What Patients Want to Know About Their Cosmetic Dentist

By Therese Vannier, RDA/OMSA July 10, 2018

More and more, patients are asking about cosmetic dentistry. “I want veneers,” they’ll say, even if they don’t quite know what veneers are. But what they’re really asking for is a smile makeover. They want to feel confident when they open their mouth in public. They want to be happy with their teeth.


According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, a skilled, experienced cosmetic dentist can have a direct impact on boosting a patient’s confidence, and the results of cosmetic treatments can be life changing. Today’s patients educate themselves so they can be certain the person they select will deliver the best results. Here’s what patients want to know when they’re looking for a cosmetic dentist:

You’re an effective communicator

First and foremost, listen to what the patient’s esthetic expectations are and let them know if you can meet them. Communicate the limitations of cosmetic dentistry and document your conversations accurately. Complications such as malocclusion, intrinsic stains, narrow arch and receding gums could impact the final outcome and should be addressed prior to treatment. 

You have a minimally invasive approach

Restorative dentistry has evolved toward a more conservative approach, and veneers are no exception. Patients know that compromising any part of their body, including tooth structure and gums, can affect overall health. Today’s technology and restorative materials allow clinicians to achieve cosmetically superior results with very little prep, tooth structure loss and patient pain. If diagnostics indicate that you can attain the patient’s goals with minimally invasive procedures, let them know. If not, use visual aids to explain why.

Your treatment won’t hurt

Most patients are worried about feeling pain during dental procedures. Reassure them that you will treat them with care and will do everything you can to avoid causing them any pain, including anesthetics when appropriate. If your treatment plan requires no anesthetic, let the patient know, but emphasize that they won’t be uncomfortable during the procedure. If you’re treating canines, pre-molars, or molars consider using an Isolite. The Isolite’s single-use mouthpiece can make your patient more comfortable by providing an integrated bite block for their jaw to rest on to help discourage TMJ fatigue. It also helps protect any water or foreign objects from going down the back of their throat.

You’re experienced 

The ability to craft a superstar veneer case takes time, experience and patience. Cosmetic dentistry skills are not attained in a quick continuing education course. Before you prep a smile makeover, get proper hands-on training and live patient education with an industry leader.

Your patients love their smiles

An experienced cosmetic dentist has a photo library that is bursting with wonderful before-and-after images. Spear Education offers continuing education courses that discuss how images can help with patient education and lab communication. Clinical photography (external and intra-oral) not only markets your best work, it’s also good legal documentation. 

You scientifically evaluate every case

Be sure to talk about the diagnostic process with the patient and supply them with a cost estimate so there are no surprises. Let them know that you’ll be collecting data in order to obtain the very best results. Discuss x-rays, tomography, study models, diagnostic wax up, computer generated images, photography, provisionals and shade. Use killer visual aids to help share your findings and enthusiasm.

You look at the whole picture

If you see problems with the patient’s mouth that go beyond the treatment they’re asking for, tell them. For example, if their teeth indicate signs of bruxism, show them the incisal and occlusal wear with an intra-oral camera. If they have an irregularly narrow arch, explain treatment options (orthodontic or porcelain) to esthetically widen their display. Do whatever you can to convey that you understand the nuances of cosmetic treatment, including soft tissue problems, structural limitations and golden proportion.

Your ceramist is top-notch

Let the patient know that your entire team can be trusted to achieve results that are tailored just for them. Tell them that you’ve developed a long-term professional relationship with a highly skilled lab person, and together you achieve beautiful results. “The technician can add valuable information about materials and tooth preparation that will set you up for success,” says Dr. Lee Ann Brady in an article published in Dental Economics. A skilled artist with the very best materials is highly important. 

You provide provisionals prior to treatment

Diagnostic wax-ups are your best friend. Duplicate your wax-up and prepare a matrix to fabricate a provisional restoration. Let the patient take the provisionals for a brief test drive. Evaluate shape, size, shade and occlusion.

You don’t rush the process

Patients are trusting you with their smile, so it’s important to let them know that you take the time necessary to achieve their esthetic goals. At the try-in appointment, place each veneer onto the prepared tooth surface with a drop of water. The restorations will stay in place just long enough for the patient to get an idea of size, shape and shade. Give them a hand mirror and ask your assistant to escort them to the bathroom, reception area and outside so they can see their new pearly whites in a variety of light conditions. They will most likely love their new display. If they do, schedule the seat.

Your patients are excited to share their experiences

If your patient is happy, everyone is happy. At the post-op appointment, ask them if you could record their cosmetic dentistry experience on video and/or share their before-and-after photos with other potential patients. Make sure your pleased patient signs a model release form.

From boley gauges to hands-free suction devices, dentists should have all the right tools to provide excellent, long-term results and patient satisfaction. Do yourself a favor and let your patients know how you will elevate their cosmetic dentistry experience with innovative tools and technology.