A smile is one of the first features people notice when they look at your face. For some, this could be a great source of pride, but for me, this caused pain and embarrassment.
Seeking out Dr Sam Thandar, whom I refer to as The Tooth Whisperer, resulted in a smile makeover that was really something worth Smiling about!
I’ve always been aware of my teeth and my smile – they were skew and decay ridden – and with every half-hearted attempt at a smile or laugh, I felt awkward and uncomfortable as this feeling of insecurity stuck with me.
I recently stumbled across some research that actually proves the impact a smile can have on our emotional, psychological and physical health. A happy smile, whether you’re actually feeling happy at the time or not, releases endorphins, serotonin and other biochemical substances in the body.
If you ever Google search the term “the advantages of smiling” – literally thousands of articles will pop up. There are more benefits of smiling than we realise.
In all fairness, it’s not that my teeth looked like I lived on a pirate ship, far far away from any toothbrushes and toothpaste. In fact, I looked after them very well – brushing twice a day, flossing and mouth washing. I just happened to be born with weak teeth, genetically and orthodontically designed to decay.
My luck, however, took a turn for the better when the opportunity arose to see Dr Sam Thandar, who owns the Aesthetic Dentist Practice in Rosebank, Johannesburg. You can only imagine the level of joy I felt making that first appointment with him – he was going to give me a cosmetic dentistry makeover, and I was finally going to have the white, straight and healthy-looking teeth I yearned for.
The man, first and foremost, is as I like to call him, a Tooth Whisperer – a highly specialised Aesthetic Dentist, offering cosmetic as well as general dentistry. He has a wealth of knowledge and incredible experience behind him, underpinned by a team of nurses that make Florence Nightingale look bad.
My first appointment was very much a “let’s see what we’re dealing with here” and entailed loads of pictures of the inside of my mouth and digital x-rays (these are available on-screen immediately). From there, the Tooth Whisperer created a treatment plan that would have my teeth in tip top shape.
I loved the fact that this treatment plan was a collaborative effort. Dr Thandar made a point of asking me exactly how I wanted my teeth to look, and after he received my wish list he then tied them in with his ideas and expertise.
Dr Thandar has an absolute knowledge of teeth and structural smile, much like a mathematician and the Golden Ratio – he aims to turn your smile into one that is perfectly proportionate to your face, giving you a look that is aesthetically pleasing and natural.
A few weeks after the first appointment, we began with Stage one of my dental makeover – a two hour Zoom Teeth Whitening procedure (well known for its appearance on the TV series “Extreme Make-over”).
To start, your teeth and gums are prepped and a special lip retractor is placed into the mouth. Far from being an unpleasant intrusion, the idea is for the retractor to do the work for you by keeping your mouth wide open without the constant effort on your part. A gel is then applied to the teeth and activated by a UV lamp in spouts of 15 minute sessions. The amount of 15 minute sessions you have in one sitting is dependent on the whiteness you hope to achieve. We chose to have my teeth one shade lighter than a Hollywood Sparkle (three and a half sessions), so that I could maintain a naturalness to their white shade.
The procedure itself is very straightforward and painless – however, the after effect, in terms of tooth sensitivity, is not for sissies. It was like biting into an ice cream non-stop for three hours, but luckily, over the counter painkillers helped and the sensitivity wore off fairly quickly during the day and was completely gone by bedtime. I must say the results are completely worth it. I didn’t realise my teeth were that discoloured until I saw the before and after pictures. Quite astounding.
Crowns for Immediate Beautiful Teeth
For seven days after the whitening procedure, I was instructed not to have coffee, red wine, or any other kind of colour stained foods (beetroot, curry etc.). But not even coffee-deprivation could dampen my excitement for Stage Two of the treatment plan: a five hour procedure that would completely transform my top front six teeth, by means of ceramic crowns.
Now, to be honest, five hours is no one’s idea of a walk in the park, but I wasn’t scared at all. Dr Thandar prepared my mouth and gums with all sorts of happy-making anaesthetics and I couldn’t feel a thing. There’s even a TV on the ceiling of his rooms so that patients can relax and watch VH1 “So 80’s” while he and his nursing fairies get to work.
Before I knew it, my teeth were nearly done – all the decay had been removed and the tooth structures were reduced all the way around to make space for the ceramic crowns to be fitted over the existing teeth.
Now this is the best part – the ceramic crowns (caps) were made right in front of my face. Dr Thandar owns and uses a wonderful machine (called the Cerec CAD/CAM) that allows him to design the new caps on a computer. This “Design” is then sent to a laser cutting machine in the next room, where a ceramic block is placed. While you’re in the chair, this machine lasers down the ceramic block into the shape of the tooth that is your cap. And that’s it. Five minutes per tooth and none of this nonsense of having temporary caps put on while you wait weeks for the lab to make your crowns. You can now walk in and out the SAME day with a brand new smile!
To get technical about the crowns, Dr Thandar makes use of Ivoclar Emax and Ivoclar Empress Ceramic Crowns that are world renowned ceramic material. These crowns replace the enamel portion of your tooth – they are also metal free which allows light to pass through like a natural tooth, and offers the best in terms of aesthetics, strength and durability. Ceramic crowns avoid having that “dark metal” look around the tooth that starts to show after a few years.
Better yet, the naked eye cannot differentiate between a natural tooth and a full ceramic porcelain crown, without any compromise to your bite capacity or function of your teeth.
Additionally, the ceramic tooth is guaranteed not to chip or stain. You can literally gargle red wine for days, or drive over these things, without a stain or mark left on them.
If you have unsightly, discoloured, chipped or misshapen teeth, these crowns are your answer to a perfect new smile. They allow you to reshape, re-contour, and straighten your teeth. They do come with a warning though: get them and you may start to experience cheek cramps from smiling non-stop.
I can vouch for the cheek cramping, because I have not stopped smiling since my front six teeth were capped with the new ceramic crowns. The first time I looked in the mirror – I couldn’t believe how the dimensions of my new smile changed the shape of my face ever so slightly, yet made an astounding difference.
The Final Result
Dr Thandar gave me such a natural looking smile by not making my teeth 100% aligned or Hollywood bright. In fact, that evening after having them done I had dinner with some friends and most of them didn’t even notice. They could tell something was different about me but they couldn’t quite figure out what it was.
My Teeth: Before and After
Dr Thandar is most definitely a leader in the South African dentistry arena. His extensive knowledge and 13 years of experience show clearly in the incredible work he has done on my teeth.
In addition to his Tooth Whispering abilities, he will be one of the first dentists in South Africa to bring a new technology to rid teeth of decay by laser (as opposed to using a drill). This new technique, which he will bring back with him from overseas, will cut out much time and discomfort for patients.
When I left Dr Thandar’s rooms that day, half my mouth was still numb from the anaesthetic (talking was an interesting feat), and I couldn’t help but notice a massive sense of relief in myself. Finally, finally, my teeth were as I always dreamed they would be.
From that moment on, with every smile I’ve given – I haven’t needed to fake the happiness factor to cover up my nerves. Every meeting I go to and every conversation I have is completely unreal and joyous.
My self-esteem, confidence, and with that quality of life, has been forever uplifted by Dr Thandar and his team, and I will be eternally grateful.
To book an appointment with Dr Sam Thandar, contact the Aesthetic Dentist:
Address: 17 Bath Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196
Tel: 011 788 2701
Written by A2 Magazine Blog Editor: Rochelle Friedman