Vying for Those Desirable Cosmetics Patients


Dentists going for the "gold ring" of cosmetic dentistry practice might find the reach may exceed their grasp.

Just about any dental practitioner answers to the title, "Cosmetic Dentist." But placing the C-word on a shingle may not automatically impress today's patients. A barrage of media accounts of vanity healthcare adventures has created a new consumer in dental care that is also well informed via the Internet.

And now that a young, healthy smile is a "must-have" among patients of all ages, this savvy public can more easily detect the "wannabe" from the real thing. So, dentists aiming to attract patients with "smile makeovers" in their eyes better make sure they measure up:

Training, training, training.

Dentists operating at the top of the cosmetic heap continually attend seminars and workshops to remain at the forefront of research, materials and techniques.

"Dentistry has changed more in the last five years than in the last 20 years," says Dr. Daniel Deutsch, at the Washington Center for Dentistry, in Washington, DC. "So, we can't get away with just reading professional journals. It means regular hands-on training with top specialists in the field."

Speaking with authority. A fine cosmetic dentist will speak with honesty, clarity and authority about options to improve a smile. They will be upfront and map out an organized plan of dental services, including phases of treatment, how much time it will take and how much it will cost. These dentists know better than to try to sell a "quick fix." They have respect for the patient and the process.

Good Taste in Smile Design

A dentist needs refined taste and artistry when it comes to teeth, because patients are entrusting them with a critical esthetic responsibility-their smile.

"A smile change is a self-esteem matter," says Dr. Marc Doctors, also of Washington, DC.

And a session to review a smile design outlines the direction the treatment will take. This is the moment patients expect an impressive display of knowledge about the well-engineered smile.

· The Sophisticate These teeth sport evenly aligned edges and usually mark a more mature smile.

· The Celebrity The prominent central front teeth are longer than their next-door neighbors and convey a "sexy" image of youth, warmth and vigor.

· The Sport This design falls between mature and sexy, with central front teeth still somewhat longer and prominent than the lateral neighbors, but it is softer, connoting health more than age or youth.

· Skin tone, lips, height and body type determine which features should go into a smile.

· Computer imaging or mockup materials and photos are used to give an idea of a result.


There's nothing like experience to help convince patients that they are in good hands in their quest for a new smile. Good cosmetic dentists doing a lot of successful cosmetic dentistry ooze experience when they talk.

"While every smile is different, every smile design covers similar territory," says Washington Center for Dentistry's Dr. Bernard Lynch,

Photos are everything

Fine cosmetic dentists will pull out books of photos showing before-and-after images of their own work. These photos easily provide the chance to see other patients with similar problems and their results.


And of course a dentist needs endorsements to demonstrate that others have been happy with their work. Many docs have books of letters from former patients.

With a lovely office to match

It's the image thing here. A good cosmetic dentist provides a refined environment for patients. The psychology at work is that an immaculate, well-designed office enhances the image of the dentist's taste in teeth.

Look the part

And the cosmetic docs also take seriously the importance of their own meticulous physical image. Immaculate grooming speaks volumes about the care doctors will take with their work. Today's cosmetic dentists have their work cut out for them. The bar is set high. And with keen competition for patients, dentists should prepare to always aim high and reach for that "gold ring."


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