Dr Andrea Shepperson has a camera on the table of her consulting room at Lumino City Dental at Quay Park in the CBD. It’s a comfortable space, which doubles as a photo studio. Shepperson works with patients who don’t like their smiles, and uses a unique technique to plan treatment with transformative results.
The camera can be an emotional barrier for many people: “I’m asking someone to do the thing they find most uncomfortable, smiling. In this case for somebody that they just met. We gain trust quickly with our patients, and explain the role photography and video play in planning. As we come to know each other, being in front of the camera becomes easier.
“Sometimes nature has produced less than ideal shapes and alignment, or old dentistry hasn’t captured the character of teeth or personality. Other patients reach a turning point in their desire to care differently for their mouths, and every case is different. Dentistry has never been more fun or satisfying, and we really do change lives.”
Shepperson recently received accreditation for New Zealand’s first Digital Smile Design Clinic — at her Lumino City Dental at Quay Park practice in Beach Road, near the Spark Arena.
She is a global instructor in Digital Smile Design, or DSD, a digital workflow that combines emotional dentistry with technology.She teaches dentists the technology, and is a recognised opinion leader in her field internationally.
The concept introduces an era of customisation and emotional dentistry; connecting with patients through digital visual communication.
DSD dentists become smile designers, balancing art with function for those patients who are afraid or embarrassed to smile. Patients become co-authors of their smile.
The most extraordinary innovation offered by DSD is that it can preview, in the patient’s own mouth, a real simulation of their new smile (mock-up) to see how it would look and feel before starting treatment.
Digital scans of teeth are combined with photographs, video and CT scans to precisely analyse optimal proportions, shapes and other parameters of beauty. The quality of visual communication in 3D provides precise and accurate detail and patients can clearly see and be involved in planning.
“We underestimate the impact that masking a smile has on a person’s well-being,” says Shepperson. “To be able to engage the patient in the design journey is very powerful. A person feels they have regained something of themselves during the DSD process.“
Before and after using the Digital Smile Design
Tailor-Made Smiles: The DSD Mockup
The final design is done by the DSD Planning Centre in Madrid. Natural algorithms, data taken from scans of natural teeth, are used to craft an individual smile for each patient. The final design is 3D printed in New Zealand and the digital blueprint is transferred and tested aesthetically in the patient’s mouth.
The first look at a new smile, via a 3D printed or resin mock-up in the mouth, is a collaborative appointment that creates instant shifts in self-confidence. For the first time, someone has a realisation that it’s possible to smile with confidence. For other patients, there is a sense of regaining self as teeth sit in the smile in harmony with facial features and patient personality.Once we have a clear picture of a future smile, we can plan treatment to suit each patient.