In part 1 of this three-part series, we touched on ‘what’ we are trying to accomplish as well as, and most importantly, ‘why’. Today we will dive a little deeper in to the ‘how’. In an effort to help patients understand the process, here are the top questions I’m asked regularly about the process and the critical factors that every patient wants to understand more of during a smile transformation.
“How long will the process take?”
This is a great question and although it can very case by case, it almost always falls somewhere b/w 8 and 16 weeks, and on occasion as little as 4 weeks. There are several factors that determine the length of the process from start to finish but it essentially comes down to how many teeth are we treating, and how much are we changing them. However, whether we are simply enhancing the esthetics or improving the function of the teeth (such as with patients with severely worn-down teeth from grinding and/or erosion), adequate records and a proper plan is what allows the process to be as efficient as possible.
“How many visits will it take?”
Generally speaking, it’s 2-4 visits. There are certain cases where we are drastically changing the teeth or the bite and in those cases, we may choose to make custom temporaries as a way to “test drive” the final results. However, if that isn’t necessary, we will typically schedule one longer appointment for the preparation and temporization of the teeth, and then another to deliver the final restorations.
“Will you have to shave my teeth down to little nubs?”
This is the most common question and typically the patient’s greatest concern. Which it absolutely should be. Modern dentistry is too different than it was 15+ years ago. Advancements in the materials/ceramics used to restore the teeth and materials used to bond those restorations to the teeth allow us to be significantly more conservative than in the past. Depending on the case, it’s even possible to restore or veneer teeth without removing any tooth structure. A huge part of our planning is to figure out how to enhance your smile and do it as minimally invasive as possible.
“What will my teeth look like?”
In short, they’ll look great! I always know where this question is coming from. We’ve all seen bad dentistry where a patient’s veneers or crowns are the first thing that walks into a room. I usually will tell a patient to throw out any previous image of veneers that they had in their mind. Patients’ desires will always vary. But regardless of whether you want them to look bright or maybe more “natural”, they will be beautiful and they will absolutely look like real teeth!
The discussions and process can obviously vary and extend beyond these topics and questions, and I invite as many conversations as our patients wish to have to feel comfortable and excited about the process. It’s one of my favorite parts of this job. And the more detailed those conversations are, the better I can plan out the case, and the more conservative I can prepare and restore the case.
In the next and final portion of this series we will discuss everything from the day of delivery and on. Thus, you have brand new, beautiful teeth, now what?
Thank you all so much for reading and letting me be a part of this journey with you.