I’m trying to find the best dentist for my situation. I have bulimia, though I’m in recovery and have it under control. I’m slowly starting to rebuild my life and am learning to love and accept the person in the mirror, but it’s twice as hard now because I have to come to terms with the damage that I’ve caused my body. I used to binge and purge a lot, and so most of my teeth have damage on some level. I want to focus on health first, but I’d also like to feel good about my smile. Part of me thinks it’s a bad idea to go to an office that strictly does cosmetic dentistry. I don’t feel like I’m ready for that kind of pressure. At the same time, I also think that would be the best dentist for me, so I can be sure all of my needs are addressed. Is there a certain type of office that specializes in reconstructing smiles after bullimia, so I can be comfortable and not feel like I have to explain everything?
I’m really proud of your progress. That’s fantastic. I know it’s likely been a hard road.
You won’t need to feel uncomfortable going to a cosmetic dentist. We have repaired damage from bulimia in our office, and I would wager that almost every other accredited cosmetic dentist has seen bulimia cases.
These are the best dentists for these situations. They are most likely to be sensitive to your situation, to understand your need for confidentiality and compassion, and to give you the beautiful smile you deserve and so badly want at this point in your life.
There is a different mindset with dentists like Dr. Cha who are passionate about appearance-related dentistry. Dental schools tend to inculcate an authoritarian approach to treatment–the dentist knows best. So we often see patients who have had smile makeovers by general family dentists where the makeover looks truly mediocre but the dentist told the patient that it was great and basically had the attitude that, “I am the professional–I know best.”
Expert cosmetic dentists are different. That minority of dentists who develop a passion for appearance-related dentistry develop that passion because they tend to be more sensitive to the patient’s perspective. For example, when they do a smile makeover, they will do a try-in and insist that the patient love the new smile before permanently bonding it on. If the patient has any hesitancy about how it looks, they will address all those concerns, even sending it back to the laboratory technician if necessary, until the patient is excited about how it looks. The average general dentist, confronted with patient reluctance, will just bond it on and tell the patient it looks great and it will only take time for the patient to get used to it.
My suggestion would be to find an accredited cosmetic dentist near you. If it requires some travel, I think it would be worth it. If you can’t find an accredited cosmetic dentist close enough, then look for someone who displays a smile gallery on their website with photographs that show detail, that clearly claim that this is the work of the dentist, and that look beautiful. Then ask to see before-and-after photographs when you visit the office. Most excellent cosmetic dentists will let you make a preliminary complimentary visit to the office before committing to a paid examination, so you may want to do that also to make sure you are comfortable with the dentist and staff.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.