Beauty is every woman’s desire. It may be a hidden one but none the less one. Although all of us tend to believe we know it when we see it, few of us are confi dent enough in our concepts of beauty to attempt a defi nition. It is not reasonable
or even rational to aspire toward such an ill-defi ned goal, but the average man or woman accepts the premise that beauty is a prerequisite to social acceptance, happiness, and good fortune.
From the time a little girl watches mom putting on makeup and combing her hair, beauty is instilled naturally in the child. A pretty appearance is encouraged and reinforced in our everyday life. These early lessons build a foundation of beliefs that become deeply rooted.
Women and men go through this process differently. There are basic differences that exist in men’s and women’s developmental stages that can infl uence the importance and value placed on image enhancement.
Women and men are educated and cultured differently in our society. From the time a little girl is two to three years old, she is introduced to the concept of beauty. She discovers a role model in her mother. It is not unusual to fi nd a little girl standing next to her mother in the bathroom mimicking mom in putting on makeup and lipstick, literally covering her entire face. Eventually, she becomes skilled as an artist.
Most little boys, on the other hand, rarely go beyond covering their faces with daddy’s shaving cream. A high value has been placed on appearance and is instilled in females at an early age. This sets the stage for future behavior related to the concept of beauty.
The young woman learns it is all right to alter and improve her appearance. It is not only socially acceptable, but socially required for women to look good. This conditioning is not only limited to what the child learns at home, but is reinforced by fi gures that are glorifi ed in our culture. Television, magazines, and newspapers focus on health and beauty items that will create a glowing complexion, reduce pimples, retard the effects of aging, and create a more beautiful smile.
Women models advertise the products, suggesting that those who use them will have a more fun-fi lled lifestyle. This exposure to the concepts of beauty is emphasized by the media to the extend that billions of dollars and millions of hours are spent every year by women to be happier, younger, healthier, and of course, more beautiful.
Consequently, the consumer is guided to desire that white, bright, sparkling smile that they constantly see in toothpaste commercials. The consumer no longer tolerates teeth that look dark, dirty, dingy, worn, or devastated. They want to smile with confi dence, knowing a beautiful smile makes them socially acceptable. The desire for a vibrant, youthful smile will be a major driving force in dentistry.
Women are seeking dental services that will preserve and enhance the beauty of their smile. It is not surprising to fi nd that a large percentage of women are dissatisfi ed with their smiles and appearance.
Through the process of image enhancement, women develop an acute understanding of color, contour, shadowing, and subtlety that translates into other aspects of their lives, such as clothing, hairstyles, and facial appearance. They begin to understand the impact of visual presentation. A women has a tendency to be feature directed. She carefully inspects the changes that might have occurred overnight. Attention is paid to tiny details. She looks at eyebrows, wrinkles, bags, lips, skin, pores, and eyelashes before she prepares for the shower. Once showered, the process of image enhancement begins. Women have become face artists.
Through the use of cosmetics, plain Janes can become beautiful. Cosmetic products will be used to alter the image she sees refl ected in the mirror. Women have an acute ability to discriminate to a much fi ner degree than men. They will use this ability to defi ne and accentuate their best features and minimize their worst.
Line, contour, perspective, and shading are used to create illusions. Women are inclined to seek information concerning dental image-enhancement procedures because it is a natural extension of the above process. They are continually exposed to the refl ected image of their lips, mouths, and smiles when they apply lipstick.
They see the relationship of lip color to facial and tooth color, and choose their lipsticks by taking these surrounding elements into reconsideration. Through the course of the day, they might reapply lipstick four to eight times. This repeated inspection of the mouth can display, intensify, and magnify the appearance of teeth defects. Granted, women’s level of concern regarding their appearance vary depending on a variety of factors. However, the majority of women naturally aspire to improve their overall appearance. Women tend to feel that it is all right to make themselves look better. They go to hairstylists, spend more money than men on changing hair color and style, use nail polish, and perform cosmetic improvements as a necessity of life. It is not an add-on. It is not a luxury. It is an integral part of everyday life.
Looked at in terms set by our visually oriented society today, an awkward appearance can have devastating effects. I can hinder one’s social desirability, create a negative visual impression, be a source of ridicule and humiliation, limit person and career growth, and run self-image. Women patients entering the dental practice today are searching for ways to look good and feel good about themselves. The media has been the biggest promoter of new cosmetic techniques.
Until recently, dentistry has been focusing on disease elimination. The elements of health and beauty were poorly understood. Today’s cosmetic dentist has emerged with new cosmetic techniques. He understands the relationship of the mouth and teeth to a women’s overall appearance. Discolored teeth were considered normal and an acceptable manifestation of facial and dental aging. This is no longer acceptable to patients who want to retain their youth. Stained, crowded, worn, and chipped teeth now need to be addressed and treated.
At our offi ce, we are able to offer our patients a video imaging consultation showing the patient her improved smile and appearance before the work is started. With new techniques such as laminates, tooth-lengthening, gingival recontouring, minor tooth movement, and whitening, there is a new and exciting feeling about teeth and improving one’s smile and appearance. The cosmetic dentists today realize that the face is the vehicle of our first and last social contact. It is the expresser of our emotions, the conveyor of thoughts and language, the center of our sexuality, and the source of our nourishment, both physically and psychologically. It allows people to come into contact with us or it shuts them out. Cosmetic dentistry is one of those procedures that patients are forever grateful.