Smile Design (Part 3)

“What is smile design?  How can it help me?”

In a previous post “Smile Design (Part 1)”, I presented the concept of “Smile Design”, and in the last post “Smile Design (Part 2)” I illustrated a few examples of some of the principles I always evaluate in assessing a smile and considering enhancements that can be made.

“Necessity: the Mother of Invention”

Studying cosmetic dental principles over two decades ago was somewhat frustrating.  I found that most lectures, articles, and presentations described recognition and diagnosis (similar to “Smile Design (Part 2)”—not design.  Knowing a list of principles is one thing.  Developing a plan that keeps them all simultaneously balanced in harmony is quite another.

In 1995, I developed a planning technique to solve this problem.  By drawing on Smile Design Blog 3- Techniquesuperimposed pieces of tracing paper, the existing dental appearance could be compared to an ideal arrangement to determine not only what alterations are required but also what procedures would be needed to create it.  Just as an architect’s blueprint design is crucial to envision and then create a building, the Smile Design drawing technique is indispensable to plan and then create an exquisite smile.

Let me show you how it works…

A Blueprint for Success

A series of initial photographs are captured to show the current arrangement and Smile Design Blog 3-Treatment Blueprint Cappearance of the smile.  (See the top image to the right.)

The existing tooth contours are outlined on the one piece of tracing paper.  (See the light gray lines in the middle image to the right.)  A second overlying piece of tracing paper is used to create a framework that would establish Smile Design principles proportionally appropriate for that particular patient.  (See the green, orange, and purple guidelines in the middle image as well.)  A final piece of tracing paper on top is used to design a proposed smile enhancement.  (See the dark gray lines in the middle design image to the right.)

Here are the two keys:  First, by creating a smile blueprint that “fits” the underlying precision framework, the final result will follow all the necessary principles to create a truly beautiful smile.  Second, by comparing the starting contour (light gray) with the desired result (dark gray), a dentist can recommend the best procedures to predictably achieve the results.  (See the actual final treatment cosmetic dentistry results for this patient’s smile makeover in the bottom photograph to the right.)

It has been a privilege and honor to teach dentists all across America how to perform this technique for the last 17 years.

To see additional smile design results achieved on actual patients at Snow Dental Care, be sure to check out the beautiful smiles in our Smile Showcase .


Copyright © 2013  Stephen R. Snow, DDS

Smile Design (Part 2)

“I have never really liked my smile.  I’m not sure what could or even should be done.  How do you figure that out?”

In the previous post “Smile Design (Part 1)”, I introduced the concept of “Smile Design”—purposefully planning, selecting, and coordinating dental procedures in order to craft specific desired esthetic results.  Without this intentional discipline, arbitrary cosmetic dental treatment might not meet your expected goals.

Who is to say what a “perfect” smile actually is?  While it may seem pretty subjective, there is no question that as a society we notice how others respond to what they see.  We can’t help but learn what is more accepted, popular, and attractive. Although “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, eventually we form a predictable consensus of what beautiful is—even for smiles.

Recipe for an Ideal Smile

After comparing and analyzing smiles that virtually everyone agrees are dazzling, dentists have noticed a common list of features that repeatedly contributed to create esthetic impact.   Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Other than gazing in the mirror, you’re probably not accustomed to staring close up at Smile Design Blog 2-Principles Ideal Canyone’s smile except our own.  If you take a moment to check out the smile at the right, however, you’ll notice several essential principles of Smile Design.  For example, the imaginary line that connects the edges and tips of the upper teeth forms a gentle curve that generally follows the arc of the lower lip.  The lateral incisors (right next to the two central teeth) are just a little shorter—a sign of a “youthful” smile.  The “esthetic zone” within the lips is filled mostly with the pleasant appearance of teeth.   The visible gum tissue is limited to the small tips between the teeth.

We often use lip retractors to get a better analytic view of the teeth.  In this retracted view (of the same person), we notice many foundations of good Smile Design.  First and foremost, there is a pleasing symmetry in the contour, color and alignment of the teeth.  They complement each other as a matching set.  The sweep of the gumline around each tooth combines to establish an ideal frame for the arch.  The width vs. height proportions of each tooth are pleasing and balanced—so that the two upper central teeth are subtly and slightly more prominent.

These are just a handful of the dozens of features I look for when I evaluate the appearance of a smile.

Leaving Something to Be Desired

Once you understand and recognize the Smile Design components in a great looking Smile Design Blog 2-Principles Violation Csmile, it is easy to see when they are missing.    For comparison, let’s look at identical views for a different individual.  The front smile reveals that the imaginary line that connects the upper teeth is irregular and leans down on the right side of the photograph. A continuous band of gum tissue is readily visible.

Beyond gumline decay, failing fillings and severe tooth wear, the retracted view (of the same person) exposes asymmetry, darker tooth coloration, and crowded alignment.  The irregular frame of gum tissue accentuates the haphazard proportions of the teeth—as though they are not a matching set at all.

So how does Smile Design utilized to transform a smile from “unattractive” to “stunning”?  Join me in our next post, “Smile Design (Part 3)”, to find out.

Copyright © 2013  Stephen R. Snow, DDS