Some patients know themselves very well and have a clear idea of the smile they want. It’s the dentist who’s mystified.
For example, a male model came in to see me because he didn’t like his smile in a basketball advertisement he was in. “I look to rugged in this photo,” he said.
This short-circuited my expectation. I would have thought he wanted a more rugged look. When I mentioned my reservations to him, he became even more definite.
“No, no, I don’t want to have such a rugged look,” he said. “It’s not appealing. People will typecast me as a rough sort of model. I need you to soften my smile.”
We went through the usual consultation and I performed a procedure.
Just before let left the office, I said to him, “When you get the photos from your next shoot, show them to me and let me know if you like your smile better.” He came a few weeks later. “I think you can handle this,” he said, placing a photo on my desk with a flourish.
I couldn’t believe it. The guy was short-circuiting me again. There, looking up at me from the photo, was a beautiful woman with a gorgeous smile.
“I don’t understand,” I said. “Why are you showing me this?”
“That’s me,” he said, “and that’s the smile you gave me, I’m probably the country’s number-one crossdresser. I do it professionally.”
Another unexpected situation happened when a female patient wanted two very different smiles. “I want a smile like Julia Roberts,” was her first request.
We got photos of the actress and figured out the patterns and principles of her smiles to see if we could incorporate them into this patient’s smile. We were very pleased with the results. In fact, we even considered it a showcase example of what was possible in cosmetic dentistry.
Two years later, however, she came back and said she was dissatisfied with her smile and wanted a new one.
I confess I was a bit upset. I though she was suggesting o had done something wrong. I was just launching into my defense when she interrupted me.
“Oh no,” she said. “I love what you’ve done. But I no longer like Julia Roberts.”
“What are you thinking of now?” I asked her with more than a little trepidation. She put the photograph down on my desk as if she was throwing down the gauntlet. The photo was of the singer Madonna.
Now, Julia Roberts and Madonna are equally outstanding in their looks- it’s just that each is outstanding in her own very different way. There isn’t a soul on the planet who would say the two have a striking resemblance to each other, or much resemblance at all. To make things worse, Madonna has a noticeable space between her two front teeth, whereas my patient had gone through orthodontic work and had no space between hers.
We did find, however, that a Madonna smile would work. We performed the procedure and the old Julia was very happy to be the new Madonna.
As for me, the whole experience has definitely changed my taste in entertainment. You could say I’ve become the number-one fan of the former Louise Ciccone of Michigan. I can’t get enough of her singing and dancing. I admire her fashion sense. I’m even going to out on a limb here and say she’s one of the greatest actresses of our time. It’s all just my way of making sure that she never falls out of favor with the public – or with her biggest fan on my patient list.”
Edward S. Philips, D.D.S.