Cosmetic Dentistry & The Boomer Generation

Cosmetic Dentistry & The Boomer Generation. Poway Dentist, Dr Paul Coleman, TV

There have been huge changes in my profession, which have occurred due to desires of my generation, that have expanded the dental services we provide. 
The Boomer Generation is dentally, radically different than their parent’s generation. 

  • In 1965, the average 65 year old American had 7 teeth, and 6 months of life expectancy.
  • By 2015, the average 65 year old American will have 24 teeth and 15 years left to use them.

We are not letting people lose teeth to gum disease, and as such, we have been able to offer more that just the care people need... but also the care they desire.  Care that can literally change their lives!
Shows like Extreme Makeover have opened the eyes to millions as to the potential for change.  The change made to folks on that show were dramatic, but if the smile didn’t work on the participants, the makeover would be a failure.  The smile was the center piece of all of those makeovers. 

It is said the eyes are the window to the mind, but the smile is the window to the soul 
When people have a smile they are not proud of, whether the teeth are discolored, crooked, or missing, it affects how they perceive themselves as well as how others perceive them. 

The body does a number of things as we age...
One thing that happens is, inside the tooth, the nerve canal calcifies over time.  As this process occurs, the tooth will have a tendency to darken.  So the number one requested cosmetic dental treatment is tooth bleaching.  Bleaching can be done in variety of ways, each having advantages/disadvantages, and costs which tend to relate directly with results.  
All bleaching procedures, be it Zoom, Brightsmile, take home trays, Crest Strips, are all based on the same chemistry, which is hydrogen peroxide based.  The delivery system and concentration of the whitening agent is what makes the results different.  I have seen some improvement with patients who religiously use whitening tooth pastes, but it is not dramatic.  I have seen noticeable improvement with patients who use the whitening strips; they work better than the toothpaste users.

But to really get a noticeable change...
You have to get involved with your dentist and either have trays professionally made, and you wear the trays, filled with whiting gel for a few hours a day, or over night, until your teeth are as white as you desire.  Depending how dark your teeth are to start, will determine how long it will take. 
I used this system for years for my patients as it still works as well as the Britesmile or Zoom System whiting.  However, it does take a lot of time, so we seldom use trays in my office any more, except for follow-up whitening.

I personally  recommend  the Zoom System.  It is a 1 ½ hour procedure, where we isolate the teeth, and apply a whiting gel, which is activated by a light for three 15-minutes sessions. In my office we have installed TV’s mounted to the ceiling, so a patient can watch TV, or a video of their choice, and when we are finished the result typically look like this.

Should you desire and optimum tooth shade, which can be "picked" from a guide, Porcelain Veneers are the treatment of choice in many cases.
Veneers are thin sheets of porcelain, which can be bonded to the front of a tooth, allowing us to close spaces, do “instant orthodontic”, change colors; restore teeth that are badly worn.  We no longer have to amputate large amounts of healthy tooth like we have to when we did crowns in the past to correct smiles.

I have had numerous cases of patients who would not smile, as they are embarrassed by the spaces in her front teeth.  We  can  remove a little enamel where we ha ve  to, and the lab fabricated veneers according to my prescription.  Two weeks later we bonded them to place.  Every patient is unique, and no two patients should have exactly the same result.

We have other cases where we do  what I like to call “instant orthodontics”   Often patients can have orthodontists straighten teeth, but color of the teeth is bad, mismatched colors on old crowns, gum tissue asymmetry, or mis-shapened teeth, braces can give us, straighter, bad looking teeth.  And I can tell you from personal experience,  us Boomers are not always a patient lot, and many of us would not want to spend two years in braces at this point in our lives.  So we did eight veneers to change the size, shape color and remove the crooked direction teeth.  This was accomplished in two 2-hour sessions.

Another issue for Boomers can be tetracycline stained teeth
In the 1950’s a new drug came onto the market.  It was an antibiotic called tetracycline.  And while it is a terrific drug, and is still widely used today, what they didn’t know when it was first used, was if you take this drug while pregnant or the first 10 years of your childhood, the drug leaves gray, many time dark gray bands on the developing teeth.  We all have friend or relatives who were affected.  It took years to for the problem to become evident, and tons of us Boomers were affected.  There gray bands do not bleach well at all, and veneers can be the answer, indeed a life changing event for someone who was affected.

Please Remember...
There is no specific dental specialty called Cosmetic Dentistry, so any dentist who feels like it can place that in an ad.  You should seek out someone who has had many hours of hands-on training.  They should be able to show you, unretouched photos of their before and after results.  They will always have an outstanding website, showing their work, not stock photos. 
Dentists with this level of training are justifiably proud of their cases and will want to share them with you.  This type of case can not be delivered in a chaotic office environment.  So if there are 12 people in a waiting room, it may not be the best place to look. 
And lastly, if your dentist, his/her spouse, or team members have an ugly smile, look elsewhere.  If they do not have the confidence, talent and training to provide care for themselves, they should not be offering it to you. 
If you need to find a dentist who is trained by the best teaching facility in my opinion, which is the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, you can log on to, and you can find an LVI-trained dentist near you.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options