Have you ever been scrolling through social media and happened upon the website highlighting the people of the large, discount, big-box store we are all familiar with? You know, where fashion disasters meet Aqua Net hair experimentation.
If you haven’t and you are feeling down, need an ego boost, or just happen to be at home on COVID quarantine with an urge to people watch, then let your fingers do the walking and check out the site’s crazy examples of humanity. You will soon put yourself right again.
Taking that a step further, perhaps there should also be a website for the vehicles of this same retail giant! If you find yourself in a position where you must take yourself physically to one of these stores, not only are the people rather exciting, but so are their vehicles!
Camo-wrapped Buicks with spinner rims, after-market stick-on adhesive hood scoops, fifty shades of red paint from a spray can, and the crown jewel of them all, the Chrysler 300 with the oversized faux Bentley grille and trim pieces … YESSSSS! Vrrrooom, vrrrooom, baby!
This whole parking lot experience reminds me of cosmetic dentistry. Some of you may be more into ground effects and gold rims. And the rest of us just want the inside to be immaculate with a perfectly polished paint job.
When it comes to smiles, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Luckily, having your ideal smile is completely achievable. But there are certain guidelines to consider if you are looking to improve your appearance or correct imperfections caused by your genetics, eating habits, prior injuries, or hygiene.
The smile that makes you happy is the right smile for you. The perfect teeth shape is a matter of opinion, and it varies. There is no right or wrong.
While tooth whitening treatments can improve the color and treat discoloration of teeth from red wine, coffee, smoking, and colas, nothing is quite as effective as porcelain veneers.
Teeth are similarly comprised of the same materials as our bones, and dentists approach your teeth as an extension of your skeletal system. This means that not all teeth are the same.
Just like some people have strong, healthy bones and others are more prone to injury, teeth come in all manner of color and consistency, and shape. Just like your bones, teeth can be injured or sustain wear over time.
Porcelain veneers can address many issues keeping you from having the perfect smile, such as discoloration, defects, alignment, and shape. Unlike braces, veneers don’t require years of painful treatment; the results are immediate.
Veneers are constructed from ADA-approved porcelain that can withstand bite pressure, chewing, cutting, and masticating even the toughest foods. They are also capable of withstanding the corrosive/acidic environment of the mouth, which is the first step in digestion.
But don’t think you can treat your dentist’s office like a plastic surgeon and say, “I want The Duchess of Cambridge’s nose,” (which happens to be nearly mathematically perfect with a 106-degree tip rotation and is what researchers have found to be the most attractive.)
Teeth are part of your facial structure, which means that you need to consider the size and shape of your teeth and the desired level of whiteness that you would like to achieve.
Veneers are also comprised of varying materials, and your cosmetic dentist will either work with a ceramist lab to fabricate your veneers or make them in-house. Some of the more recognized brands are Da Vinci, Lumineers, Procera, Zirconia, IPS Empress, Feldspathic Porcelain, and IPS E Max.
Each of these products comes in various shades and colors based mainly upon the bleaching category. For example, BL1 is “super white,” while BL4 is three shades darker. But before you demand the BL1, blinding-sunlit smile, bring to mind that Chrysler 300 with the faux Bentley grille. It looked a bit ridiculous because it didn’t match.
You can imagine why most cosmetic dentists recommend that you choose a shade that is no more than two shades lighter than your existing teeth. It is ideal that your veneers look “natural” and not like a goofy Snapchat filter.
Once you and your cosmetic dentist have chosen the ideal color and product for you, you will next need to focus your attention on choosing the shape of your teeth. This is totally subjective.
Shaping of veneers usually concentrates on the six main teeth—two central incisors (left and right), two lateral incisors, and two canines. Teeth can be boxy, square-ish, or rounded at one or both of the corners.
The canines can also be shaped into a gentle arc, a sharp point, or leveled off as a straight edge. The lateral incisors can also be lengthened or shortened relative to the length of the central incisors to give you a more dramatic look.
