves in a third person, objective viewing, to feel more sure of the overall effect.

But a word of caution: Because of computer technology being what it is, I know many of you have the ability to cut out a celebrity’s smile from a photo, paste it on your face, then print out a photo of you with that pseudo smile. Just because you can create that photo doesn’t mean that’s the best smile that truly enhances your features. There are various subtle and overt aspects that make up a person’s smile. Everything from face shape and bone structure, to lips and the way the muscles pull up your smile, and then there’s teeth shape, size, color and proportion. What looks dazzling on Julia Roberts or charismatic on Tom Cruise may look disproportionate on you. Everyone’s smile is and should be unique.

But the photo of a celebrity (or anyone) whose smile you like can serve one main purpose. It can be a good starting point for analyzing your own smile. For some reason you are attracted to that smile. Think about what you like about that person’s smile, and think about what you don’t like about your smile. Do you like the way their smile completely fills their smile zone (what’s revealed when the lips are pulled back in a natural smile)? Maybe you like the shapes of their teeth, whether elegant or sporty or masculine.

Sorry, if it’s the dimples or lip shape you like I have to be honest, a cosmetic dentist would then have limited solutions. However, armed with this analysis of your smile and what you want is a great starting point when you first step into your dentist’s office.

Intraoral Camera – Helps You Keep Your Smile Bright

The Intraoral Camera System also has a camera and computer program but it takes actual photos within your mouth. These photos give patients a rare, clear and up-close look into their mouth, of as small an area as a few teeth. Normally, you’d have to look at your teeth through a mirror or two, and because of the small size, it’s difficult to see fine details or the back areas very clearly. These photos help you to understand situations that may be happening within your mouth, such as a broken or fractured tooth or restoration.

For example, let’s say the hygienist says you need to floss more carefully on the backsides of your lower front teeth. It’s one thing to imagine what it looks like, and the symptoms you’re trying to eliminate. But let’s say she shows you a photo of the redness and puffiness of that area. Then it’s clear to see the effect of not flossing conscientiously, and the signs of gum disease you’re wanting to avoid.

In addition, the intraoral photos assist in dental claims approval, as it gives the dental insurance company more information on which to base their decision. The dental office also uses these photos as part of the comprehensive record keeping of your dental health.

The Cosmetic Imager and the Intraoral Camera lead to dental appointments that provide more information and improve communication. You’re able to more clearly comprehend a situation, and therefore be able to ask targeted, meaningful questions, and thereby make better decisions for yourself. In the big picture that means optimal dental health and a more positive experience for patients, which is always something to smile about.

Dr. Wynn Okuda is an award winning international leader in cosmetic dentistry. He is one of only 280 dentists in the world to be accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Dr. Okuda turned the dental profession on its head nearly a decade ago, replacing pain, fear, & discomfort with the Dental Day Spa system. His offices for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry are located in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Dr. Okuda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, American Spa, Shape Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Health & Fitness Sports Magazine, New Woman, and dozens more!

Dr. Okuda is the founder of “Give Back A Smile,” a charitable foundation of the AACD which helps survivors of domestic violence throughout the nation to restore their smiles and lives. He has assembled nearly 1,000 cosmetic dentists nationwide to help fight against domestic violence.