Why live-patient courses are essential

2008 10 21 14 53 23 614 Helaine Smith Thumb

Editor's note: Helaine Smith's column, The Mouth Physician, appears regularly on the DrBicuspid.com advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

"A Bridgeport jury has awarded more than $198,000 to a woman who claims her dentist promised her a celebrity smile, but gave her what her attorney called 'horse teeth.' " -- The Associated Press

The media loves stories like this one, which has caught the attention of many people. Although the public is more informed than ever concerning cosmetics, many patients still trust their dentist to deliver quality work.

I do not know any details about this case other than what I read. I do not want to speak out of turn about the named dentist. Instead, I want to use this case as an example to illustrate that you must take proper live-patient courses in order to do cosmetic dentistry successfully.

There are many ingredients to a cosmetic practice, but skill is the most important one. Using a trained ceramist in cosmetics is the second most important.

During the initial cosmetic consult, my trained eye is evaluating the face shape and teeth shape and visualizing what smile design would best enhance the patient. I am also actively listening to what the patient wants, and a "Hollywood smile" is not enough detail for me. What does that mean to the patient? Does it mean what I think it does?

All of this must be understood in order to tell the ceramists what the smile design will be. Study models are examined, and a diagnostic wax-up to proper golden proportion is preformed. If I sense any hesitation from the patient, a simple way to show the patient the final results is accomplished by laying over their existing teeth acrylic from a stent of the wax-up. This will show them what the teeth will be like in their mouth. Before I pick up my headpiece, I know where I am going with the case. It is not guess work.

Cosmetics is more than prepping teeth and bonding veneers. Here again, the expression "You do not know what you do not know" applies. I urge you to learn more and take a comprehensive cosmetic course at one of the leading institutions in the country. To be the best, you need to learn from the best, with a live-patient hands-on course.

The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and the Rosenthal Institute offer curriculums like this. It is a big commitment of time and money to travel to one of these places, but you owe it to your patients if you claim you are proficient in cosmetics.

Patients are very educated today, thanks to the Internet, and in order to have a competitive advantage, you need be well-trained. I encourage all dentists in the new year to make a commitment to being better at what they do, whether it is general dentistry, a specialty, or cosmetics. Please be the best and strive to be a mouth physician at all times.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2008 DrBicuspid.com

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