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“My teeth are dark and worn down.” “My bite is off.” “I want to look my best, but without looking like I had something done.” These are words we hear every day from our male patients, who are no longer shy about seeking a change in their smile.
In fact, men—of all ages—now make up almost half of our cosmetic dentistry patients, a number that has nearly doubled over the last decade.
I see a lot of middle-aged men moving from government jobs to the private sector. They place more emphasis on appearance outside the world of government, and the need to improve their looks. Some men recently lost weight or started working out and want a smile that matches their new vitality. Others are newly single and want to refresh their appearance. And the 20s-to-30s set, who take a no-big-deal approach to whatever it takes to ramp up their look—sign up for whitening, veneers, Invisalign® before weddings, college reunions, etc. To this cohort, vanity is not emasculating. Vanity is enlightened self-improvement!
While seeking the same result as women, men often put their request in more “functional” terms. “Can we make my teeth look less worn out?” “Can we make my teeth look younger, but still fit my face.”
In the end, though, when it comes to actual smile design, a natural, pleasing smile is what every patient is after. A fresher, more youthful look. “I want to look my best, but without looking like I had a procedure done,” they say. In fact, in our practice, we seldom get a request for a “Hollywood” smile. After all, this is the Washington, DC culture. More tailored and “natural” is the best cosmetic solution.
What has changed? On the day of the final “smile reveal,” it’s not unusual to see “selfies” taken in the treatment room. Instant photo-sharing is a part of our everyday life, and our smiles get flashed “literally” all over the place. Men included.
And men of all ages take to the internet for lessons about cosmetic dentistry. Many have already read up on veneers, lasers, Invisalign®, whitening by the time they arrive for their first consultation appointment. Yet, both men and women are surprised when I tell them that “designing” a smile is no different when it comes to gender. Men have square teeth and rounded teeth. Women have square teeth and rounded teeth. It all comes down to creating a smile for each person, by considering proportions of skin tone, jawline, facial structure, natural tooth color and body size, among many personal characteristics. From our first meeting, they enjoy getting information about what it will take to achieve their desired “customized smile.”
On the day of the big “reveal,” even the most staid male gets excited about a revitalized new look. While I have created thousands of smiles, it is always so gratifying to see how much it means to each patient. And for many men, it also means a lot to the women in their lives. Often it is a ‘significant other’ who turns them “toward the light” of a brighter smile in the first place.
Dr. Rinaldi practices general and cosmetic dentistry at Washington Center for Dentistry, 1430 K Street NW, Washington, DC. www.washdent.com He has received a “special citation for cosmetic dentistry” in “Washingtonian” on the list of Top Dentists.
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