Scott Finlay, DDS is more than just a cosmetic dentist. He doesn’t just create beautiful smiles, he creates a smile makeover: well planned, comfortable, natural looking smiles that are designed to last a lifetime.
Many cosmetic dental concerns are actually caused by functional problems in the mouth or occlusion (bite). Likewise, cosmetic dental restorations should enhance the patient’s face and look as though they have always been there.
Smile Design is a comprehensive approach to cosmetic dentistry. He uses a four step process for patients who are receiving any type of dental restoration to ensure the best results for the individual.
Smile Design Process
- Step 1 – Comprehensive Evaluation – The first step in smile design is a comprehensive evaluation. Dr. Finlay will perform a physical examination to inspect your teeth, gums, mouth, jaw joints and muscles. He is carefully looking for signs of decay, stress, or instability. Any problems should be corrected prior to having cosmetic dentistry because those same problems are likely to recur if they are simply masked with dental work.For a smile makeover, Dr. Finlay also considers a patient’s facial appearance, including the symmetry of features, size of the lips and mouth, and skin tone and texture to make sure that the cosmetic changes will be natural looking.“When designing a smile if the players on the stage are beautifully shaped teeth, then the curtain that encircles them are the lips and the orientation to the face.” – Scott Finlay, DDSDr. Finlay may take diagnostic x-rays, molds and impressions of the teeth to aid in the next step, treatment planning.
- Step 2 – Treatment Planning – Steps 1 and 2 are critical to the long term success of the treatment. The treatment plan is like a set of blue prints for an architect. First, Dr. Finlay will create a 2-D digital representation of the proposed changes. This allows the patient to see what the smile makeover will “look” like.Having an image that the dentist and patient can see at the same time is very helpful in communication and allows the patient to have input in the final result.The next step is to create a 3-D model to demonstrate and test how the changes will function. Again, changes and adjustments can be made easily in this stage. Up to this point, no actual changes have been made to the patient’s teeth. This allows for a complete understanding of the expectations prior to treatment and the creation of stents and matrices, so when treatment is initiated, it can be accomplished as efficiently and conservatively as possible.
- Step 3 – Preparation and Prototype – Once the planning is complete and both the dentist and patient have agreed on the treatment course, Dr. Finlay will prepare the teeth and mouth for the restoration and create provisionals which will begin to replicate the anticipated results.Dr. Finlay is careful to take the most conservative approach in preparing the teeth. In most cases, a small amount of the natural tooth will need to be removed to allow the dental restoration to fit properly and comfortably.Molds are taken after the teeth have been prepared and then Dr. Finlay applies a prototype, which is a tooth-colored plastic version of the final restoration. Testing the prototypes in the mouth gives the dentist and patient an opportunity to see how the final restoration will function and feel. The patient can in this way “test drive” the new restorations, before they are actually completed.As with steps 1 and 2, adjustments and changes can be made to the prototype to ensure that the final dental restoration will be a “perfect” fit.
- Step 4 – Smile Makeover – The final restoration, whether it is a dental crown, porcelain veneer or dental bridge, will be created at a state-of-the-art dental laboratory to Dr. Finlay’s exact specifications using the 2-D and 3-D modeling as well as molds of the prepared teeth and molds of the prototype.Because of this comprehensive smile design process, the application of the final restoration is not a guess, but a predictable result that feels comfortable, looks natural, and functions optimally. While minor adjustments may be needed, overall, the last step is a very simple and easy visit.
How Long Will It Take?
The timeline for a smile makeover varies from patient to patient, depending on their needs and goals. The process can be as quick as a few weeks for someone with minor changes and functional concerns to a few months for someone who needs intensive treatment.
Do I Need Veneers or Crowns?
Dr. Finlay will choose the dental restoration that is right for you. Through the smile design process, he will evaluate your entire masticatory system to select the restoration that will look the best and provide the right level of protection and durability.
- Porcelain veneers are usually used to cover just the fronts and sides of the teeth, ideal for changing the shape of teeth, closing small spaces, repairing chips, and improving discoloration.
- Dental crowns are used to reinforce a tooth that is damaged by decay or trauma, or a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy.