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    4 ways cosmetic dentistry opens doors to new opportunities

    Cosmetic dentistry can have a positive impact on everyone, from you to your patients.

    You are sitting in a lecture, early in your career, seeing amazing restorative dentistry — the implant-supported crown, porcelain restorations or Class IV composite resin shown on the screen blends seamlessly into the surrounding dentition, the tissue architecture and health are ideal and the final smile is drop-dead gorgeous.

    You can barely tell which teeth have been restored and if you hadn’t seen the pre-restorative images firsthand, you might question whether any dentistry had been done at all! You think to yourself, “Those patients have to be thrilled! As a provider, it must feel really good to deliver results that look like that! Might I be capable of providing dentistry to that level?”

    The reality is that anyone with drive and determination can excel in the area of cosmetic dentistry. The opportunities and rewards of excelling in cosmetic dentistry range from improving outcomes for patients, to growing networking opportunities, to enriching one’s sense of purpose, to expanding career boundaries. An initial goal of improving skills can open the doors of opportunity in several directions. 

    Become a better dentist 

    Early on, the motivation is all about acquiring the skill set to be able to provide excellent cosmetic dentistry: improved knowledge in handling and finishing of composite resin, the nuances of photography and shade communication, the artistry of smile design and so on. But that’s just the start — learning to skillfully manage occlusion, seeking out specialists and partnering with laboratory technicians with similar vision, adding and subtracting soft tissue, replacing missing teeth with implants, developing ovate pontic designs, improving communication skills — the list goes on.

    Related article: The top 5 ways cosmetic dentistry can benefit your practice

    It is exciting and invigorating to be a student of the art and science of cosmetic dentistry; there are so many nooks and crannies to explore and master. All disciplines are important for optimizing results, but having the knowledge only gets you so far. One must learn to implement and deliver excellent results. As Thomas Edison said, “The value of an idea comes in the using of it.”

    For many, becoming accredited in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) provides a framework in which improved results must be achieved in order to be successful. Accreditation provides a standard and goal that helps dentists and laboratory technicians achieve a high level of excellence across a broad range of cosmetic solutions. For the authors, accreditation in the AACD was an indispensable part of the journey to becoming a better cosmetic dentist. It is a distinction that patients seeking cosmetic dentistry value and search out — another bonus. 

    With improved knowledge and skill in the area of cosmetic dentistry comes happier patients and more word-of-mouth referrals. Patients are diagnosed more thoroughly when the doctor has learned to appropriately, responsibly and effectively incorporate esthetics with other diagnostic parameters such as functional, biomechanical and periodontal considerations. A comprehensive diagnosis results in more inclusive treatment recommendations and, ultimately, outcomes that are attractive and built to last. The appointment book stays full and the practice is more productive. The confidence of the doctor and the team increases, which in turn increases patients’ comfort levels. 

    Related article: How to jump start your cosmetic dentistry practice

    Imagine a patient comes to your office for the first time with a discolored, chipped front tooth, a problem she has been living with since childhood. Her parents could not afford to repair the tooth. She relates how she was made fun of in her youth. As a result, she has deep emotional trauma that she has carried with her for years. She has sought you out because of your reputation and skill in the area of cosmetic dentistry and the fact you are an accredited member of the AACD. She is trusting you to restore her tooth and her smile. You convey confidence when you describe the treatment options and show before and after images of other patients with similar problems and solutions — and the patient feels comfortable moving forward with treatment as a result. When the treatment is complete, words cannot describe how happy the patient feels. You can see it in her face. You know your journey to excel in the area of cosmetic dentistry was all worthwhile. However, the journey really never ends. As dentists, we are constantly striving to give our patients the very best that dentistry has to offer in all disciplines. That’s what we all want for our patients every day.

    Elizabeth M. Bakeman, DDS, FAACD
    Dr. Bakeman maintains a full-time private practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and teaches as an adjunct faculty member at the Kois ...
    Fred H. Peck, DDS, FAACD
    Dr. Fred Peck is in private practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Peck is an Accredited Fellow of the AACD and a Fellow of the International ...

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