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HOW-TO Choose a cosmetic dentist

Before you randomly select a dentist out of the phone book or ask your long-time family dentist to change your smile, think again. Great cosmetic dentistry is an art.  Dental expert James Goolnik has advice 

The fact is, many dentists are generalists who simply have not performed cosmetic smile designs many times or with a regularity that leads to mastery of this art. There are increasing numbers of new treatments released all the time, more of which require inter-disciplinary experience and care. Here’s what to look for when choosing a cosmetic dentist:

1. What associations do they below to  The two well- known organisations for cosmetic dentistry are the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Full membership requires that they have proven relevant continuing education and experience in the field of cosmetic/aesthetic dentistry.

2. Do they have a team of specialists? More and more treatment choices offer some orthodontic options and it is much easier if your cosmetic dentists works as part of a team. We can now place ultra-thin veneers such as Durathins that do not require any drilling of your teeth as long as your teeth are in the right positions. With our orthodontist they recline your tooth slightly to allow for these veneers to be placed. It gives a much more conservative natural looking smile.

3. How extensive is the technology they offer? Can they provide extensive examples of their work? Do they offer study models, imaging technology and/or bonding previews when recommending and demonstrating procedure options? Can they provide you with before and after photographs of a wide range of smiles they have done on previous patients (see below)?  Make sure they are the practice’s actual patients and not pictures from brochures – you can even ask to talk to previous patients if you’re unsure.


4. Most cosmetic dentistry involves the dental technician. Often the skill and artistry of the technician is more important than the dentist. Find out how long the dentist has worked with that particular technician? Have they worked on similar cases together before? Will you be able to meet the technician to discuss colour, texture, translucency and shape of your teeth? If you are very lucky, the dentist will have an on-site dental laboratory so you can meet the technician throughout your treatment and the final appointment can allow tweaks while you wait.

Most procedures are not reversible so you will want to make sure you feel comfortable with the dentist and that you feel confident with their skills and capabilities. Cosmetic dentistry should be able to give you a natural long-lasting result without being too invasive.

Expert dentist and best selling health author James Goolnik.
Expert dentist and best selling health author James Goolnik.

James Goolnik is the founder of the award-winning Bow Lane Dental Group clinic in the city of London. James is past president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He qualified from Kings’ College Dental School and went to study his Master’s degree in Conservative Dentistry at the Eastman Dental Institute. He is the author of Brush (Amazon £11.69), a book about innovation in Dentistry. He was voted by his peers as the most influential person in Dentistry in 2011 & 2012. He has taught over 1000 dentists and hygienist on how to safely whiten their patients’ teeth.  Follow James @jamesgoolnik

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