Incorporating Facial Rejuvenation Into the Dental Practice

By: Janet Roberts, BSc, DMD, and Warren Roberts, DMD February, 2010

Is there a place for the use of BOTOX and dermal fillers in dentistry? Should dentists be providing facial cosmetic procedures that have been commonly performed at spas and by the medical profession? Looking at the facts surrounding the uses for BOTOX may cause a paradigm shift in your attitude as a dental professional toward these treatment modalities. The purpose of this article is to introduce how and why we decided to incorporate facial rejuvenation procedures into our practice. Later articles will deal with the actual treatment procedures and other related issues in more detail.

Our Experience

Our family background includes those who work in the commercial fishing industry. We know from their experience that the key to success involves using the latest technology and advancements to chart their course before the changes in the tide inevitably leave them behind. Their success is dependent on this concept of continually adapting to a changing world. Recognizing that the tide was also changing in dentistry, we decided to apply the same philosophy to our dental practice and began to include facial rejuvenation into our "smile design" treatment plans. Our most exciting adventure to date has been the opening of a Facial Rejuvenation/Aesthetic Dentistry clinic, appropriately named "A Smile Above." Since doing this, we are enjoying dentistry more than ever before.

Defining Facial Rejuvenation

Facial rejuvenation is any cosmetic, dental, or medical procedure that is used to restore a younger appearance to the human face without surgery. Facial rejuvenation comprises a number of treatment modalities. Two of the most common minimally invasive (MI) and reversible methods of treatment include the use of BOTOX and dermal fillers. BOTOX, the natural and purified protein of the clostridium botulinum bacteria, is used to cosmetically soften lines and wrinkles of the face and neck. Approximately 3 to 4 months after the initial BOTOX treatment, the affected muscles will return to their pretreatment condition. Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers are used to restore volume that is lost through the natural aging process. Nine to 12 months after dermal filler treatment, the body naturally resorbs the material.? These 2 treatments are a natural adjunct to aesthetic dentistry and their use can have a major impact on the aesthetic outcome of smile makeovers and comprehensive restorative treatment. This occurs as a result of their effect on tooth display and the draping of the soft tissue around the mouth. Even dentists who may not be inclined to provide these treatments themselves should at least consider educating themselves in how BOTOX and dermal fillers influence the dental treatment they provide.

Importance of Photography

As aesthetic dentistry has evolved, photography has taken on an ever-increasing role in providing optimal treatment. From cosmetic imaging that allows a patient to preview a potential course of treatment, to laboratory communication and accurate record keeping, photographs are a vital part of the process. ? In the area of facial rejuvenation, patients often have difficulty understanding and communicating what they want to improve. A series of photographs that allows them to view themselves from all angles is required. As a result, we created the Roberts Facial Rejuvenation Photography (RFRP) series of 29 digital photographs. This series of photos allows patients to view themselves with various muscles activated from angles they are unaccustomed to seeing. It also helps the dentist to critically analyze the face and to demonstrate how the muscles of facial expression can affect the smile design. (A future article in Dentistry Today will be devoted entirely to the RFRP series and its uses.)

Why Should Dentists Consider These Treatment Modalities?

Patients who are interested in enhancing the appearance and function of their teeth also frequently want to improve their overall facial appearance. In the past they have sought treatment for facial enhancement elsewhere. However, as dentists, we are uniquely skilled to provide these treatments for our patients. Who has better training and understanding of facial anatomy than dentists? Who is more skilled at giving injections? Who do patients trust to work in areas around their mouths? If dentists can be trained to perform delicate endodontic procedures, sinus lifts for implants, and other involved procedures, are they not capable of performing tiny injections into superficial muscles of the facial area and injecting resorbable gels into superficial areas of the skin, especially since these injections can have a direct influence on other dental treatment? ? Dentists are extensively trained in the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck and most are skilled in the delivery of painless injections. In many medical offices and spas, BOTOX and dermal filler procedures are performed by nurses and assistants with less training. Our professional training, as dental students, required us to examine the entire head-neck area. Sometime after graduation, many dentists lose track of this training and begin to see only the teeth when they treat a patient.? For example, the muscles responsible for the "mid-face expression" can have a drastic aesthetic effect in some patients. Have you ever met a beautiful person only to have her smile and show an inch of gingival tissue (a "gummy smile")? No matter how you attempt to look away, your gaze keeps returning and waiting for the gingival display to appear again. Treatment for a gummy smile is often an invasive surgical Leforte I procedure or surgical crown lengthening. Alternatively, BOTOX may significantly improve the appearance without having to resort to a surgical procedure. A 2-unit placement of BOTOX is often all that is required to improve the appearance. A 2-minute, $50 procedure repeated every 3 to 4 months can provide a MI aesthetic improvement in many cases.

Conclusion

It is the authors’ opinion that the time has come for dentists to take a serious look at the topic of facial rejuvenation. Our patients deserve our attention to all relevant aesthetic details and to properly receive these ubiquitous treatments.

References

  1. Lewis MB, Bowler PJ. Botulinum toxin cosmetic therapy correlates with a more positive mood. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2009;8:24-26
  2. Iacopino AM. Relationship between stress, depression and periodontal disease. J Can Dent Assoc. 2009;75:329-330.