How Cosmetic Imaging Is Used in Smile Makeover Treatments

Smile Makeover Plano, TX

A smile makeover can dramatically change someone's appearance and self-esteem, but visualizing a new smile is not easy. Dentists can recommend appropriate treatment options and help patients design or preview smile options with the help of cosmetic imaging.

Examples of how dentists use cosmetic imaging

Cosmetic dentists use various technologies to gain a complete view of a patient's mouth. Sharing and analyzing images with patients promotes informed treatment decisions.

Digital radiography

Unlike traditional X-rays, digital radiography captures images of teeth for immediate transfer to a computer monitor. This technology is highly beneficial when applied to a smile makeover. It provides the highest possible image resolution and allows the dentist to manipulate shading and magnification to detect the subtlest details that may affect a proposed esthetic procedure.

Caries detector imagery

A cosmetic dentist can determine a patient's candidacy for some cosmetic procedures by using a handheld dental camera that shines a light on the teeth while photographing them. Then, the dentist processes the images through a software program that highlights enamel weakness, making teeth prone to cavity formation. The photos can help dentists rule out a patient's candidacy for teeth whitening or determine where veneers would be most helpful.

Cone-beam computed tomography

In the past, dentists would take impressions by having patients bite into a bendable tray filled with a paste-like material that would harden into the shape of the teeth. Digital software can produce images that provide better detail than traditional impressions. A dentist uses a scanning tool that emits a cone-shaped X-ray beam to capture still or video images of a patient's mouth and jaw. A software program processes the images to create a three-dimensional view on a computer monitor. Digital impressions are more comfortable for patients and can be instantly corrected or emailed to laboratories, reducing the time necessary to complete a cosmetic procedure.

3-dimensional face scanning

Cosmetic dentists can use high-fidelity cameras that move around a patient's head, capturing multiple images from various angles while the patient performs mouth movements such as smiling. Then, the images pass through a software program that instantly assembles them into a three-dimensional rendering. Finally, the dentist superimposes these images with the cone-beam pictures of the teeth to facilitate designing the patient's smile makeover.

3-dimensional model images

Many dentists are starting to use advanced three-dimensional printing methods to produce realistic models while patients are present. Three-dimensional printing machines can produce 16-micron thick models based upon images acquired from cone-beam scans. In addition, renderings obtained from a three-dimensional printer are more accurate and easy to modify than hand-made models in a laboratory.

Shade-matching imagery

One of the most challenging aspects of cosmetic dentistry involves color matching prosthetics to natural teeth. Accurate color matching is vital to a beautiful smile, and until recently, it relied upon a dentist's eye to select a color from a chart. This method is no longer necessary, thanks to software programs that eliminate guesswork and errors by extracting precise colors and shades from digital images of a patient's teeth. 


A successful smile makeover involves a customized treatment approach for every dental patient.  Cosmetic imaging technology is indispensable for achieving favorable results to please anyone. 

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