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How Do You Measure a Great Smile?

Is it possible to define objectively those principles universally identified as appealing?

Although esthetics, in the past sense, is a subjective experience open to artistic interpretation, it is first important to establish a universal set of objective, systematic criteria allowing us to measure and guide our evaluation process.

The revised Guide to Accreditation Criteria seeks to provide information about those criteria. This revised Criteria Guide: Contemporary Concepts in Smile Design, to be released in mid-to late 2012, will be equipped with new diagrams, updated photos and a simplified reorganization of the criteria.

The original Criteria Guide was published by the AACD in April 2001. The guide is a potpourri of universally accepted parameters of smile design recognized and vetted over the past several decades. In an effort to remain on the cutting edge of our understanding and mastery of smile design, it is the current charge of the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry (ABCD) to edit and republish a revised update to what has become accepted as the gold standard in dental esthetics. The revised guide will be equipped with the new diagrams, updated photos and a simplified re-organization of the criteria.

The guide begins with the broadest strokes of smile design and the focus progressively narrows to critique the individual characteristics in our attempt to emulate nature. We first introduce the concepts of global esthetics, which focuses on those criteria observed in un-retacted smiles and how the smile orients to the face. As our study continues to narrow, attention is aimed toward the elements of macro esthetics. Macro esthetics identifies the shapes and contours of teeth and their relationship to each other. Our final frame of reference converges on micro esthetics, those criteria related to the subtle intricacies fo shade, textures, and surface effects to make teeth look like teeth. These criteria aid us in fooling the eye and allowing restorations to blend invisibly into the smile.

The revised guide will continue to serve as an educational tool and provide common language in the assessment of smile design. It will provide measurable criteria to aid in our analysis and reasons for failure or success of a smile. The final application of these accepted gold standards will be invaluable, not only for those pursuing Accreditation, but for clinicians and laboratory technicians in creating common ground for interpretation and implementation of excellence in dental esthetics.

Watch the AACD Print Shop for the revised Criteria Guide: Contemporary Concepts in Smile Design!

-The ABCD takes this opportunity to offer special thanks to Dr. Scott Finlay for the countless hours he spent working our new Criteria Guide. His articulate and organized revision will not only be meaningful to our Members in the Accreditation Process (MIPs), but to everyone interested in cosmetic dentistry, for years to come.

Thank you Scott, for this priceless, updated revision!