Cosmetic dental treatments receive a lot of media attention and are the only dental treatment anyone ever talks about. They are particularly popular on extreme makeover TV shows where the patient will have tooth whitening and/or a whole mouth full of crowns and veneers.
We want our patients to have good function and good looks! The two are often achieved simultaneously following the old adage ‘Form Follows Function’.
In real life, ‘Cosmetic Dentistry’ is not just about spending $50,000 + on treatments – this is completely out of the question for many people. Ultimately, all dental treatments should be as ‘cosmetic’ as they are functional.
Despite the impression the ‘makeover’ TV shows portray, there is more to cosmetics in dentistry than porcelain crowns and veneers. Whether it is as simple as tooth whitening, or replacing failing old silver mercury filings, many modern dental treatments can improve the appearance of the smile.
The most important ingredient in any cosmetic dental treatment, no matter how limited or how extensive the scope or budget… planning. Without proper planning the most expensive treatment will look terrible.
In the world of dentistry, expense is related not only to the advanced education, skill or time of the dentist performing the treatment, but also in part to the advanced training, skill levels and time of the dental technician involved. Nowadays some dentists try to reduce the technician’s cost to them by sending the work to a discount dental laboratory in China or another Asian country however this can introduce the problem of quality control.
There is a huge trust issue between dentist and dental technician. There are a hundred minor technical steps that must be completed perfectly by the technician in order to have the dental crown, bridge or implant to be ‘fit for purpose’.
In many cases missing or improperly performing just one of these steps, could ruin the entire treatment. Naturally the dentist is not in a position to personally oversee all of these steps, so there needs to be a strong and close working relationship between the dentist and dental technician.
No air miles to get to our dental technicians
In our practice we choose to work almost exclusively with 3 dental technicians. These technicians are not the cheapest. They are in my opinion (and the opinion of some of the finest dentists and dental specialists I know)amoung the best in Brisbane and among the best in Australia. All are located within 10km of our practice. We visit with all 3 about our cases almost every week. Not because we don’t trust them, but because dentistry is a very technically demanding and complicated business.
I’m not saying that every dental laboratory in China does inferior work. It’s just that in my experience when the dentist has sent the technical work to China, or when people have gone overseas to have dental treatment, it has not ended well.
The reality is that quality dental care is not cheap and it’s like my dad used to tell me: “When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.