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Taking Anxiety Out of a Dental Visit is Something to Smile About

This is not your father’s dental office.

Within the last decade, the cosmetic dentistry profession has evolved at great speed.

At our office, art and science have merged to deliver a complete care package.  We don’t just fix broken crowns or do root canals – we enhance a person’s lifestyle and well-being.  Procedures range from simple teeth bleaching to porcelain veneers to complex full-mouth reconstruction.  They address a patient’s desire to close gaps or straighten teeth, have a brighter smile, replace missing teeth or aged restorations, or have a more youthful, natural or elegant looking smile.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A HEALTHY AND ATTRACTIVE SMILE

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), virtually all Americans (99.7 percent) believe a smile is an important social asset, while 96 percent of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex.  Three-quarters (74 percent) of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chances for career success.

The demand for cosmetic dentistry has increased as the public becomes more educated about the power of healthy teeth and an attractive smile.  Within the last five years, teeth bleaching procedures have increased 300 percent and porcelain veneer procedures have increased 250 percent.

It is of the utmost importance to my staff and me to be at the forefront of this evolution, and to help transform the way people perceive the dental profession.

IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE DENTAL EXPERIENCE FOR PATIENTS

After some pretty horrifying experiences at the dentist’s office as a child – I can remember one instance where I actually ran and hid in terror – I decided in the seventh grade that I wanted to become a new kind of dentist.  I was determined to heal the anxiety and fear many people associate with dental work.

And, I have always had a love for art.  Several years into my dental career I realized there is a connection between art and dentistry.  Cosmetic Dentistry has been a natural fit for me in blending my two interests.

Over the next several years, we began exploring ways to further improve the dental experience.  As stated in a Wall Street Journal article, we helped to pioneer the Spa Dentistry concept which has become a popular trend throughout the world.  The Dental Day Spa helps those with high dental anxiety to have dentistry done in a safe and comfortable environment.  We pamper patients with massage therapy, aroma- and audio-therapy, aesthetician services, movies during dental treatment, catered lunches, computer access to the Internet and e-mail, even limousine service, to create a “WOW” experience.  The concept is becoming more popular today as practitioners realize the patient’s need to relax and feel comfortable while having dental procedures.

PATIENTS ALSO BENEFIT FROM STATE-OF-THE-ART DENTAL TECHNOLOGY

However, it’s also extremely important that we focus daily on maintaining the highest credentials, education and training possible.  As the dental profession grows, this should be Priority #1 for anyone seeking cosmetic dentistry services as well.  I am proud to be the first AACD Board Accredited cosmetic dentist on Oahu.  I spend a significant amount of time lecturing for dental associations and universities nationally and around the world (in Japan, Australia and Singapore, among others), and writing articles for dental trade publications to continue to share my knowledge with other dental professionals.

Not only does this help others in the field, but it helps us to keep our practice at the forefront of global technology, letting us employ world-class knowledge right here in Honolulu (for instance, we unveiled some of the latest technology from Australia).  Maintaining a global network has also allowed me to influence product development.  As an example, we worked with a manufacturer in Japan to develop bleach specifically for sensitive teeth, making the popular procedure available to many more people.

Like any profession, the cosmetic dental industry faces challenges.  One challenge is the word “cosmetic.”  It can mistakenly imply “all fluff and no substance.”  In actuality, people are either born with or acquire cosmetic dental problems as they go through life, and many of these problems are serious enough to affect health, bite, mouth comfort or self-esteem.  That in turn can interfere with career success, relationships and enjoyment of life.

In consideration of this challenge, it may be more accurate to use the terms “dental rejuvenation” or “restorative dentistry.”  With the tremendous technology employed in cosmetic dental procedures, facial rejuvenation can be achieved in making a person look 10 years younger in as little as two visits.  The end result to cosmetic dentistry, when done correctly, can be extremely natural and long lasting.  We balance health, science, function and esthetics, treating the whole patient so they can live their best life.  I believe this is a good formula for long-term success.

STRIVING FOR EXCELLENT QUALITY DENTISTRY WHILE PROVIDING A POSITIVE DENTAL EXPERIENCE

Every day I’m thrilled by the feedback my patients give us, which further inspires me to strive for excellent quality dentistry while creating a positive experience for patients.  We’ve had patients who haven’t been to a dentist in decades because of their anxiety, and we’ve been able to successfully and comfortably treat them, changing their whole outlook on dental care.  Just recently after a procedure, I asked a patient how it went for her.  She was so comfortable she had fallen asleep!  That’s really validating for me.

I have a vested interest in maintaining impeccable standards in cosmetic dentistry.  One of the most effective tools is public education.  The more people know, the better equipped they are to seek out and demand excellence.  I advise anyone interested in having cosmetic dental work done to first ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations.  Research credentials and accreditation online.  Make an appointment for a consultation before any work is done.  Look at Before and After photos of work personally done by the dentist.

This sets the stage for Patient and Dentist to work together for the best possible results.  That’s the essence of good dentistry.