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    Why cosmetic dentistry matters to every practice

    From ensuring precise composite color matching to offering in-office teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry can take your practice to the next level.

    Patients judge their dental work by a different set of standards than dentists. Clinicians, obviously, have a laundry list of items by which a restoration can be evaluated, including function, esthetics, fit and countless other elements. Patients, on the other hand, are chiefly concerned how a restoration looks.


    “They can’t really judge the margins” says Dr. Betsy Bakeman, DDS, FAACD, a cosmetic dentist in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “They can’t really judge how well it fits. They pick up the mirror and they look at it. One of the best things they can say is, ‘Which tooth was it?’”

    To that end, cosmetic dentistry is important to every practice. Cosmetic dentistry can include simple things like taking the extra effort to ensure a precise composite color match, or it can be as involved as a full set of maxillary anterior veneers.

    “All dentistry is cosmetic,” says Dr. Jason Watts, DMD, a general dentist in Lithia, Florida. “The only dentistry that is of necessity is an extraction. So, anything we do for a patient, whether it’s a Class V filling or whether it’s a chipped tooth, it’s all cosmetic. So, whether they want to admit they’re doing cosmetic dentistry or not, they really are.”

    No matter how involved the restoration may be, cosmetic dentistry matters to the doctor as well as the patient.

    Related reading: The surprising rewards of cosmetic dentistry

    Benefits abound

    What is the benefit of providing cosmetic services? Is it financial? Professional growth? Service to the patients?

    “It’s all of the above,” says Dr. Tanya DeSanto, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Springfield, Illinois, and board member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. “The driving force is the passion and the energy that you experience by changing someone’s life. People may find it a little bit corny, but it’s very, very life changing. If you change someone’s smile, you’ve changed a life. When you finish a case, people cry. They just can’t believe it. People move on, they get better jobs, they get married, they lose weight, they reinvent themselves. To know that you were the seed behind that, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

    “And everything else comes from that,” she continues. “The financial growth, the personal growth, all of it just happens, all together.”

    “Definitely service to patients,” Dr. Bakeman adds. “That’s huge. It brings a lot of joy to the practice because you make people very happy. It’s a very positive thing; a lot of positive energy is created by providing cosmetic dentistry. Everybody’s happy — the patients are happy, the staff is happy. Doing that kind of work is very joyful.”

    Cosmetic dentistry

    The clinician also gains a sense of personal satisfaction from being such a force of positive change.

    “It’s really personally satisfying, for me, to know that I’ve given somebody the best service possible and to realize an immediate gratification after seeing a job well done,” says Dr. W. John Rowe, Jr., DDS, AACD, a general and cosmetic dentist in Jonesboro, Arkansas. “Of course, it’s financially gratifying, too. That’s natural for any successful business transaction. It’s mutually beneficial for both sides.

    “But, most importantly, it’s cohesive with my practice vision. It’s an exceptional feeling to make a difference in somebody’s life, to make an impact, and to help them achieve their desires. People tend to make snap judgments about each other. Appearance matters, and an attractive smile often contributes to success in social settings. Most people put a really large value on their appearance, so it’s exciting to be able to help people put their best foot forward.”

    While there are altruistic gains, there are, of course, financial benefits too.

    “Elective dentistry often operates with different financial arrangements,” Dr. Bakeman observes. “Often, patients owe money for those services. It’s often done fee-for-service and it’s billed at the time of service. Patients are expected to pay at the time of service, so cash flow can be positive.”

    Dr. DeSanto observes that business naturally increases when doctors offer cosmetic dentistry.

    “The number of patients noticeably increases,” Dr. DeSanto says. “Because when people are happy with their smile, they tell everyone about you. It’s not only helping someone smile, but it’s your best marketing tool. Our practice has grown exclusively on referrals.”

    More from the author: 14 things dentists should look forward to in 2018

    While there are plenty of upsides to offering cosmetic dentistry services, it also requires plenty of effort and attention to detail.

    “It can also be challenging,” Dr. Bakeman explains. “You have to be a bit of a perfectionist. You have to be willing to critique your own work and be willing to send things back to the lab if you’re not completely satisfied, and you have to be your own biggest critic and be comfortable with that. The most important thing is that the result be the best it can be when you finish. Exceeding patients’ expectations is always the goal.”

    Up next: How to keep up with changes in the industry

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...

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