Advantages and disadvantages of smile design: what you should know

When looking for a beautiful and radiant expression, smile design is an increasingly sought-after alternative. However, you should know that this procedure has some risks.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Smile Design: What You Should Know

Last update: 18 June, 2022

Smile design is a dental procedure that has gained popularity in recent times. It is common to find promotions and advertisements of this method in social networks showing the before and after of different dentures.

Nowadays, people are more and more concerned about looking beautiful and young. And the smile is one more aspect to beautify. Therefore, new strategies are appearing in dentistry that seek to satisfy this concern of patients.

But the truth is that this type of intervention in the mouth is quite controversial. Some dentists offer it as an excellent alternative to improve the appearance of the smile. But others reject it and label it as a harmful fashion.

In this article we explain what smile design consists of, its advantages, disadvantages and the risks involved. In addition, we clarify in which cases it could be an advisable alternative. Find out more.

What is smile design?

Smile design consists of changing the structure of the teeth using different dental procedures to enhance the esthetic characteristics of the teeth. It considers the shape of the teeth, their texture, color, the relationship between the different elements and the functionality of the mouth.

The objective of this type of intervention acts on three levels:

  1. Dental: seeks harmony between teeth.
  2. Smile: try to find a balanced relationship between teeth, gums and lips.
  3. Facial: seeks to find a balance between teeth, smile and face.

The dentist has different strategies to achieve the desired smile. Deep professional cleanings, teeth whitening treatments, placement of veneers or resin or porcelain crowns, orthodontics and gingivoplasty are some of the interventions used to achieve the desired objective. Surgery and implant placement may also be necessary.

Some procedures are more invasive or slower than others. And depending on the needs of each case, all, several or just one may be applied.

Planning the ideal smile

You should know that before starting with the smile design it is necessary for the professional to make an accurate diagnosis of the conditions of the mouth. In order to determine your needs and plan the treatments.

Digital Smile Design (DSD) technology is used for the diagnosis, which employs special software to plan the treatment and show the patient the possible results. An intraoral scan of the mouth, intraoral and extraoral photos from different perspectives and radiographs are taken. With these resources the proportions and symmetry between the different elements can be studied.

This information is transferred to the computer to make the digital design. In this way, a new digital smile is virtually created with the ideal proportions of how the teeth should be positioned and how they should look. Considering both esthetics and function.

In the planning stage it is very important to also take into account the patient’s expectations. This avoids misunderstandings and frustrations in the future.

Depending on the needs of each case, the appropriate treatments will be indicated to achieve the final objective of improving the appearance and function of the smile. As we said, veneers, implants, crowns, orthodontics or whitening can be used.

It is important that the dentist explains in detail each step of the process and the implications and risks of each of the procedures to be performed.

When is a smile design indicated?

A dentist will be in charge of determining whether a smile design is the right strategy for the patient to achieve what he/she wants and what he/she needs. The goal is to arrive at a mouth that looks beautiful, yet is functional and remains healthy.

However, there are some situations in the mouth that may indicate that smile design may be a possibility to improve the appearance of the dentition. For example, when there are fractured or chipped teeth or to treat teeth with stains that are not removed with teeth whitening.

It is also useful to solve problems of very worn, small and short dental elements or gingival hyperplasia. And to treat malocclusions caused by the size or position of the teeth.

Advantages of smile design

Smile design is a treatment that can change the quality of life of patients for the better. The key is to use it only when the case warrants it. And that it is performed by an experienced professional, applying the appropriate techniques and excellent quality materials.

This combination of procedures offers several benefits:

  • Detailed planning: the smile design allows a thorough study of the patient’s health, esthetics and oral and dental functions. Then the color, size, shape and position of the teeth are planned in a personal way, determining the necessary treatments to achieve it.
  • It uses advanced technology: to perform a digital smile design, state-of-the-art equipment and software are used. This tool is characterized for being comfortable for the patient and for the accuracy of the results.
  • It allows the patient to preview the possible result: the patient can see the possible results on the computer before starting the treatment. This favors the acceptance of some therapies.
  • Improves the physical appearance: with this type of treatment it is possible to find and search for the best smile for each patient. One that is in harmony with the rest of the face.
  • Strengthens self-esteem: wearing the desired smile generates greater confidence in the patient. This increases their security and confidence when speaking and smiling.
  • Improves oral health: clean, restored and properly positioned teeth make it easier to maintain oral health.


