With advancements in cosmetic dentistry, it is now possible to have custom-made teeth designed to suit not only your face, age and gender, but your lifestyle and profession too.
This is possible through the Oral Museum, a unique concept with great emphasis on orofacial (relating to the mouth and face) smile design and fine art restorative dentistry. The concept provides greater technical possibilities for aesthetic dentists world-wide to achieve three dimensional smile designs in harmony with individual facial forms, skin colour, gender characteristics, as well as individual desirable smile characteristics.
“We customise the smile according to patients’ own features and character needs. If a patient shows us a photo of a smile that they desire, we note the factors that attracted the patient to that smile, dissect its essence and reproduce the same effect on him or her,” says Malaysian cosmetic dentist Dr. Suresh Nair, who specialises in placing veneers (thin layer of restorative materials that cover the teeth’s front surface) and crowns (tooth-shaped caps which completely cover the teeth).
“While the effect would please the patient when she compares the two smiles, they would definitely differ in dimension and position. The most important part in a situation like this is to provide the patient with a good ‘trial smile’ that they take back with them to ‘test drive’.”
German trained dental technologist Mr. Nasser Shademan, who is the founder of Oral Museum and works closely with Dr. Suresh, adds, “The most important feature of the concept is that the dentist and dental technologist work side by side through every stage of the process, something that is rarely found in most practices. This ensures that we give the best results to the patients.”
First, patients are evaluated for their oral and general health. Once they are in the clear, the dental technologist (with some assistance from the dentist) draws three to 12 sketches of the possible smiles. From these sketches, patients can choose a few smiles that they like and a ‘trial smile’ based on these will be prepared by using wax on a model to mimic the desired arrangement of teeth. Based on these, temporary veneers or crowns are created; these are made from acrylic or resin, resembling the final teeth design in shape and colour.
Once these trial teeth are fitted into the mouth, the patient can assess their look and request to modify the size, shape or colour of the teeth, giving them the chance to select the best and most pleasing design. This way, the results are predictable and patients are allowed to participate positively in the whole design process. Dr. Suresh says these trial teeth can be done immediately in the dentist’s office, and patients are able to leave on the same day with their ‘trial smiles’.
Once the design of the teeth is accepted, the final, long-term porcelain veneers or crowns are constructed, a process which takes around two weeks to complete. During this waiting period, patients are able to eat, drink and brush as usual with their trial teeth although Dr. Suresh advises them not to bite on hard foods such as nuts to prevent fracture of the trial teeth.
According to Dr. Suresh, the final results of the long-term teeth are much better than the trial smile because the porcelain is finely crafted to reflect natural characteristics like colour, translucencies, surface features and textures.
“It takes a keen artistic ability to craft the porcelain to look natural instead of looking opaque, flat and featureless. With Oral Museum, the choice of material, the layering technique (which can be up to 25 layers of porcelain) and the balance between design and tooth health allows the creation of beautiful and natural looking smiles,” adds Mr. Nasser.
THE ORAL MUSEUM SMILE
According to Mr. Nasser, there are three major characteristics in an Oral Museum smile.
“The first is ‘elegant’ which gives a more mature and respected appearance, like an “I’m in charge” type of look. The next is ‘youthful’, which provides a younger, more vibrant smile that gives a softer and friendlier appearance. The last characteristic is ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. This trait can be designed either way depending on the patients’ features or needs. Designs at the extremes can be created –¬ where the look can be very male or female. Or there can be a blend of both to create the desired look. For example, if a man wants a friendlier appearance, the male characteristics are toned down and one or two feminine characteristics can be introduced.”
Dr. Suresh adds that patients can request a combination of all three characteristics and an appropriate design can be made. The following are two classic cases highlighted by Dr. Suresh and Mr. Nasser.
After the procedure, patients may feel some heat and cold sensitivity which can last from between a day to a week, but Dr. Suresh assures that this rarely occurs. The patient then has to replace the veneers or crowns every 10 to 15 years, depending on the amount of “wear and tear” they are exposed to, personal mouth-related habits (like biting the fingernails) and how well patients follow good oral hygiene practices. To maintain the long-term lifespan of the veneers and crowns, Dr. Suresh advises to follow these steps:
“Firstly, patients must brush, rinse and floss their teeth three times a day. For those who frequently grind their teeth at night, they must wear night guards to prevent the mouldings from getting damaged. I also provide patients with certain toothpastes to reduce tooth decay. Finally, patients must remember that they have porcelain in their mouths, so they need to avoid eating brittle food like hard biscuits.”
Patients are also recommended to come every six months for maintenance, which involves bite evaluation and cleaning the teeth.
High aesthetic crowns and veneers made by a master dental technician may vary in cost but are about RM4,000 per tooth.
“Eight to 10 teeth are usually involved in a smile makeover, especially if the colour needs to be changed dramatically. It all really depends on who is crafting it because creating beauty and artistic talent go hand in hand,” adds Dr. Suresh.