What are esthetic zone ratios? How do you use them to help patients?
Esthetic zone ratios give dentists a systematic way to evaluate and change the appearance of a patient’s teeth. We are all individuals, and our smile needs to reflect who we are and fit within the frame of our facial features. [For instance], our front teeth look their most attractive when they are in a certain size range, and when the width compared to the length creates a specific proportion. Esthetic zone ratios allow us to use these “most attractive” aesthetic standards to evaluate a smile and plan changes.
Have you ever had any unusual cosmetic requests?
Yes and no. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and each patient gets to decide what they want their smile to look like and what they find most attractive. Often patients want something for their smile that I wouldn’t want for mine, and that’s OK. For example, I have a patient that is a “body artist,” and he saw his teeth as part of a whole piece of art that covered his body, which led him to make an unusual and somewhat radical cosmetic choice.
Which celebrities’ teeth are the most coveted?
Most dentists remember celebrities whose teeth aren’t perfect, and whose smile that they would love the chance to improve. We also notice and remember when celebrities have their teeth changed. A classic example is when Tom Cruise had his teeth treated right after Risky Business.
You mention learning about toothpaste abrasiveness in your blog. What should brushers be aware of? Any brand you’d recommend, or one to steer clear of?
The more abrasive a toothpaste, the more damage it can do to the surface of your natural teeth or any fillings, crowns or veneers. I personally use Sensodyne True White, one of a small number of non-abrasive whitening toothpastes. It has fluoride to prevent cavities and also manages cold sensitivity.
Did your three children get visits from the tooth fairy?
Absolutely. The tooth fairy is a special part of being a kid, and believing in magic. It is also special for parents. My husband and I used to plan who would stay up and play the tooth fairy. We also tried to make it special by leaving silver dollars instead of paper money. As a dentist, the tooth fairy can be a fun way to engage small children in thinking about their teeth positively and knowing that the new set has to last their whole lifetime.
Who is your favorite pop-culture dentist?
I didn’t decide to be a dentist until I was a sophomore in college, but I grew up in dentistry, as my father was a laboratory technician. As a kid watching Rudolph [the Red-Nosed Reindeer], I just thought it was neat that Hermey liked dentistry, and so did my dad.
What’s the funniest thing a patient has said to you on nitrous oxide?
My husband is an advanced technical scuba diver with extensive deep diving experience. He claims nitrous oxide feels just like nitrogen narcosis, which divers experience while diving deep and breathing regular compressed air. While he is on nitrous, he will tell me what “depth” he is at and how deep he’d like to go.