I’m a little late to this cosmetic dentistry thing, but I am embracing it whole hog. I’m 63 and have always wanted a pretty smile. I have a medium skin tone and narrow face. I’m thinking about getting dental bonding on six teeth as bonding seems less expensive than porcelain veneers. I’m choosing between two cosmetic dentists that are highly rated on YELP, but want to know what I’m talking about when I go to see them. What is the best color for someone my age and skin tone? Looking at some shade guides, I think it may be BL2, so if they darken a little because of my tea drinking it will be okay. Am I on the right track?
It is never too late to have a beautiful smile. I like that you are trying to do your research, but I would like to steer you in a different direction for what you’re researching. There are too many factors in creating a beautiful smile for you to be able to do enough research. In fact, the great cosmetic dentists spend years in post-doctoral study to learn all there is to know. Because of that, I want to suggest researching the dentist and not the technical details of the smile itself. Of course, you may have a style of smile in mind and the dentist can help you with that. Bring pictures, tell him or her what you’re going for, but allow them to do the technical stuff. For instance, on the color you selected. B2. That is a great base color. But here is a small example of what the lab will get to go along with that color in what is known as a color map.
This adds all kinds of tints and opaquers in order to ensure your tooth looks natural and has translucencies in all the right places. Then there is the shaping of the tooth, which is even more complicated. What you need is an expert cosmetic dentist with an artistic eye.
The next question to ask is YELP the best place to find that? I’ll be up front that I use YELP for many things. It’s also great for finding a friendly dentist. That being said, their algorithm does not work for finding a great cosmetic dentist. They base their stars on positive ratings, but those ratings do not differentiate between general and cosmetic work. Because cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized specialty, that makes it even more challenging. Any general dentist can do cosmetic dentistry, regardless of the amount of training they’ve received. Combine that with the fact that doing smile makeovers is not taught in dental school and you can see why there are countless cosmetic dentistry horror stories. So what can patients do to protect themselves?
Finding an Expert Cosmetic Dentist
There are two great resources for patients looking for a highly skilled and artistic cosmetic dentist for their smile makeover. The first is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. While any dentist can be a member, in order to get accredited by them, a dentist has to pass stringent exams as well as present a large number of specific cases they’ve done to be assessed by an examination board. It takes years, but once a dentist is accredited they are in the top 1-2% of cosmetic dentists in the world.
A second resource is mynewsmile.com. Not everyone has an accredited dentist close enough to them for their smile makeover. As I said, it takes years. There are many excellent cosmetic dentists that are on their way to accreditation but are still going through the process. Mynewsmile.com is a website run by an accredited dentist. He screens dentists for their technical training as well as their artistry so patients can know this dentist can give them a stunning smile.
A Quick Word about Dental Bonding
You mentioned wanting to do dental bonding because it is less expensive. It can be. However, it is mostly used for small repairs, like a chipped tooth. It would not work well for large surfaces because all of it has to be done free-hand by the dentist on the spot. It takes even more skill and time and would likely end up costing you just as much. If you factor in that it is made of composite instead of porcelain, it will not will cost even more because it does not last as long. I’m going to suggest you go ahead and get the porcelain veneers. They will last a lifetime when well cared for. The most you’ll get out of composite bonding is a few years before it will have to be redone.