Digital Smile Previews and Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is at its best when patients walk out of the dentist’s office with a smile that matches their expectations. A person invests their time, money and energy into their smile, so it is only right that they get excellent returns on their investment. One surefire way that dentists use to guarantee patient satisfaction is with the use of digital smile previews.

Innovations that assure great outcomes in cosmetic dentistry

It does not matter if a cosmetic dentist is happy with their workmanship. If their patient is less than thrilled with the outcome of their smile makeover, then the dentist will feel a sense of failure. For this reason, cosmetic dentists work to create smile previews to show individual patients what their smiles could look like. Traditional techniques for creating smile previews involve the use of before-and-after portfolios or mockups of a patient’s potential smile. These methods are a fairly accurate way to demonstrate a patient’s future smile, but there are methods that are far more accurate and lifelike.

This brings us to the use of computer-generated design.

Digital smile design and digital smile previews

Digital smile design involves the use of specialized design software to create a perfect smile based on images and scans of a person’s teeth, mouth and face.

In a nutshell, a dentist takes photos of the patient’s face as well as intra-oral scans of their teeth and gums. The devices that capture these images are hooked up to a computer that runs dental design software. The design software assembles the images to make a 3D model of the patient’s mouth.

With input from the patient, the cosmetic dentist makes adjustments to the 3D model. Once the dentist and their patient agree on the look of the teeth, the design software sends the end result to a fabrication system.

To put it simply, digital smile design and digital smile previews take place at the same time. Here are the different techniques dentists use to create digital smile previews.

Types of digital smile previews

Snapchat filters and Adobe software use image processing technologies that allow people to edit and sometimes add features to their faces, in real-time. These useful tools translate into cosmetic dentistry as well. For example:

1. Augmented reality previews

A dentist takes a photo of their patient’s smile, face included. Using specialized design software, they edit or design the smile on the patient’s face, replacing the original. This software has a feature that works like Snapchat filters, so when the doctor hands a tablet that takes the patient’s video, the designed smile replaces the patient’s actual smile.

In this way, the patient feels like they are looking into a magic mirror that shows them an enhanced image of themselves.

2. Digital smile design and preview

The process mirrors the one detailed above, except the patient will look at a still image of themselves instead of a "magic mirror".

3. The test drive

This is the most realistic of the three. The dentist makes a 3D model of their patient’s teeth. They use it to design a perfect smile and print out a mold, based on the design. They fill the mold with dental bonding and ask the patient to bite down on it.

The dentist then applies a curing light to the mold, which causes the putty-like bonding to solidify. When they remove the mold from the patient’s teeth, the bonding remains on the teeth, where it takes the shape of the dentist’s design. A patient then gets to see what their prospective smile would look like.

Know what your smile will look like before you take the plunge

Schedule a visit with our cosmetic dentist and preview your smile before you invest your time and your money. Cosmetic dentistry has innovations that can give you your dream smile.

Request an appointment here or call Calabasas Dental Care at (818) 591-2480 for an appointment in our Calabasas office.