A new haircut can give you a whole new look in a matter of minutes, but if someone has crooked or spaced teeth, how do you give them an extreme make-over with no down time during the process? We found someone in Lubbock who's been looking for an opportunity like that after hiding his teeth all his life.
To really appreciate how far we've come today in cosmetic dentistry, you need to take this Lubbock tour first. Robert Bromley is the owner of Technicare Dental Labs where these technicians are in the business of improving smiles. It is a process that combines skill, drills, ovens and artistry.
"Each tooth is made individually like a piece of jewelry," said Bromley.
Models are poured out of plastic to duplicate the patient's mouth. Each tooth, with a metal or gold framework is then painted with an opaque porcelain, then painted again with a translucent finish. Each is grinded and shaped to give natural curves and a custom fit and then baked at high temperatures to give it strength and finally glazed to make it shine.
"We clean it up, package it and send it back to the dentist," said Bromley.
That's the way it's still done eighty percent of the time. But twenty percent of patients today are turning to digital technology instead.
"This is much quicker. You eliminate several steps and you get a better product. You don't need the metal sub-structure anymore. You don't need the gold showing through. Movie stars are using this kind of dentistry," said Bromley.
Here's how it works. First, the dentist grinds down the teeth of our make-over man to make this impression of his mouth. Some of the bottom teeth are so crooked or damaged, they are removed. The mold is then placed under a camera that takes 3-D images which are sent to a computer.
"It will make a crown digitally custom made for this patient," said Bromley.
The color is just the graphic color. The technician can guide the computer to select the perfect tint to match the other teeth. But so far, all we have is a plan. When the lid closes the custom work begins to make a tiny cube into a crown. For about ten minutes, robot arms chisel and rinse the starting material into a custom made crown which will later bake in intense heat for about twelve hours.
"The heat and pressure is what turns it into zirconium just like the artificial diamonds. We'll send the finished look to the dentist. Use adhesive to put each tooth in permanently and the patient will walk out with a whole new mouth," said Bromley.
So that's what took us from the lab to Dr. Kathy Nichols office. Where Abner was ready for his transformation. It had been two weeks since some dental work to prepare for this make-over but no one had noticed he was a work in progress.
"It's not always as fast as it is on TV things do take some time to get it perfect," said Dr. Nichols.
A picture nearby shows the teeth he has worn all his life. One more reason Dr. Nichols is excited about this opportunity.
"Because it gives our adult patients permission to smile and to think that it's important for them to take care of themselves," says Nichols.
Each new tooth is permanently affixed to his own and then finally, Dr. Nichols turns to our make-over man and told him to take a peak at his teeth for the first time. After twenty-five years on the air with barely a smile Abner Euresti has a lot to smile about now.
"People feel apologetic because they want to make their teeth white or prettier and think it's critical for us to have beautiful smiles," says Dr. Nichols.
But don't expect too much too soon this may take more than a make-over.