Your smile is more than just a physical attribute. It’s also directly connected to your emotional and psychological well-being, and it must be functional.
“It’s not just something that is physical but it has this deeper meaning, a deeper connection … it’s an interpersonal connection with the outside world. And it means so much,” said Dr. Jim Otten, DDS, of James Otten Dentistry in Lawrence, KS. Dr. Otten is a Fellow of The American College of Dentists and an active member of The American Academy of Restorative Dentistry.
What creates a beautiful smile? According to Dr. Otten, the answer is very unique to the individual, and there are many factors to consider, including form and function.
Form and function tend to go hand in hand – what looks good, functions well, and vice versa.
“If you think about all the things that you think about with a great smile – color, shape, size of teeth, display, gum display, the angulation, the spacing – all those things have impact. Most of the time, people ask us about color, but really the most important thing in creating a beautiful smile is the form or the shape of the teeth and the proportion of the teeth,” Dr. Otten explained. If you get that right, the rest of it falls into place. But no matter how white teeth are or how straight teeth are, if the form isn’t correct or the spacing isn’t right, there’s always something that looks off.”
Overall, Dr. Otten said, you have to look at your smile in the context of your whole-body health. A great smile looks good, it functions well and it also contributes to our physical and emotional well-being. When we don’t believe our teeth are attractive to us, we have to look at what’s happened to get teeth to that place.
“We don’t want to get caught up in the trap – the trap in medicine is that there’s a pill or medication for every disease out there, you just do this and you’re going to be healthy. The trap in dentistry is that there’s a device or treatment, or some sort of brush or dentifrice or whitening agent, and if you just do that it’s going to solve the problem, and it’s just not true,” he said.
“Those things help us, but the real problem we have is to find out where people are, how they got there, what they want for their future, and integrate that into their total body health. And when we do that, it makes beautiful smiles for life.”