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- Computer Imaging
by Dr. Michael C. Goldman
Computer Imaging refers to the use of a digital photo to "simulate" on a computer screen what you might look like if certain Cosmetic Dentistry changes were to be made to your smile. When you look in a mirror, or at a photo of yourself it's impossible to imagine what you might look like with "whiter" teeth... or "longer" teeth.... or straighter, more square or more rounded, wider, narrower, fuller, or just more "even" teeth.
On a computer, special photo-editing software - similar to Adobe's Photoshop but geared more specifically for dentistry - is used to "Simulate" various changes in the shape, color, and position of the teeth visible in your smile. The result is a credible, realistic "simulation " of what might be possible for you, using today's amazing Cosmetic Dentistry techniques!
You'd be amazed at how much your teeth affect your overall appearance. If that's important to you personally or professionally, you owe it to yourself to investigate Cosmetic Computer Imaging. If you like the results, you can go further; if not, you've done nothing except inform yourself!
Here's a very simple example showing a simulation of what it would look like if a space between the front teeth were to be closed, which could be done either by simple bonding or by veneers.
Next is a much more complex situation with the potential results simulated by computer in the center image, and the actual final result in the bottom image. This takes a lot of the fear, anxiety, and guesswork out of making a decision to modify your appearance. Additionally, when you see the computer simulation image, you can suggest changes so you can "co-design" your new smile with me. In this case, she felt her teeth should be a little wider and bolder and also a bit brighter and whiter than I made them in the simulation. As you can see in the bottom image, her feedback was incorporated in the final design and both she an I were very pleased!
What is it? Computer imaging is the alteration of a digital photograph of you in the computer to see what changes to your smile might look better !
Why would you want it? It's very scary to have your appearance changed .... and even more so if you really don't know what the changes are going look like !......."Imaging"... allows you and I to get "on the same page" about what we both agree looks the best for you. Your dentistry then can be guided by that image so the end result is NOT A BIG SURPRISE !!! Done properly, it takes the emotional risk out of cosmetic dentistry for you, the patient.
Can I see another example ? Yes !
In the top photo you can see the "Before" image of both people as they are before anything has been done. Normally, of course, it would only be an image of one person.
In the bottom image you can see how the appearance of their smiles has been "computer enhanced". It's not "real", just an example of a suggestion of what might look better.
If it were an image of you, you might love it...or you might think... "it's pretty good, ...but ... I think the teeth look too white, or not white enough, or too big, too small, etc..."
Most of those properties (whiteness, size, shape, etc.) can be easily changed in the computer to get an image more to your liking. I would then need to check out your smile in detail to make sure what you want is, in fact, possible to do. Luckily, most often, it is possible.
With today's cosmetic dentistry techniques most people can get the great smile they always wanted, but thought they could never have.
A great smile can change your life ! The sense of confidence and self-esteem that come from an attractive smile can turn your life around, or just make an already great life more pleasurable!
The images to the left were borrowed from a great website http://www.smile-vision.net.
It is a website for a dental laboratory, Smile-Vision, that has done excellent work for dentists like me.
That should give you a pretty good idea of the Computer Imaging part of this .... if you would like to know how it fits in with the rest of Cosmetic Dental treatment, keep reading!
So How Does it Work? In my office, I would start by asking you "What can I do for you?" That simple question puts YOU in charge ! You tell me what you have been thinking about .... wanting.... regarding making your smile more handsome, or prettier, or stronger looking. It's like, if you could wave a magic wand and have your smile look different, how would you want it to look?
You would try to describe your "perfect smile", and I would listen and probably take some notes. By asking specific questions I could get a pretty good idea of what you want, but not exactly. For example, you might say I want white teeth. Well, how white?
That's where it gets tricky...and scary ! Say you wanted "whiter teeth". A month later the dentist puts in your new caps or veneers and you look in the mirror.
"Yikes!!!!.... I didn't want to look like that guy on TV .... You look at him and all you see is TEETH !" .....or... "Doc, I wanted WHITE teeth! These are not much whiter than what I started with !" ... Well..., you and Doc are not having a good day at the ol' dental office today, are you ? And all that money!!!!!!!$$$$$$
So THAT'S what I want to avoid as much as humanly possible by doing the imaging as a start.
In this case my patient wanted very white teeth - and what I like to think of as a "power smile". He does a lot of public speaking and wants to feel in command of his audience. He's the up and coming CEO type and his new appearance helps to give him the self image he wants. You might want a slightly different "look" and that's fine... and imaging helps to determine what you like. Meanwhile, doesn't his smile look so much better?
