The Dental Blog of Bradely J. Olson, DDS

Smile Design

Esthetics and smile characteristics identified

The ideal smile is in the eyes of the beholder. The subject of this blog comes from a recent study found in the October 2008 Journal of the American Dental Association and is similar to a famous study from the 1999 Journal of Esthetic Dentistry by Vincent Kokich and colleagues where smile characteristics are altered on a computer and people are asked to judge the beauty of those smiles. In both studies, it was found that laypeople can reliably evaluate certain smile characteristics that create or detract from a beautiful smile. When I lecture on this subject, I emphasize that as the treating dentist, it is invaluable that we have a strong command of these principles to help our patients achieve their individual ideal outcome. The patient may know something is not pleasing, but it is my job to help identify the characteristic that needs changing.

One example from these studies show that people can have the midline (the place where the two front teeth meet) off center without being a detraction, but teeth that lean to the right or left present a larger problem.

Communication and teamwork are invaluable to creating a final result that is individualized for each patient. I have emphasized the individual because beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder.

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