There are many combinations from which you can choose to construct your new, most perfect mouth. And there are style catalogs/smile libraries where veneers are classified into twelve different styles describing the characteristic smile they wish to portray.
Thoughtful consideration of the different shapes of teeth and their relation to your facial features (as well as your unique personality characteristics) is an important conversation that you need to have with your cosmetic dentist so that you can choose the smile style that will look best on you.
Julie was a singer, actress, a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and a New York Rockette. She worked hard to keep her body in long, lean shape so that her high kicks during performances were always expertly executed in beautiful symmetry with stunning women on the chorus line. She ate foods that would best maintain her shape, but constant dieting, bouts with an eating disorder, caused her nutrition to waiver. Her teeth were damaged from bulimia, and smoking cigarettes (to stay thin) caused significant staining.
As a teenager, she had orthodontia, so her teeth were straight, and most people would have thought that Julie was picture perfect … except …
When Julie was getting her most recent set of headshots, her smile seemed far less appealing to her when compared to the other actors and actresses she was constantly competing against. Julie needed a bright, white, award-winning grin that could be seen from the back of Rockefeller Plaza.
Just whitening her teeth could not give Julie the look that she desired, so Julie opted for porcelain veneers. Like many up-and-comers, Julie was constantly on a budget. Julie opted for the least expensive option that she could afford.
Julie went to her dentist, and in a few hours, she had the gleaming white, stunning smile that she wanted! It was amazing how much more confident she felt. It was worth every penny for a while until several years later when Julie realized that the least expensive option was a mistake.
Porcelain veneers are far more stain-resistant than tooth bondings or white filling material; staining can still be a problem. Julie continued with her limited nutrition diets and smoking to stay thin. The material she chose on her budget began to look as stained as her natural teeth were originally.
Julie was experiencing sensitivity to hot and cold, a side effect if dentin is exposed. Worst of all, it became clear that something went wrong during the bonding procedure; this caused the fit of the veneer to be slightly off. Her once beautiful smile was beginning to decay, and the cement de-bonded and popped off.
Julie’s dentist was not conservative enough in the prepping, removing too much of the tooth. This practice can lead to her tooth sensitivity and other problems down the road.
Considering Julie’s negative experience, many things can be learned about the decision to get porcelain veneers.
- Be sure to choose a dentist that specializes in COSMETIC dentistry. Both general and cosmetic dentists can fill cavities and add bridges, crowns, and veneers. Both can also apply braces and perform other restorative procedures.
A general dentist cares for the basic dental needs of your whole family, while a cosmetic dentist concentrates more on the aesthetics of the patient's smile. Although cosmetic dentistry is not considered a recognized specialty in the world of dental care and profession, it does take years of extensive studies and training to become a cosmetic dentist and perform the procedures available today.
If any friends or members of your family have had good cosmetic dental treatment, ask them for a referral. You can then check out the doctor's website, talk to the office, or even go in for a preliminary consultation. Ask other dental professionals you know whom they would recommend.
Members of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry are offered education and training on the latest procedures, techniques, and products through AACD publications, lectures, and workshops. AACD member professionals stay one step ahead of their peers by keeping informed on trends and learning how the latest products and technology benefit the patient.
- Dental professionals commonly advise routine good oral hygiene practices. Proper oral hygiene practices won't just clean and protect veneers; it also aids in minimizing the risk of developing gum diseases. Thus it ultimately prevents gingivitis and gingival recession that may expose the veneers.
- Nutrition affects your dental health. Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups promotes healthy teeth and gums. A balanced eating plan that includes fruits, vegetables, protein foods, grains, and dairy provides essential nutrients for optimum oral health and overall health.
Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, and fortified soy milk help promote strong teeth and bones. Other sources of calcium include tofu (made with calcium sulfate), canned salmon, almonds, and some dark green leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus, a mineral found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans, is good for strong teeth. Vitamin C promotes gum health, so eat plenty of sources, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.
Which Veneers Are the Best Shape for You?
So, let’s get back to our discussion about how to choose the best veneers for you!
