19-year-old Erin Habib has never liked to smile, especially not for a camera.
“If you look really close, there’s little dents in it, in between the teeth, there’s yellow stains, that’s more obvious,” she says, describing her smile.
Erin’s dentist believes she damaged her teeth by “eating” toothpaste as a child. Too much fluoride can do that kind of damage, he says.
But Erin fears people might get the wrong idea. “I was afraid they’d look at my teeth and see yellow, and think I didn’t brush my teeth enough,” she says.
Frustrated, Erin has come to Dr. Kurt Doolin in Rochester Hills for a dental makeover.
She says she’s got one wish, “to have a smile where I can wear red lipstick and not have yellow teeth.”
Dr. Doolin already tried bleaching and another technique on Erin’s teeth, but those treatments didn’t work. Now she’s taking the more drastic step of getting porcelain veneers.
“If you think of a fake fingernail, how it fits up against your cuticle, well these are made to fit perfectly against a prepared tooth,” Doolin explains.
During Erin’s first visit, a mold of her mouth is taken. A ceramist then works to create a whole new look for her to see. On her next visit, after numbing her Dr. Doolin “lasers” Erin’s gumline, evening out the height of her teeth. That alone can make a big difference.
Add in the veneers, and the change becomes dramatic.
“While she’s in the chair,” Doolin says, “we’ll be reducing the front surface of her teeth, only by the amount needed to get the final angulation we’re looking for.” Temporary veneers are then put on, followed 2 weeks later by the real thing.
As for Erin, a month after her initial visit she’s got her new look, and loves it.
“I’m really happy,” she says, “they look natural.”
And what about that red lipstick?
Funnily enough, after trying the color she decided it wasn’t the shade for her. She’ll find one that works. As a young college student, she’s ready to face the future confident in her new smile.
The veneer procedure comes at a price, however. Veneers can cost from $800 to $1200 a tooth.