Advancements in dental technology and materials science have been a great boon for cosmetic dentistry – especially in the design of natural-looking beautiful smiles by means of veneers, crowns, implants and whitening.
But the material aspect of this branch of dentistry is only half the story. Dealing with facial aesthetics on a day-to-day basis, cosmetic dentists develop a level of sophistication and intuitiveness that gives them an ‘eye’ for, and knowledge of, the anatomical considerations in play.
Combining the two – science and art – is particularly important when it comes to facial injectables. This term encompasses the use of botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. The former, also known as Botox®, is used to alleviate pain and tension associated with bruxism and temporomandibular joint dysfunction; and the latter is used to correct fine lines, enhance shape and increase volume of the skin and facial features.
In order to administer both botulinum toxin and dermal fillers safely and effectively, it is imperative that the practitioner has in-depth knowledge in three main areas:
1. Facial anatomy
Dentists are trained in the anatomy of the oral and maxillofacial region. In fact, the depth of their training is equal to, if not much greater than, that of any other group of health care professionals offering facial injectables, as it goes without saying that intimate knowledge of the head and neck is fundamental to the day-to-day practice of dentistry.
2. The dynamics of facial expression
With their comprehensive training in anatomy, dentists are eminently qualified in the areas of smile design, local anaesthesia and dental procedures with implications for facial expression.
3. Facial aesthetics
Designing a smile to enhance the harmony and appeal of the face is the crux of cosmetic dentistry. Speaking from experience, I know that the presence of wrinkles in the peri oral tissues, lack of fullness of the lips and asymmetries in facial features can limit the aesthetics of the final result. Hence, having the tool of facial injectables in the armamentarium of a dentist who already deals with facial aesthetics can only enhance the overall outcome.
Although a relatively new concept for many people, the administering of botulinum toxin and dermal fillers by cosmetic dentists is a natural progression of the existing knowledge and training base of these practitioners, as well as being an extension to their skill set in facial aesthetics.