The Importance of a Smile

April 2007

By: Dr. Scott R. Harden

Concern over cosmetic makeovers is all around us every day. Just yesterday while watching my sons’ travel baseball game, I was approached by a fellow dad who asked me if I had a friend that was a plastic surgeon and could remove the baggy skin from around his eyes. He wanted to follow that up with a smile makeover as well. 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.

Cosmetic makeovers have received much notoriety in magazines, the news, reality television, and dramas like “Nip and Tuck.” Makeovers involve the expertise of many professionals: plastic surgeons, makeup artists, hair stylists, personal trainers, and cosmetic dentists. The importance of a smile makeover through cosmetic dentistry is a major aspect of all of the facial makeover programs. What is involved in a smile change and what are the different methods to accomplish a smile makeover? I will be discussing whitening, veneers, cosmetic crowns, bonding, implants, and the straightening of teeth with traditional braces and invisible braces.

Let’s consider for a minute about the significance of having a terrific smile. “You only have one opportunity to make a great first impression”. First impressions are so important, and a person’s smile is the window to that impression, with either a happy warm positive smile or a sad sheepish withdrawn one. In a recent study 92% of the people polled thought that a person’s smile could affect their careers. I once had an insurance salesman who was trying to sell me disability insurance, but he had one upper front tooth that was obviously a fake, large, dark tooth which stuck outward. It was extremely distracting, especially considering he was speaking to a dentist. It made him seem like a con artist used car salesman (No offense to used car salesman. We dentist have to live with jokes about root canals, but that is for a later article).

He was selling a good product and something I needed, but I could not concentrate on what he was saying. I did buy the insurance and luckily I did after my last year’s experience with cancer. I also restored the natural beauty of his smile with crowns and veneers. He later told me that it was the best thing that he had ever done for his business. Establishing immediate rapport with a winning smile is so vital in building relationships.

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. What is most important is the person’s body language and facial expression. A beautiful positive smile helps make people listen to you and respond in a positive way.

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. What a wonderful change for them after a smile makeover. I had one 40 something male patient who never smiled, and grew a giant walrus mustache to hide his upper teeth which were dark and crooked with large spaces between them. He had an Eeyore personality (the donkey from Winnie the Pooh); he appeared sad and timid.

After making him a new smile with veneers, he shaved his mustache off and walked around with the biggest Cheshire cat grin. He became effervescent and laughed aloud. It literally changed his personality to a more out going and positive one and people reacted to him accordingly.

My main focus as a health care professional is health. I am all about health! I believe in exercise. I ride my bicycle to work, love to swim, snorkel and scuba dive. I hike and play golf and work in the yard. I just enjoy getting outside and moving around. I believe in having a balanced diet and I try eating in moderation.

I believe in brushing and flossing, and having regular dental and medical check ups. In future articles, I will discuss dental health, because to me it is the most important. However, after practicing for over 25 years, I understand the equally and sometimes more important psychological significance of a beautiful smile. In my next article, I will discuss the components that make a terrific smile and what is involved in designing a new beautiful smile. Till then, Enjoy Life and Keep Smiling!