Dr. Nammy talks about Smile Design, what it is, and the various procedures and treatments that can be implemented to give you a beautiful new smile.
John: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the best-selling book Age with Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living. Today, our topic is smile design. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy: Hi John, I’m so excited to talk to you about smile design today.
What Is a Smile Design?
John: Sure, so go ahead and just tell me what that is. What is a smile design?
Dr. Nammy: Smile design really means that we’re changing the size, shape, or the color of your teeth. Any three of those will be called smile design and we are looking at what is it that a patient wants? What are you looking for and what is your desired timeline for acquiring the perfect smile that is going to make you feel confident and beautiful and fun and just happy.
Short Term or Long Term Plan
John: Does this tend to be a short term treatment or is it a long term plan where you’re really developing a patient’s smile over the course of some months or even years?
Dr. Nammy: It can actually include both, John. You can have a short term treatment plan and you can have a long term treatment plan. For example, somebody came in and said, “Hey, I want to do a smile design.” And I would ask them, “Well, what is it that you really want to change?” And they would tell me, “Oh, I really don’t like the color of my teeth.” And honestly, it’s so common for patients over 50 because as we age, our teeth do yellow naturally. So I’ll say, “Okay, well, the easiest solution for this would be bleaching. Let’s do laser bleaching for you. It takes about two hours. You’ll go home 8 to 10 shades lighter and you’ll be very, very, very happy.” And that’s an example of a short term treatment plan or a short term solution.
Then there are patients who are a little bit more complicated, so their desire is to change the way that their teeth look because either they don’t like the way that their teeth are shaped or that they’re crowded. And when that happens, we have to look at a broader solution and that broader solution may include multiples of things. It can be let’s do straighten the teeth first and maybe do four veneers or it may be that the patient just really wants to get something done right away.
We skip the straightening and maybe do 10 veneers to give them the aesthetic effect that they want. And so, what I’d have to do is really check in with them and say, “What is the solution that you’re really looking for? Would you rather have something that’s super quick and easy but it costs a lot more or would you rather have a longer term solution and more natural solution?” And so, it depends on what the patient feels comfortable with and we go based upon what will make them feel happy and what their value, what’s going to best their needs. And my job is to really educate them and empower them to make the best decisions for themselves. And that’s how we work the process.
The First Step in a Smile Design
John: So what’s the first step in that? Just come and see you and then do you just have a conversation with me, like you said, where you ask me questions about what it is that I’m wanting to do? Do you do an exam or you’re taking a look at my mouth and my teeth or a combination of those things?
Dr. Nammy: Yes, absolutely. The first thing we do is we have you come in for a new patient experience. And at that time, we will ask you what is it that you’re looking for and what’s the purpose of your visit? Is it to make sure that you’re comfortable? Is it to make sure you can chew better? Is it to make sure that everything looks good. Is it that they last a long time? And usually, patients, they have multiple values. So it might be, I want something that’ll last a long time and also want to make sure that it looks good or it can be, I just want to make sure that I have something that looks good real quick. I’m getting married in a week or two and I have decided that I want to make sure the smile of my dream.
And so, looking at those are very two different values, two different solutions for that. For somebody who may be looking for a quicker solution, we would look at veneer and it would take two visits. We would do an examination. We would look at the x-rays. We would do a smile design and we would have them come in and in about a week or two, they’d have the smile of their dreams. And that’s a quick solution.
And they may end up needing about 8 to 10 veneers versus 4 if we did somebody who wanted a longer lasting smile, we would do straightening of the teeth first and then do two to four veneer or many times, I actually end up doing straightening and then doing something called the gingivectomy, which is just removing a little bit of their gum tissue so the size and shape of their teeth looks different, and they get to keep all of their natural teeth.
We would develop a plan to get that look and that would mean, what is your ultimate goal? What is that you’re wanting? And I believe investing in smile design is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. When you have a beautiful smile, you are feeling more confident. You are actually making even more money. There’s been studies they have done that people with prettier smiles actually end up making 15% more, which is really nice. And we’re just feeling good about ourselves and having optimum health and that’s important.
Developing a Smile Design Plan
John: For folks who want to do the more involved things that you mentioned, do you map it out on a timeline where maybe you start with some whitening today and then you plan on doing straightening the next time that they come in and then maybe there’s one particular tooth that needs a veneer on it or something so you might do that later? Do you map it out so that, “Okay, over the course of the next nine months or a year, we’re going to be doing these, this, this, and this and this”?
Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. We map it out for them and we look at the best way to be able to do that, saving your time, effort, energy, money, and teeth. And we will outline a plan for you that will work really well and also, it’s something that you’re going to be happy with because you’re going to give us a timeline. You’re going to give us what is it that you desire. We’ll give you options and then you can find the one that best meets your needs. We will map everything out, even budgetize everything for you so that way you can plan and you can take advantage of insurance if you wanted to, or if you wanted to budget for FSA, or if you wanted to budget with time, and we were looking at when’s the best time for you to do these procedures, we’ll actually walk you through all of that, absolutely.
Why a Smile is So Important
John: I know I saw a video, I think it was on YouTube one time where there was a young man, adult. He had some terrible problems with his teeth when he was younger, didn’t really take care of his teeth. He was actually missing some of his teeth kind of on the edges of his mouth so that when he smiled, you saw these big gaps on the top row of his teeth. He ended up getting some implants done, I believe, so that he had a beautiful smile and he was talking about how it completely changed the way that he dealt with other people. He started joking around more. He started smiling all of the time, whereas he used to be more serious and try to hide his smile and not really smile at all. What are some of the things that you see in your patients in their outlook on life or their attitude after they get a smile design done and they end up really loving the way that they smile?
Dr. Nammy: That is one of my favorite appointments is when we complete the treatment and it is life-changing for patients. I always say that a smile is our love language. It is a way we communicate with the world, just like you were talking about. When we smile, we’re telling somebody, “Hi. We like you. We care about you. We’re sharing our affection.” And we kiss with our mouth, so when we show affection to our loved one, we’re showing that love again. When we’re spending time with somebody and smiling at them again, that’s that physical time and space where we’re really sharing our and vibrating the good juju is what I call it.
When I see somebody complete with our treatment, their eyes light up. They become this completely different human being than when I first met them. And it is the most rewarding appointment for my team, for myself. It’s just we know we changed the trajectory of how this person’s going to being in this world. They’re going to go on the world and shine their light and be very, very happy and share that with others. That is the best thing that we can hope for is one good human being spreading love to another good human being.
John: All right. Well, it’s great to talk to you today about a smile design, Dr. Nammy. Thank you.
Dr. Nammy: Thank you.
John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415) 433-0119.