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Cosmetic Dentistry: gain without pain

Published:Monday | January 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Latoya Grindley, Gleaner Writer

Dr Anissa Holmes says the transformation of a smile can significantly improve appearance and boost self-confidence.

There are many international television make-over programmes that showcase the wonders of cosmetic dentistry and what it can do for the transformation of teeth, even the most crooked, without the use of braces. And you think, if only you were living abroad and were a celebrity or had loads of money to access these treatments. You also often see celebrities and models with perfectly aligned and pearly white teeth and you just continue wishing they were yours, or begin to accept that you won't ever be able to benefit from this type of dentistry.

However, getting perfect teeth without the use of braces isn't as far-fetched as you may think. Cosmetic dentistry has been available in Jamaica for some time now and Dr Anissa Holmes, one of the few cosmetic dentists in the island, has been transforming teeth and smiles into ones that are the envy of others.

Cosmetic dentistry changes the appearance of teeth, and involves their reshaping and contouring. It also encompasses teeth-lightening (whitening) and filling, using natural colour instead of the silver filling which many people know.

Regardless of the problem, cosmetic dentistry can fix it. However, Dr Holmes suggests that persons should explore the option of wearing braces, if the problem could possibly be rectified by wearing them. "For example, if the person has crooked teeth and braces can solve the problem, I will encourage them to have a consultation with an orthodontist. I would say that the best treatment would be braces because no significant work would have to be done on the teeth, as the orthodontist would just place brackets on the teeth. However, not many people like the idea of braces, especially the duration of time that they have to be kept in, and will then opt for cosmetic dentistry."

Smile transformation

Practising in this field for 10 years, the American moved to the island with her Jamaican husband who is also a dentist. Practising here for the past four years, Holmes says the reception to this line of dentistry has been going well, and people are exploring this method for smile transformation. "People want to look good, and I have definitely realised that Jamaicans pay close attention to looking good. In the same way that they pay special attention to fitness and their lifestyle, their smile is extremely important."

Also falling under the umbrella of cosmetic dentistry are different procedures which are carried out, according to the needs and desires of the patients. "I do consultation sessions with patients. This is where they come in and express their concerns to me, and I will do an assessment. Sometimes they may say they want veneers, but all they may need to get is reshaping. So we pretty much discuss their concerns in this session."

Among the different procedures, reshaping or bonding is considered the most minimal. This involves the use of a hand piece to sculpt the teeth, making them more parallel. "A filling material is used to fill in the tooth. It is very artistic, as we have to use this material for reshaping, resculpting and closing spaces. We also have to consider the blending of colours as teeth can have up to 72 different shades."

There is also teeth whitening which can literally take up to an hour. "Teeth whitening can take about an hour if it's done in office. For those who opt to do it at home, we give them a custom-made bleaching tray. The trays are like mouth guards but the strength is not as much as the gel we use in office, so it will take longer to work. When it is done in office, within an hour it is significantly whiter." She says the compliance rate is greater when teeth whitening is overseen by a dentist than when an over-the-counter whitening gel is bought.


Some of the more permanent types of cosmetic dentistry are veneers. This involves putting layers of porcelain onto the teeth. And while the other procedures are mostly done in a day, veneers take longer. "I have to take an impression of the teeth which is sent to the lab making the veneers. Temporary veneers have to be crafted for patients to wear while they wait between two to four weeks to return in office, to have their final veneers cemented."

To ensure that persons are sure about a particular procedure, a model photo is taken where they are shown a recreation of their own smile. Patients can also opt to pick the shape of teeth they desire through the smile design chart. Some have, however, gone very specific, often taking pictures of celebrities as examples.

Showing off her well aligned teeth during the interview, Holmes says people's lives have been changed just by the transformation of their teeth. "Some people, even with the temporary veneers cry when they see their smile. It is like their whole life has changed just by the procedure. Have you seen someone smiling, but is constantly hiding their teeth by holding their head down or is covering their mouth? Just imagine how they feel when that is rectified."

The cost for the different procedures vary according to the problem that needs correction, as well as the number of teeth.

Your smile is one of the first things people see, and can leave a lasting impression. So if you have had insecurities and are daunted by the duration of braces, then perhaps cosmetic dentistry could be your saving grace.

Get that Hollywood smile today, as part of your beauty investment, and as a treat for the new year. And once you have done it, remember to take great care in preserving that smile.

Left: Before cosmetic dentistry. Right: The results after veneers have been added, fixing all the flaws of the front teeth and closing of the gap.

Dr Anissa Holmes uses this chart to illustrate the various procedures that can be done to transform a smile through cosmetic dentistry.

A chart showcasing the different veneer options patients can choose from.