Cosmetic dentistry is a highly effective way to correct minor and major complaints you may have about the appearance of your teeth. Teeth whitening can reliably whiten teeth. Dental implants can reliably replace your teeth.
But what cosmetic dentistry can’t reliably do is make you happier. This is because for many people considering or seeking cosmetic dentistry, it isn’t actually the teeth that are the problem.
Satisfaction before Cosmetic Dentistry Predicts Satisfaction after
A study published this summer in the British Dental Journal looked at the impact of psychological factors on the level of satisfaction a person experienced both before and after cosmetic dentistry procedures. They found that the primary predictor of satisfaction with the results of cosmetic dentistry was satisfaction with their face and body before a procedure. People who were satisfied with their body overall before treatment were nearly three times more likely to express satisfaction with their results.
This may seem counterintuitive. You would expect that people who were more dissatisfied would see improvement more clearly than those who might have only a little dissatisfaction based on a small defect in the appearance of their smile. But the reason why this occurs is that it was never the smile that was the problem in the first place.
Dental Dysmorphic Disorder
This problem in cosmetic dentistry mirrors one that plastic surgeons have been facing for many years. It’s called body dysmorphic disorder. People with this condition don’t see their body as it really is, but using some mental image they have of their body that isn’t actually based on reality. People with this problem can’t be satisfied with their plastic surgery results because they aren’t really seeing their body, and can’t see any changes to their body. These patients may seek serial plastic surgery operations trying to find satisfaction, which they rarely will. They may put themselves at risk and may suffer serious consequences. In dentistry, the results can be similar.
This research suggests that cosmetic dentists, like plastic surgeons, should factor in psychological factors when deciding whether a potential patient is a good candidate for cosmetic dentistry.