COVID-19 gives cosmetic dentistry a boost

By Melissa Busch, DrBicuspid.com associate editor

April 28, 2021 -- In-person work meetings and events came to a screeching halt during the pandemic, leading most people to turn to videoconferencing platforms to stay connected. Such platforms have pushed them to notice the flaws in their teeth, according to a cosmetic dentist.

Smile makeovers are very popular right now, said Dr. Wynn Okuda, co-founder of the Pan Pacific Dental Academy and owner of a cosmetic dentistry practice in Honolulu.

"It is an interesting phenomenon that patients have realized how bad their teeth have gotten as they see themselves on Zoom calls," Okuda said.

The "Zoom boom," as it has been dubbed by the media, has boosted sectors of the economy dedicated to making people look better, including cosmetic dentistry and plastic surgery. Some suspect that having to rely on facial features instead of complete outfits and accessories to boost their looks has led people to scrutinize their smiles and teeth more intensely.

In addition to those who have grown tired of looking at less-than-perfect teeth, more patients want to regain the dental health and function they may have lost over the years, Okuda said.

"I find that the patients are interested in upgrading their look, wanting to achieve a natural rejuvenation through cosmetic dentistry," he said.

Technology matters

Okuda knows his business, completing more than 2,000 porcelain veneers or bonded porcelain restorations and placing about 200 dental implants annually. He's also up on the best technology to get the best patient outcomes.

He uses an array of products to help create consistent and predictable cosmetic, implant, and restorative results, including semiadjustable articulators and a 3D simulation guide. Intraoral cameras, specifically those with accessories that provide transillumination, are necessary for diagnosing and communicating with patients. However, he said Biolase's Waterlase all-tissue laser is the key to his gum-lifting or sculpting procedures.

"For most of my cosmetic dental cases it's essential to attain esthetic success for my patients," Okuda added. "By doing gingival sculpting, it takes my cosmetic cases to the next level of esthetic excellence."

Finally, GC America's G-aenial Sculpt is his favorite resin for cases that involve hand-sculpted composite veneers. It "creates the most natural results with a high luster surface finish," he said.

The why

With cosmetic dentistry gaining in popularity, Okuda said it is more important than ever to ask patients what they are trying to achieve when they come to a practice. Quantifying a patient's expectations prior to starting a cosmetic dental case is crucial.

Ultimately, their teeth may not be their real concern, he said.

"You'd be surprised that there are unrealistic expectations patients may have in trying to find happiness," Okuda added.


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