A Guide to Digital Smile Design

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Diagnostic wax-up models have proven to be invaluable to restorative and surgical dental procedures. They have helped with treatment planning, showcasing treatment options and educating both dental professionals and patients in the realities of a dental situation. For advanced general dentistry in Houston, TX, there are even newer and better options; digital dentistry models that have completely changed the way we do dental treatment.

Traditional Wax

The Wax-ups consist of taking an impression and a bite record that was sent to a lab. A prescription from a center of cosmetic dentistry, for example, defined the parameters of a patient’s goal for treatment. The wax-up was then used to create a mold of the desired dental alignment.

Photo Enhancement

In recent years (the last 25 or so) photos also helped both the patient and the staff at a center for cosmetic dentistry define the goals of an oral procedure. Photos also helped technicians build the appropriate lab mock-up for approval by the dentist and the patient. Additionally, photos allowed the dentist to paint a picture for the patient that visualized the intended outcome of any procedure.


While these methods worked, there was a lot of room for improvement. Technicians, for example, cannot easily account for lip dynamics, facial expression and function, which made it essential to have very effective communication with cosmetic and family dentistry in order to avoid errors. When an error occurred, either because of a technical misinterpretation or because of a lack of effective communication, remakes became necessary and chair time increased.

Digital to the Rescue

The introduction of digital workflows, including using photography, video, and impression scanners, has changed cosmetic and general dentistry as we know it. Digital imagery has also allowed dentists to show patients the optimum potential of a particular procedure. Because it is all automated, the entire dental team can contribute to a patient’s dental plan. Additionally, imagery has helped remodel procedures to make them more effective and efficient, meaning patients spend less time in the chair and their procedures have a higher propensity to work.


Digital dental imagery also has the ability to be rendered in 3-D. This is significant because it means a lot less poking and prodding with some dental situations as the imagery allows for 360 degrees of review from any vantage point in any direction. This enables oral surgeons to see the extent of damage to a tooth or gum and to provide the patient with a workup of what the necessary process will entail and what the final results will be like.

No matter how you look at advanced general dentistry in Houston, TX, digital imagery has upended old procedures, assumptions and prospects. As it advances, the potential for even greater rewards only increases.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.

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