What is Digital Smile Design?

Digital Smile Design or ‘DSD’ is a ground breaking development in undertaking cosmetic dental treatment – developed by Dr Christian Coachman, a dual qualified dentist and ceramist hailing from Brazil. Dr Coachman developed this technique as a means of improving three critical areas of communication between:

Dentist and Patient
Dentist and other treating clinicians
Dentist and Ceramist/Laboratory

DSD is a process of record taking and analysis including digital photography, dynamic video recording and computer software analysis that enables the restorative result to be pre-planned and confirmed prior to any interceptive/invasive dental treatment. This plan of the proposed restorative result is then tested with the patient using a direct ‘mock up’ in the mouth – that is simply placed over their natural teeth for the patient to see and trial – without any tooth preparation whatsoever.

Why is Digital Smile Design important?

Digital Smile Design is becoming ever more important, due to an increase in the aesthetically aware and demanding patient base. This is not to say that patients are seeking unattainable levels of aesthetic excellence, but rather they are seeking a more natural result that is fitting with their facial harmony and appropriate to their age, race and sex when undertaking cosmetic dentistry. Gone are the days of the ‘white picket fence’ –rather the focus is now on natural shaping, shading and arrangement to teeth that is a reflection of natures ‘perfect imperfection’. This may be achieved through slight rotations to teeth, the natural translucency or shade differential over the tooth surface, or a more characterised texture to the ceramic surface.

DSD is thus important as it allows us to ‘test drive’ this new smile – to confirm patient acceptance prior to any tooth preparation. Patients can then go forth comfortable in undertaking this treatment, knowing that they have had the opportunity to view and confirm the proposed aesthetic changes. Many practitioners sadly ask their patients to go into treatment of this nature with ‘blind faith’ and hope that the treatment will be undertaken to the desires of the patient. Sadly, when this isn’t the case, it leads to unhappy patients and a ‘re-do’ of the treatment – a significant compromise to the final result.

Perhaps one of the most positive benefits of this treatment is that it allows Dr Dunn to be extremely conservative in tooth preparation. When we have defined the desired outcome prior to any tooth re-shaping, it means we only remove the amount of tooth required to achieve the final restorative result. This is in comparison to the ‘old system’ of cutting teeth first – and then building restorations to fit this! This leads to teeth being aggressively over prepared – to accommodate ‘all options’ for the ceramist in the laboratory. With Digital Smile Design, the ceramist is aware of the final outcome – and thus receives the model of the prepared teeth appropriate to this.

What is the process?

The Digital Smile Design process begins with a thorough examination of your:

Facial Aesthetics
Facial Symmetry
Dental and Facial Midline Positions
The relation of the dental aesthetics to the facial aesthetics
The soft tissue (gum) harmony and symmetry
Phonetic considerations

A series of photographic images are taken, both intra-oral and extra-oral as well as impressions of the upper and lower teeth. Further, we take a dynamic video recording, so that we can see the lips in motion during various emotional expressions – as well as in a natural smile – which is generally a lot ‘broader’ than a posed smile!

Smile symmetry

We all know a great smile when we see one. But what exactly is it that makes a smile fantastic? A beautiful set of teeth? Then what makes teeth beautiful? The answer lies in the parameters set by nature. When you see someone’s smile as ‘beaming’ or their teeth as ‘beautiful’, you’re responding to a formula we see every day in nature from the ferns and flowers at Queen’s Park to the seashells on Maggie. It's known as ‘the golden proportion’ – the formula or ratio that marks the measure of beauty in nature. That ratio is 1:1.618. The spiral of a seashell, for instance, increases at the ratio of 1:1.618. The same can be observed in flowers, feathers and leaves. The golden proportion is evident throughout the human body, including the teeth.