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How does health and function relate to the appearance of my smile?

We have all heard the expression that “we can’t fool mother nature”. Does that apply to dentistry and what about porcelain veneers? Don’t they just make teeth look better?  How can they improve the health of my mouth?

Making changes to your smile without considering the impact it has on the health and durability of those changes is like putting up a false storefront without the building. The results can only be predictability disastrous. The teeth exist in an environment that is exposed to extreme temperature changes, caustic and staining chemicals, and hundreds of pounds of force per square inch. If these factors are not well managed, the results will be the introduction of disease (decay or periodontal infection) or fracture and structure failure. If what God has made failed, then what are our expectations of placing glass (ceramic) in such a hostile setting?

The concepts of true esthetics evolved from the principles of health and the potential to endure.  We are attracted to those factors in human esthetics that may be indicators of survivability and this is certainly true in the mouth.  If teeth are worn, broken, discolored or crooked; there is probably a very real reason related to health why the conditions have deteriorated.  Esthetics can therefore only be assumed to be a mirror of the relative health of someone’s smile.  If it is healthy in form and function, then it will probably be visually acceptable and be free of active disease and infection.  Esthetics is the feature of a great smile, but the true benefit is health, function and predictability.

When considering esthetic chances to you smile, it is first important to identify what elements exist that are not desirable.  The next critical step is to identify why these conditions exist before designing solutions.  It is only through proper diagnosis and treatment planning that predictable beautiful results can be achieved.  Modern dentistry is unveiling better techniques and materials everyday.  These advances hold promises of better results and esthetics.  The key point however, is to recognize that failures that are commonly seen in restorative and  cosmetic dentistry are typically the result of failing to diagnosis and plan, not the technique or material used.

So what is the answer?  The solution is to put yourself in the hands of a trained, tenured and credentialed cosmetic/restorative dentist that has the skills and knowledge to create a beautiful, predictable and healthy result.  The solution does not lay in products that are selected off the shelf like veneers or bonding.  These techniques may very well be part of the solution but the primary predictor of success is the synergy of a custom treatment plan that is focused on restoring the health of your smile and your esthetic goals.

Veneers can be a predictable and beautiful technique to enhance someone’s smile, but they need to be utilized only with proper diagnosis and treatment planning.  Dr. Scott Finlay is a Fellow in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and is routinely involved in the comprehensive esthetic and restorative management of many patients’ smiles.  He is also actively involved in mentoring and teaching dentists across the country those techniques that he utilizes to successfully and predictably restore beautiful smiles for his patients.  For more information about his practice near Annapolis, Maryland visit