As a Start??...
There's MORE ???
Yes, but it's a good start and a lot has been determined already at this point in time. By this time we both have a pretty good idea of what you WANT. Now it's my job to determine if what you want is a realistic expectation! The computer imaging is very helpful, but you have to remember it's only a 2-dimensional image. And besides, you can do ANYTHING on the computer. I could put your upper teeth on the bottom and the bottoms on top! Not that I would want to, but you get the point... it's just a picture. In the example near the top of this page you saw these "before" and "enhanced" photos.
So the next step is to check it out in 3-dimensions. I would make a model of your teeth and working with my dental lab technician I would have the model altered to match the imaging we both liked best. Sometimes it just can't be done... or not without getting more involved and complicated than you want to deal with. Most of the time it is possible.... and what's even better, possible "tricky" problem areas are usually discovered in the process of trying to alter the model that better prepares me and the lab technician for making the corresponding alterations to your teeth that might have been missed without this degree of preparation ahead of time ! And there's more... the "temporaries". In this case, again, of the patient near the top of the page, here's how we went from a 2-dimensional computer image to a 3-dimensional model:
The TEMPORARIES ? Yes, once the model is altered and we agree on your new smile design, a mold or form is made of it that will be used to make temporary caps or veneers for your teeth that pretty much exactly duplicate the altered model. Can you see why that is important?
It's important because when your teeth are altered, you will most often need some sort of temporary caps or veneers to wear during the couple of weeks the lab is making your "real" caps or veneers. Well, firstly, this gives you really great looking temporaries so you look better right away!
Secondly, it is a real life PREVIEW of what the real caps or veneers are going to look like, based on the imaging and the altered model work we did. It gives you a chance to see if the color and shape and size, etc. look right to you. The temporaries, while not EXACTLY like the real ones to come, are actually pretty close in shape, size and color. Again , for my patient near the top of this page the results show the benefit of all the preparation work done in planning for the specific esthetic desires of my patient. The end result was NO SURPRISE to me or to my patient!
Additionally, when you see how you look with the temporaries in your mouth - even though you liked the way it looked on the computer - you might tell me you want the front teeth longer or shorter, or more square, or more round, whatever.... I can alter the temporaries to check it out and then I communicate this to my lab technician and those changes can usually be incorporated into the final design. So when you get the final restorations, there should be no BIG SURPRISES ! You have already checked it out in several ways and the only real change should be that the real ones look even better than the temporaries !
The result for my patient near the top of this page: Notice the natural appearance of the veneers.
View of patient's new smile.
The next photo is probably a bit too "clinical" but I want you to see a real close "Close-up" of the veneers...
to see just how real and natural they look !!!
By comparison most caps look opaque and have dark lines or shadows around the gum lines.
So that's pretty much "it"... a lot of work to:
-Find out what you would like, and
-What can realistically be done
-Create good looking temporaries right away, that will
-Give you a real-life preview or rehearsal so we can
-Make final "fine-tuning" adjustments to the real restorations as they are being made... all to closely control the process from beginning to end so you
-Get what you want without waiting to the end and wondering "what will I look like....?"
I sincerely hope this article has been helpful in explaining both what Cosmetic Computer Imaging is and why it might be very important and valuable to you or a loved one thinking about Cosmetic Dentistry.
Please visit other articles on my website dealing with many issues related to Cosmetic Dentistry and Holistic Dentistry.
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HOME TOPICS / INFO ABOUT DR.GOLDMAN TO EMAIL ME CONTACT OFFICE
Michael Goldman DDS
3815 East-West Highway
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
More info about the following is available if you select "topics".
Holism in dentistry is an approach to dental treatment, primarily caring for patients' health and safety from both a conventional as well as "alternative healthcare" point of view. It is sometimes called "biological" dentistry or "biocompatible" dentistry. In it's fullest sense, I believe it acknowledges and deals with the mind, body and spirit of the patient, not just his or her "teeth". See Topics / Info.....
Cosmetic dentistry is about doing quality , esthetic dentistry in a way that looks natural to begin with, and furthermore, can even improve one's attractiveness through techniques such as bonding, bleaching, veneers, caps, implants and more. It can be like "instant orthodontics" in correcting crooked, twisted or misplaced teeth in many instances. Dark or misshapen teeth can be restored. Smiles that lack youthful vigor or beauty can be revitalized! See Topics / Info..
Bleaching, veneers, bonding, caps, bridges, and implants are cosmetic dentistry treatments that are also discussed in Cosmetic Dentistry, and more...located in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815 area near Washington DC.