Elevate Magazine Fall/01

Elevate Magazine Fall/03

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Reprinted from Elevate Magazine Fall '03 with permission.

Something To Smile About

By Pamela Fulford

What do we notice first about another person? According to most studies on physical attraction, it’s the eyes that grab us first—and then the smile. That’s probably why so many of us are sensitive about our teeth. Cosmetic dental work can be an expensive proposition, but for those people who’ve had it done, it appears to be the best investment they’ve ever made. Three women who made that decision to ‘upgrade’ their teeth share their thoughts on everything from why they chose their dentist to how they feel about their brand new smiles.

“I Almost Cried”

Josie Hettinga used to model during her university days, but she became so self-conscious about her teeth, she didn’t feel comfortable smiling in front of the camera. “I grind my teeth,” admits Hettinga, a mortgage-broker and mother of two. Her bruxism left her teeth not only sensitive, but one-half the size of a normal tooth. “There came a point where I just had to do something about it.”

Thorough and determined, Hettinga researched as much as she could. A visit to a local dentist near her home in Kitchener left her feeling uncomfortable. “I was really nervous about the work I was going to have done and the atmosphere was just too cold and clinical,” she explains. In addition, the dentist started talking implants right away, something that made Hettinga very nervous.

“I decided I was going to keep looking until I found the right dentist. I had been doing research of my own on the Internet, and it was around this time that I saw a television ad for the Kochman Centre in Toronto.” Hettinga doesn’t mince words when she talks about her feelings. “I was frightened about the extent of the work I might have to get done, so I was going to make sure I was absolutely comfortable with the dentist I had chosen.”

Her first visit with Dr. Mark Kochman helped ease a great deal of her fears. For one thing the atmosphere at the Centre relaxed her. “I wanted warm and fuzzy,” laughs Hettinga. She also felt her research had enabled to be more emotionally prepared.

Despite her worst fears, Kochman assured her she didn’t need implants. However, to achieve the results she wanted, both dentist and patient agreed that a full-mouth construction –upper and lower porcelain crowns—would be the best solution. Hettinga was excited about the prospect of ‘perfect’ teeth, but the realization of what that meant didn’t dawn on her until the appointment where Kochman showed a wax mock-up of what her new teeth would look like. “I almost cried,” she admits. “I knew at this point there was absolutely no turning back.”

Hettinga doesn’t downplay the commitment it took to have her teeth done. “After I made my final decision, I still waited awhile before I went ahead. I wanted to be absolutely sure of what I was doing.” The time and money involved was also extensive, but in the end,
absolutely worth it.

“I am so much more confident now,” says Hettings, who has returned to modelling part-time. “I feel like I’ve had my new teeth all my life. And, you know, the first thing I notice about people now is their teeth.”

“I Never Wanted To Laugh”

Twenty-four years ago, Pamela Himel had a collision in phys ed class, leaving her with two crowns in her upper front teeth, “When I had to have the crowns replaced,” says Himel, “I decided it was time to get some other work done. I had never been happy with the rest of my teeth and wondered what could be done.”

Even though she is extremely comfortable with her own family dentist, he doesn’t do the type of cosmetic dentistry Himel wanted. Instead, he referred her to Dr. Ed Philips at the Studio for Aesthetic Dentistry in Toronto.

“During my first appointment, I initially met with one of Dr. Philips’ assistants. She showed me before and after photos of patients, discussed prices and appointment schedules.” Himel liked theprofessional approach and the atmosphere. “Frankly, it was a pleasure to sit in such nice surroundings.”

As for Philips, he just exudes confidence, according to Himel. “You just know he knows what he’s doing.” What he suggested, beyond replacing the two crowns, was five veneers on the upper mouth. Himel felt that her teeth were two big for her mouth, so Philips agreed to reshape some of her bottom teeth, sanding them down slightly to make them smaller. The final step would be to whiten her teeth so that they would be as bright as the new veneers and crowns.

Once the decision was made, Himel went for it, “The majority of the work was done in two weeks. I was going on holiday and wanted to have it all done before I went. But even the temporary tteeth I had while the veneers and crowns were being made looked great,” she laughs.

The result? “I really am more confident. I used to be very self-conscious, especially about my eye teeth. I never wanted to laugh. But not any more.”

“I’ve Got The Smile Of My Dreams”

Like many teenagers, Lori Jenkins faced the prospect of wearing braces. There was overlapping of her eye teeth on both sides of her mouth, but her dentist at that time felt it was serious enough to require correction. “She actually thought it added character to my smile,” says the mother of three, who works as a sales coordinator for Aramis Fragrances.

However, as she got older, she began to resent that ‘character’. “When I got married, my husband convinced me to switch to Dr. Izzy Novak, who was his dentist. I used to complain to Izzy about my teeth, but never did anything about it.”

About six years ago, the talks turned more serious. Novak, whose practice Dentistry By Design, was working with dental technologist who, he told Jenkins, was doing fantastic work with veneers. “One thing led to another and after some serious thought—and discussion with my husband—I decided to go ahead with it.”

The work entailed six veneers across the upper mouth. “My teeth used to slope backward,” says Jenkins. “The veneers would be straight so my teeth would look normal.” While dental work can be drawn out and uncomfortable, Jenkins describes the process as practically painless. “It took only a few visits and because Izzy is so much fun, it was not stressful at all.”

Even after several years, Jenkins is thrilled with her teeth, “They are still as perfect as when I got them. They transluscent and bright—I actually get compliments all the time. I know it sounds corny, but finally, I got the smile of my dreams.”