A Smile is a Language Even a Baby Understands

May 2007

By: Dr. Scott R. Harden

Cosmetic makeovers have received much notoriety in magazines, the news, dramas like “Nip and Tuck”, and educational programs like “The Discovery Channel”, on which I had the privilege of just being featured in April. Makeovers involve the expertise of many professionals: plastic surgeons, makeup artists, hair stylists, personal trainers, and cosmetic dentists. In a conversation with a friend that specializes in facial plastic surgery, despite all the amazing procedures he performs, he reveres a patient’s smile makeover through cosmetic dentistry as the most impacting change in a person’s appearance. His wonderful compliment greatly raised my appreciation for my role in helping patients achieve their best cosmetic result. Simply stated, “a new smile allows a person to look and feel their best and always adds to your appearance”.

People’s fascination with cosmetic makeovers is all around us every day. Just a few days ago, while at the baseball park, I was approached by a fellow dad who wanted to know how to improve his smile. You no longer have to be a celebrity or Hollywood movie star to receive a new attractive smile. From 18 to 90, smile enhancements are making their way into the lives of millions of Americans every year. They have become prevalent in society and affordable for almost anyone.

Let’s consider for a moment the significance of having a terrific smile. From a work-related perspective, 92% of people polled in a recent survey, felt strongly their smile directly impacted their careers. They felt their smile directly affected their inter-personal relations with fellow workers, with their clients, and moreover was a reflection of how they represented their company. From a personal perspective, as my father always told me, “you have only one chance to make a great first impression”. A first impression is so important, and much easier to accomplish when supported by the impact of a self-assuring smile.

Smile makeovers result from many different methods to include: whitening, veneers, cosmetic crowns, bonding, implants, and the straightening of teeth with traditional braces and invisible braces. These must all be considered and orchestrated with both scientific and artistic implications.
Cosmetic treatment always represents the pinnacle of patient care whether in medicine as plastic surgery or in dentistry. To achieve optimal and predictable results, cosmetic dentistry demands years of experience, highly integrated technology that is effortless in its use, a phenomenal dental team, and great communication skills between patient-doctor-specialists-staff-lab. A patient should feel comfortable and confident in their dentist and throughout this entire process. Enhanced photographs and diagnostic wax-up models allow patients to see how they look — both before and after. This represents “homework” for the dental office and is important to simulate the anticipated dentistry and communicate realistic expectations to the patient.

A very good friend changed my perspective on cosmetic dentistry nearly two decades ago. A large bushy mustache attempted to cover dark, severely overlapped front teeth and detracted greatly from his appearance. His demeanor was bleak and lacking confidence and there always seemed to be an unnatural barrier when he spoke with people. Following a cosmetic makeover, his confidence soared, his mustache disappeared, and he purchased his own company and has not looked back. Many years later, he now promotes himself with extreme confidence that is very reassuring for me to observe. He later told me that it was the best thing that he did for himself personally and for his business. Establishing immediate rapport with a winning smile is so vital in building relationships.

Many of my patients say that they never smile because of the look of their teeth. They are psychologically self-conscious about their smile and it affects their personality. This is something I appreciate much more with the maturity of over 20 years in dentistry. The transformation a person undergoes following a smile makeover is multifaceted and wonderful to witness.

Studies have shown that 93% of communication between people is non-verbal. Only 7% of what people react to and hear is the content of what is being said, not the actual words. So, whether undergoing communication with family members or prominent people in business, most important is our body language and notably our facial expression. An attractive positive smile helps make people listen to you and respond in a positive way. One of my favorite sayings: “A smile is a language even a baby understands”.

Enjoy Life and Keep Smiling!