After you have selected your qualified AACD dentist, and with their guidance, you have chosen the best level of whiteness ( 2 shades lighter than your natural teeth) and determined the brand of veneer material that will best achieve the results you are hoping for, the next step is to look through the smile libraries and determine your ideal tooth shape.
According to the LVI Smile Library, porcelain veneers can be classified into twelve different styles describing the characteristic smile they wish to portray:
- Aggressive–square, round central, and lateral incisors with gently curved or semi-straight canines. This is perfect for men as well as women who may want to project a rather strong personality.
- Dominant–square, round central incisors, rounded far corner of lateral incisors, and sharply pointed canines; lateral incisors are chipped a little bit higher than the central incisors.
- Enhanced–slightly rounded edges of both central and lateral incisors with the lateral incisors slightly higher or shorter than the central incisors to give it a gull-wing appearance; canines are bluntly pointed. This style of smile is particularly one of the most popular styles of porcelain veneers chosen by females who wish to compete in beauty pageants and engage in photo-op sessions where a perfectly looking pearly whites is a must.
- Focused–similar to an enhanced style unless the central incisors are square without rounded edges.
- Functional–similar to an enhanced style, except the canines are more pointed.
- Hollywood–similar to an aggressive style but with the lateral incisors slightly offset or shorter from the central incisors. This is one of the most sought-after porcelain veneer styles among males as it provides an excellent show of teeth without being overly aggressive.
- Mature–similar to an aggressive style but with the canines slightly more pointed.
- Natural–similar to an enhanced style but with the canines more aggressively pointed.
- Oval–similar to an aggressive style unless all the incisors and canines take on a more rounded or oval shape.
- Softened–similar to an oval style but with a less pronounced curvature of the edges of the teeth.
- Vigorous–similar to an aggressive style unless the canines are more pronounced, is protruding well into the oral cavity like a fang.
- Youthful–similar to an oval style but with more pronounced and protruding canines like in a vigorous style.
So What’s Up With Shape?
- Teeth that have rounded edges are often considered to be softer and younger, and more feminine.
- Enhanced, Natural, Oval, Softened, and Youthful styles will be excellent choices for women.
- Teeth that are either flat or square-ish are more masculine, aggressive, dominant, and older. This is excellent for men, and Aggressive, Dominant, Hollywood, Mature, and Vigorous styles will be great choices.
- The Functional and Natural Styles of smiles can work well on both men and women in any culture because the styling produces both rounded edges and stronger and sharper lines of the canines.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your smile will light up the room!
- Shape. The more rectangular-shaped teeth are preferred. However, they can't be too rectangular because that makes them look like horse teeth. The edges around the teeth should be rounded and curved.
- Proportions. The two front teeth should be rectangular in shape and not square. Teeth should be taller in height than in width, giving them a rectangular shape. For all you math majors out there, the proportion is 1.0 mm tall: 0.8 mm wide. The two teeth on either side of the front teeth (called lateral incisors) should be smaller and about 80% the width of the two front teeth. The common problem is to have small or peg-shaped lateral incisors.
Edges. Some patients want all of the front teeth to line up in one straight line, but this is not esthetic! The two lateral incisors should be half a millimeter higher than the two front teeth.
The canine teeth should not be too pointy since then people don't like that they look like vampires! The canine teeth should be at the same level as the two front teeth.
The edges of all the teeth should be smooth. Your orthodontist can fix this by a little "manicuring" and smoothing out the edges of the teeth to make them more even.
- Gum line. The gums around the front teeth should be uniform. Sometimes, there are uneven gum lines, and it doesn't look good when a person smiles.
What’s the Deal?
Alright, people. Now you know that if you are not a fan of your teeth shape, veneers can change them. You also know a slew of combinations for your smile … And yet, you may not know which shape is best!
That is okay. Dentists, friends, articles, and random people can make suggestions to you all day long. You can decide what you absolutely don’t want and go from there. As long as you can figure out the shapes, you can’t stand, your cosmetic dentist can help you choose the most beautiful shape.
As I said, there is no right or wrong. The most beautiful shape for teeth is in the eye of the beholder.