There is no question that cosmetic dentistry is effective at improving people’s smiles. If your teeth are crooked, Invisalign can straighten them. Porcelain veneers can correct crooked teeth, poorly shaped teeth, discolored teeth, and otherwise unattractive teeth. A dental implant can fill that gap in your smile.
What’s less clear is whether this objective improvement in the appearance of your smile always comes with a subjective sense of improvement. You will get great results from cosmetic dentistry, but will you be happy with those results?
This summer, the British Dental Journal published a study about how psychological factors influenced satisfaction from cosmetic dentistry procedures. The study looked at just 60 patients who went to a dental clinic in the UK for cosmetic dentistry procedures, and they found that people who were most satisfied with their body before the procedure were three times more likely to be satisfied with the results of their procedure. In fact, body satisfaction was the sole predictor of happiness with results.
At first, this may seem odd. You might think that the people most likely to be satisfied with their results would be those who had the most dramatic change in their appearance, or those who were actually most bothered by their smile. But what this study shows us is that in many people seeking cosmetic dentistry, the problem isn’t actually in their smile.
Instead of having a problem with their smile, the problem for many of these unsatisfied patients is actually in their heads. It’s a problem that plastic surgeons have been struggling with for many years. Many patients that come seeking plastic surgery aren’t doing so because there is a real problem with their appearance. They may think their nose is too big, their thighs are too thick, or their breasts are too small, but this isn’t because of their actual measurements, it’s because of the way they see and judge their own bodies. It’s called body dysmorphic disorder, and it’s a condition in which people can’t see the reality of their own form. People may come for plastic surgery, get a procedure, and be upset with the results because they still can’t see the reality of their changed appearance. They will often insist that the problem is still there and the surgeon hasn’t done a good job. Other times, they may think one problem was fixed but now they see new problems that need to be fixed, too. They may be serial patients who put themselves at risk and ultimately cause trouble for surgeons.
We sometimes see the same thing in dentistry. This might be called dental dysmorphic disorder, where people perceive their smile as unattractive, even when it’s fine. They aren’t happy with quality results because what they see is not what is objectively there. Where this has gotten the most attention in the media is people who are addicted to whitening, who continue to whiten teeth that are already as white as they can get and may actually end up eroding their enamel.
Before getting cosmetic dentistry, it’s important to make sure that it’s really your teeth that are the problem. During your consultation, we will talk to you about your cosmetic goals and expectations and make sure that if we give you the results you want.
If you would like to learn more about getting cosmetic dentistry results that will really make you happy, please call (310) 275-5325 for an appointment with a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist at Nicolas A. Ravon, DDS, MSD.