two men talking

I look at cosmetic cases differently today than I did years ago. I would hear colleagues brag about how quickly and how many veneers they can do. I find today that I do less veneers and more tooth movement, bleaching and composite bonding for patients.

Don’t get me wrong. I still do very nice cosmetic cases – including ceramic veneers – but compared to my younger days, I now have a bigger toolbox and always consider the WIDIOM rule (Would I Do It On Me?).

I realize that people will live longer today and all dentistry has an expiration date. What you do today will need to be redone again, assuming your patient lives long enough. I see many dentists are quick to remove a tooth and place an implant. These implants will need attention, as well, as time goes on.

I have had conversations with many young dentists that feel veneers offer the best cosmetic and functional result for a young patient. But I have seen some ugly veneers. I have seen “new” veneers chip, crack and fall off. Good dentistry is the result of good planning.

Anyway, back to the topic/title of this article. I was working on a patient post-ortho and bleaching who at the prior visit was equilibrated, had posterior restorative preparations and had the incisors restored with direct cosmetic composite bonding. I had run out of time for the canines, so they were to be addressed during the next visit.

At the following visit, my associate came in to watch and I asked him what he thought of the result and which teeth had composites. He liked the result but couldn't tell which teeth had direct composites.

His comment was, "I couldn't do that." My reply was, "You cannot do that YET.”

Then I was checking occlusion and shared how important it is to check crossover occlusion when changing the position of incisal edges. I had him place a finger on my patients’ jaw so he could feel the crossover interference and he saw how her jaw jerked.

When the crossover interference was smoothed how the jaw translated effortlessly and the muscles were happy. He commented, “I wouldn’t have known to do that.” Now he does.

Detail of care is what sets us apart from others. Learn from the masters in our profession.

Knowing where you are now and having the vision as to where you want to go will help to keep your journey smooth. Having a tour guide (mentor) can help you avoid the bumps in the road.

Don’t spend your life trying to be someone else. Decide who you want to be and make it happen. Take good ideas that others have used successfully and make them your own! They are only good ideas if they are working in your practice.

“Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.” – Bob Dylan

Good luck on your journey.

Carl E. Steinberg, D.D.S., M.A.G.D., L.L.S.R. ( ) is a member of Spear Visiting Faculty and a contributor to Spear Digest.