Team Corner

October 6, 2015

The Best Smile Possible

When a patient decides to have cosmetic work done, the dental assistant can play an important role.  Most patients are excited and apprehensive, because of the changes they anticipate and the investment they are making.  They know what they don’t like about their smile and sometimes need help figuring out what’s best. The following is a protocol that can help you in assisting the patient and the laboratory in achieving the best smile possible.  These are some of the things assistants can do:

  • When you seat the patient listen, discuss (and write down) the patients wants and concerns
  • Inform the doctor of this information so that he/she is more prepared upon meeting the patient
  • Show them samples of crowns and veneers
  • Show them some before and after photos of restorations your office has already done
  • Ask them if they desire their new teeth to be whiter and go over the different shades
  • Sometimes patients regret not choosing the new crowns to be whiter, assistants can help them to make this decision early in the treatment planning
  • If they want their natural teeth to match the new crowns; explain the whitening process
  • Explain the prep appointment, temporization and final cementation; go over the time each takes.
  • Take study models and bite registration
  • Take digital photos
  • Take radiographs

Some of these things can be done at the initial appointment and sometimes there is a need for a second consultation.  Patients should always be fully informed of their treatment so that they, the doctor and the lab are all on the same page.

Most importantly, tell the patient that it’s alright to speak up if there is something they don’t like or understand.  Sometimes it’s easier for them to tell the assistant who can relay it to the doctor.


The laboratory appreciates all the information that is received to fabricate ideal restorations. They don’t always have the advantage of seeing the patient in person, so making sure they have detailed information will ensure they produce what the patient wants.  In addition to the impressions these things should be sent with the case:

  • Have the lab do a wax-up to help design the new smile (this is also something to present to the patient to show them their potential smile)
  • Digital photos that show:
    • full face smile
    • close up smile
    • left/right side view of the preps
    • retracted smile view *
    • photo with the temporaries *
    • photo with shade tab *
    • stump shade photo *
      • *necessary photos
  • Make sure the lab slip has been thoroughly written with all special instructions added
  • A photo from the patient of teeth they like; from a magazine, family pictures, celebrities, etc..
  • Bite registration
  • Opposing model
  • Pre-op model
  • Coordinate the patient to visit the lab for a shade match (if the lab is located locally)

Making sure to follow this protocol will provide the patient with “the best smile possible”.