At the time of undergoing a smile design and the procedures that this process involves, some risks and complications may appear. These are minimized if the care is provided by an experienced professional.

Also if an adequate previous diagnosis and an exhaustive study of the clinical case is carried out. And therapies are done respecting the time they require.

But many times, despite the care, there are some negative consequences for oral health:

  • Weakening of the dental root: it usually occurs when orthodontic treatments are performed in short periods of time. When tooth movement occurs at an accelerated rate, the roots are resorbed and the elements lose their correct anchorage within the bone. This will cause mobility of the teeth and even their loss in the future.
  • Fractures: the use of poorly designed or very heavy veneers or crowns generates inadequate pressures and forces that can splinter and even fracture the teeth.
  • Accumulation of bacterial plaque: by modifying the shape of the teeth without respecting the rest of the oral anatomy, bacterial plaque can become trapped without being able to be removed. This causes other oral problems, such as gingivitis, periodontitis and bad breath.
  • Lack of naturalness: some smile designs err on the side of extravagance or perfection. The results are teeth that are too white, too bright, too straight or all the same size, giving an unnatural appearance to the mouth.
  • Sensitivity: Excessive bleaching, excessive wear to place veneers or very extensive caps that generate too much pressure on the teeth can affect the dental pulp. Pain or sensitivity when eating very cold, hot or sweet foods indicates that something has gone wrong.
  • Veneer breakage: when very large veneers are placed that affect occlusion or are used in patients with bite problems, these tooth coverings can break.
  • Staining and new stains: some veneers become pigmented over time and lose their brightness. Therefore, they need to be changed with some frequency.

The risks of a bad smile design

As we advanced, smile design is considered by many professionals as a method that attempts against oral health. And it is governed more by the interests of the market than by the care of the mouth.

Some specialists in oral rehabilitation claim that this trend is a product of social pressures and is based on unrealistic stereotypes of beauty. Thus, many people are concerned about quickly and effectively achieving that perfect smile worn by celebrities.

Although this differs from what is natural and implies undergoing inadequate, poorly performed or unnecessary treatments, people see straight, white smiles on television and believe that this is what is natural and beautiful. But teeth are not square; they have slight curvatures and are not all the same size.

When resorting to a smile design treatment, one must be aware of this reality. And you should look for a professional who is focused on taking care of the health of the mouth and not only satisfy the patient’s expectations or his own pocket.

The dentist in charge should use this procedure only in cases where it is appropriate. As we told you, sometimes this practice is able to significantly improve the health, function and appearance of the smile.

Therefore, if you are looking to improve the aesthetics of the mouth, it is essential to go to a dentist you trust. You must be sure that the professional will look after your oral health before the costs that these treatments usually have.

Falling into inexperienced hands or those who seek to perform unnecessary treatments can have very negative consequences for oral health. Tooth grinding to cover them with white and square veneers, for example, will not only result in an unnatural smile, but will also have eliminated dental tissue that will not recover.

And many times, to solve the problems generated by these poorly performed or unnecessary smile designs, it is necessary to resort to more invasive and radical therapies. And by the way, causing a new economic expense to the patient.

Opt for smile design with knowledge

Now you know that smile design is a possible alternative when looking for the oral appearance we want. Because the combination of advanced technology and aesthetic procedures allows us to achieve beauty, functionality and health.

But for this it is necessary to be realistic and not be fooled by advertisements that promise beautiful smiles in 24 hours. Or that pretend to place veneers that cover all the teeth and hide the problems in exchange for unnatural teeth.

Choosing the dentist very well is key to avoid inconveniences and preserve, above all, oral health. Previous studies, respecting the time of each procedure and the use of appropriate materials and techniques help to reduce complications.

Knowing the possible risks and what each treatment involves is key to be able to choose this type of treatment with knowledge. If your dentist proposes a smile design to solve the problems in your mouth, you will already know what to expect.

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