Celebrity dentistry: How to get a star-studded smile
Most people, even celebs, aren’t born with the perfect pearly whites. We wanted to know: How can we get that celebrity smile at home?
We chatted with Dr. Sherri Worth, cosmetic and reconstructive dentist to the stars, to find what type of dentists celebs use, how we can get our own celebrity whites and get her to name-drop some of her famous clients.
SheKnows: Before we get started with your tips, can you tell us a bit about the difference between a dentist that we'd see to have a cavity fixed and a cosmetic dentist?
Sherri Worth: Cosmetic dentistry is a different way of looking at and approaching dentistry. Much of cosmetic dentistry is actually a need basis, but the cherry on top is that it also enhances the look of your smile. People may say, “I know I need fillings, so why not just get veneers, too?” so in this case, it is a combination of dental restoration and cosmetic dentistry.
I am trained in both. As a cosmetic dentist, I also have specialized training. My training was at the Center of Aesthetic Dentistry at UCLA, which is an incredible program, and I was able to study under the original pioneers of cosmetic dentistry.
I look at veneers as an art form, as well as cosmetic dentistry as a whole. I went into it because you aren’t just drilling a hole and filling it, you are creating. It takes a creative and artistic eye to do these procedures.
SK: I noticed on your website you'd done some work on Tommy Lee of Motley Crue. In fact, he seemed just as impressed by your work as by your looks, noting you were "hot." What's it like working with celebs like Lee? Have you worked with any other people we may have heard of?
SW: With celebrities, the importance of their smile can be even larger than [for] the rest of us because they are constantly being scrutinized and also have their smiles flashed on gigantic screens around the world. I’ve worked with and helped to improve smiles of baseball legend Mark McGwire, American Idol star Ace Young, who is now on Broadway, and, most recently, Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick, who is beyond lovely!
SK: As far as achieving these looks at home, let's start with whitening, since that's probably the most common complaint. What tips do you have for people who want to try whitening at home before dropping the cash on something like a Zoom treatment? Should they try OTC remedies like whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes, go for a strip or tray, or is there a DIY option you'd recommend?
SW: At-home treatments don’t do as much as a dentist can, of course, but there are many products that are great for at-home treatments. Crest is the best on market for at-home whitening, but you can also get bleach trays from your dentist and use that as an at-home treatment as well.
Tips to keep [your teeth] white are to always brush and floss after [drinking] anything dark, like wine, coffee, and black tea. If you can’t right away, just rinse your mouth out after. This helps keep the teeth white and also healthy.
SK: How do these methods differ from things like Zoom treatments in terms of effectiveness? Who's a candidate for an at-home treatment and who should consider a professional treatment?
SW: It depends on the level of whiteness you want. If you do an office treatment where we can use Zoom and really, really get your teeth to the level of whiteness you want, then all you need to do is maintain them at home and call it a day.
On the reverse, sometimes at-home success leads you to our office because you’ve seen the potential and we can make [your teeth] even whiter.
SK: Is there anyone who's not a candidate for things like Zoom Whitening? If they're not, are they just stuck with less-than-white teeth or is there something they can do?
SW: We can work with pretty much anyone to help. If they have very [bad] teeth or gum issues that would cause too much sensitivity, we would first focus on those issues before getting into whitening.
SK: Talk to us about veneers. What problem can they solve?
SW: Veneers offer the benefit of improving shape, correcting chips or covering permanent stains that can’t be improved with whitening methods. The process involves removing about 0.5 to 1.5 millimeters off the front surface of the tooth to make room for the custom-fabricated thin porcelain sheets that are placed on the front surface to create the “perfect and natural” smile.
SK: There are multiple types of veneers [such as] composite, porcelain... and multiple brands, like daVinci, Lumineers and Empress. How do you know which type or even which brand is right for you?
SW: Well, a veneer in general is a thin porcelain strip bonded to the tooth. People put names on them and add their own labels and such because you can make them out of anything — bonding, porcelain, Fibercore. It depends on the situation, but for thin and beautiful teeth, my favorite is porcelain because of the luminescent look. It is best to look at examples of veneers and pick the ones that you like the best for your smile and the type of shine, shape and size you want.
Children sometimes have malshaped or malformed teeth, so sometimes a composite material will work to tide them over until their gums and teeth have matured and we can go in with permanent ones. For people who are heavy grinders and crunchers and need something super-strong, I would recommend Emax, but the results are not quite as satisfying.
SK: Most people are familiar with crowns and bridges when they need to replace bad teeth. Can they also be used to improve your smile?
SW: Yes — all of these things can improve your smile. Again, that is what makes cosmetic dentistry important: In addition to the vanity needs, you are also improving long-term health conditions. As far as what to consider, you should discuss it with a doctor beforehand and be sure you are clear on what it is you hope to get from the procedure and if that is realistic.
SK: I'm sure there are dozens of ways a cosmetic dentist can help you improve your smile, and it can all be rather hard to imagine. Is there a way to get a preview of the results?
SW: The best way is to ask your doctor to show you "before" and "after" photos of patients who had similar issues that you are having and/or who sought similar results. Also, with bonding material we can make a mockup of how it will look and let you actually walk around with this version of the teeth so you have an idea of how you will look.
SK: How do you choose the right dentist?
SW: Interview them! Talk to them and talk to other patients who have gone to them. Make sure you are comfortable with them as a person and as a dentist, and make sure you clearly state what your short-term and long-term goals are; and don’t be afraid to ask too many questions.
SK: How much should people plan to set aside for the procedures? How do they know what a fair price for the work they need done is? Is there a way to cut costs without sacrificing quality?
SW: The work involved in getting veneers covers material, the laboratory’s time, the surgeon’s time and many other factors, so that is why pricing can be high. But I’ve seen doctors who offer $1,500 for one veneer and doctors who offer $5,000 — so I’d say the average is somewhere in between there.
SK: Is it safe to have cosmetic procedures done on children? How old?
SW: It depends on what they need and how invasive it will be. I had a patient with a tooth that turned black so we put a veneer on to prevent it from cracking. But sometimes I’ll have a 15-year-old who wants a full mouth of veneers and I wouldn’t do that. Gum tissue needs to mature, and it isn’t good to be aggressive on the mouth; it would be very invasive if it needed to be reversed. So for children, I’d recommend keeping it simple.
About Dr. Sherri Worth
Dr. Sherri Worth is a cosmetic and reconstructive dentist whose work has been featured on CNN, Discovery Channel, E!, Larry King and Dr. Phil, and in the pages of Vogue, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine and more. You can check out some of her amazing transformations on her website at drsherriworth.com.