Winning with a smile

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By LOOKING GOOD JUST GOT EASIER WITH THE LATEST TECHNIQUES IN COSMETIC DENTISTRY, SAYS SUJATA JHA Imaging:Santanu Mallick Photographs by Rashbehari Das
  • Published 9.11.08
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Were you following the US presidential elections? Did it ever strike you that all the candidates — the potential presidents and the vice presidents — had sparkling teeth that looked almost too glitteringly good to be true?

Could it be that they are really too good to be true? Yep, the chances are quite high that all four candidates have had cosmetic dental work of some sort to smarten up their appearance.

“In this beauty-conscious world, the desire to look good has increased. And great smiles are the best way to look great,” says leading prosthodontist, Dr Udai Vir Gandhi, who practises at Narayana Smiles.

New advances in cosmetic dentistry are making it quicker and easier to adopt these techniques — and many are now on offer in Calcutta.

What dental work can you have to look a little better than your best? And we aren’t talking major surgery here.

Bleaching (whitening)

This is one of the most popular techniques in cosmetic dentistry. It costs about Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000 to bleach your teeth. “Young people are more conscious about looks and care about the impression they make. Most of the patients who come in for bleaching are within the age group of 25-35,” says Dr Sonali Khandekar, a leading Pune-based prosthodontist.

The latest bleaching technique on offer is the Zoom2 whitening process. In this process, a whitening gel is applied and an instrument called a Zoom2 Lamp is focused on the teeth. The patient can walk out with a dazzling smile within an hour. This technique is fast catching on in the dental fraternity since it is more effective and less time consuming than regular bleaching.

Gandhi says he has been getting more patients ever since his clinic began offering the Zoom2 whitening treatment. Also, the city’s AMRI Medical Centre will soon be introducing Zoom treatment.

Zoom2 whitening is one of the latest techniques that is becoming popular in cosmetic dentistry, (below) Dr Udai Vir Gandhi prepares his patient for veneer

Porcelain veneers

What happens if you have crooked, chipped, discoloured teeth or badly spaced teeth? The best option in this situation is probably to have porcelain veneer treatment. Porcelain veneers have been around for quite some time but veneers produced with new CAD/CAM technology leads to better fits. While Narayana Smiles, Calcutta, has started with this procedure, it is gradually picking up in other dental clinics in Calcutta.

Essentially, these veneers are a thin shell of porcelain bonded onto the front surface of a tooth with a special adhesive. “Veneers look natural, resist staining and have a high aesthetic value,” says Dr Indrakshi Bhattacharya, dental surgeon, AMRI Medical Centre.

The downside to porcelain veneers is that the technique is expensive and works out to about Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per tooth. Also, they are tough to maintain and can make it difficult to bite into food like apples.

Implants

Do you have a missing tooth that’s embarrassingly prominent? Once upon a time dentures would have been the only way to correct this problem. Now, there’s a relatively new option — dental implants. In this technique a titanium post is surgically placed into the jawbone by the dental surgeon. After that an artificial tooth is attached to the post.

They look natural but they are expensive — approximately Rs 30,000 per tooth. Narayana Smiles have started doing dental implants and dentists at AMRI are training to do implants.

Surgical procedures

Do you have protruding teeth? Or, do you have a ‘gummy’ smile that’s making you self-conscious? You could, of course, try braces but that can be time-consuming.

Nowadays, a slightly different solution for these problems is cosmetic surgery. You can, for instance, have jutting teeth pushed back to make them look more attractive.

And the ‘gummy’ look is fixed by surgical alterations, due to which the teeth appear to be longer and less gums can be seen. Both these procedures will take a big bite out of your wallet and they cost around Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 each.

Botox

A re you afraid of surgical procedures? A non-surgical solution to the problem of gummy smiles is Botox injections. These injections can be used to bring down the upper lip (the Botox weakens the muscles ability to contract) so that less of the gums are on show. Botox, of course, also helps you to get perfect lips by transforming thin lips into luscious ones.

The Zoom2 whitening lamp

A word of advice

Some dentists do offer a warning to prospective patients. “Darker people have whiter teeth while wheatish or fair people have slightly yellow teeth. This colour being god gifted, one should not try to gain the perfect colour as the teeth colour is in accordance with the complexion,” says Dr Kamal Dutta, practising in Calcutta.

In today’s world it’s hardly surprising that people are going in for cosmetic surgery in a big way. In some professions looks count a great deal. “In the hotel industry, looks are of the utmost importance. A nice smile is essential to order to make guests feel welcome,” says Kirti Sharma (name changed), a management trainee at a five-star hotel in Calcutta.

So, if you want to improve on nature’s work, remember that if you go to the right dentist, a million-dollar smile could be yours for the asking.