Kim Hagar loves her dentist. And why? “They do magic here!” Of course, like Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” So it is no surprise that, at The Dental Co. of Leesburg, (https://leesburgdentist.com/) it is Kim's own decisions combined with Dr. Josef Wollman's expertise that helped deliver her beautiful new smile.
Though Kim has been a patient of Dr. Wollman for nearly 7 years, it was in just the last two that she finally addressed the things she always disliked about her smile. “I wanted veneers for a really long time and decided that I would save up and treat myself."
Because veneers represented a substantial investment, she took Dr. Wollman’s advice to begin by straightening her teeth using Invisalign. Kim and Dental Assistant Gabriel Sigala bonded because Gabriel was himself a recipient of both Invisalign treatment and veneers. Both commiserated at times – the realignment of teeth can be painful, depending on how much correction is necessary – but Gabriel said, “It’s worth it. It really is. And beginning with Invisalign is the correct way to do it.”
In that context, he says the first criterion for success with Invisalign is leaving the clear, plastic braces on for 20-plus hours at a time. The most successful patients also will be diligent about cleaning and flossing their teeth regularly to make sure no bacteria can build up that could damage veneers from underneath.
Addressing any other restorations such as crowns or filling replacements all are precursors to veneers because patients’ teeth should be healthy and restored before addressing solutions that are principally cosmetic.
Whatever treatment plan is selected, Dr. Wollman presents the full cost upfront. That way, patients aren’t charged for individual visits, just for the final result. At each juncture, it is the patient who decides how far she needs to go. Kim credits acute listening on the part of Dr. Wollman’s dental technicians and assistants with helping her make what were for her the best possible choices.
"How they did it is still a bit of a mystery, but I'm thrilled. I just love, love what they did for me,” Kim says now. Since many patients may feel the same about what happens “behind the curtain,” we thought we’d try to take some of the mystery out of the process and break it down into its component parts.
For every patient the most basic question is, what kind of smile are you looking for?
If that answer involves teeth straightening, molds are made of your teeth and you’re fitted with custom Invisalign inserts that progressively help straighten them. Then comes a decision: teeth whitening or veneers? Many patents begin with more modest whitening efforts to see how much progress they can make that way. If patients opt for veneers, most want them to look natural but even that designation launches a review of photos of different styles of teeth varying in both shape and color.
Kim said the choices were daunting. “You wouldn't believe the number of decisions you are given to decide what each individual tooth can look like.” Even “white” is a variable that can include minute shades of blue or pink to add depth or temper the teeth’s reflective quality. Beyond color and shape, there’s also translucency. Some teeth have more or less translucency which is typically visible at the tips.
After the selection process, it’s again time to take impressions. These impressions are sent to the lab where they create a “wax-up” – literally a wax molding that allow you to see how the shape of veneers you’ve chosen will look on, though not their exact color. You can literally “try on” your smile before you make any final decisions! Kim did, and enjoyed the opportunity to show her kids and friends her new smile surreptitiously and over the course of a couple of weeks – just to see whether they would notice. “Most said, ‘you look different,’ but couldn’t put their finger on it,” she giggles.
The trial also gave Kim the confidence that what The Dental Company told her was true – “if it’s not exactly what you want, we’ll change it.”
One note about the lab – Dr. Wollman only uses one, and he was personally trained there in all the lab’s back-end processes so he knows exactly what happens each step along the way. One technique he perfected via this learning process was making sure that the veneers fit just under the gum line to prevent bacteria from attacking the finely beveled edge of the overlay.
Veneers always involve reducing your natural teeth enough to accept the veneer, but Dr. Wollman’s office is particularly conservative about preserving as much of the tooth structure as possible, because even the best veneers likely will need replacing every 20 years or so – more frequently in the absence of good hygiene. Kim says she was numb during the reduction, so didn’t feel it. On went her temporary smile.
Installation of permanent veneers takes a full day, but everything is laid out for maximum efficiency, and the process is made as comfortable as possible with blankets, warm neck pillows, aroma therapy and even a custom music selection.
As a mental health professional, Kim probably thought about her transformation more than most. She says the change for her was “not just on the surface. I just feel better about myself, maybe more confident. I just feel it from the inside out.”
"Kim has a new, positive energy. It’s hard to describe because she didn’t look bad before. It’s just her but at a new level, like Kim 2.0," says Gabriel
Dr. Wollman says, “For some people, the most important thing is function and longevity of their teeth. For other people, it's aesthetics. We just have to find out what's the most important thing for them? What matters to them is what matters to us.” So many patients use the word “trust” when they refer to Dr. Wollmann that we had to ask, what is it that he does to inspire this confidence?
"It's our number one value," he responds. "I think it starts with, if we say we're going to do something, we try our best to do that exact thing. The main part of trust for myself is probably having a servant mentality. The idea is to serve our patients and to serve our staff. It's not all about me, it's not all about this office, it's about getting our patients to where they want to be, whether it's a healthy mouth, a beautiful mouth, whatever it is that that they value, we want to get them there.”