Smile Makeovers: Cosmetic or Reconstructive Dentistry?

by Joe Bulger DDS

Remember that Extreme Makeover TV series? Or that knockoff one called The Swan?

Enjoy a beautiful smile with cosmetic dentistry. Enjoy the benefits of a beautiful smile.

Participants in the show would have their appearance transformed with the help of Plastic Surgeons, Cosmetic Dentists, Hair Stylists, Make-up Specialists,  Clothing Designers and whomever else it took. The results would be breathtaking and there would be plenty of tears with family and friends.

It seemed magical, in a plastic-Barbie sort of way. The great thing was those shows woke up the public to the remarkable potential of Cosmetic Dentistry and Smile Makeovers. Everyone could see how changes to a smile would often be the most dramatic transformation of all.

Cosmetic Dentistry vs. Reconstructive

As a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist, I find that people think of changing a smile mostly in terms of the cosmetic improvement. Yet, that’s often only part of the outcome. In fact, the cosmetic benefits are often just the icing on the cake in the overall reconstruction of a broken-down set of teeth.

With Reconstructive Dentistry, teeth that are worn-down to little stumps can be made whole again. Big gaps from missing teeth can be filled in. Function, health and stability can be all restored.

Sad beginnings can be transformed into happy endings. That’s the REAL story for both Reconstructive Dentistry and Smile Makeovers.

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Smile Makeovers and Smile Enhancement…

Think of it as rebuilding a house versus a new roof and a paint job.

Smile Makeovers are usually considered a form of Cosmetic Dentistry, because the smile is transformed. I would say that Smile Makeovers often fall more into the realm of Reconstructive Dentistry. Severely broken or missing teeth are restored with implants, crowns and bridges. The smile is rebuilt as part of the overall reconstruction.

The big question is, “What is the primary intent of the dentistry?” If it’s done for cosmetic gain alone, then that’s Cosmetic Dentistry. If it’s restoring health, function, longevity AND aesthetics, that’s Reconstructive Dentistry.

Think of it as rebuilding a house versus a new roof and a paint job.

Here’s the thing. Some people are willing to jump on board for reconstructive work if they can justify it for health reasons. Meanwhile, they would instantly dismiss Cosmetic Dentistry as vain or frivolous. They draw the line on their reason for treatment and withhold permission for beauty.

Personally, I prefer dropping the word “Dentistry” right out of the equation because, let’s face it, nobody actually WANTS any dentistry done. They’re only willing to ENDURE the dentistry to get the outcomes they want. What they really want is a healthy beautiful smile.

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A Smile Makeover by any other name looks just as captivating…

Here’s how I see it…

If I’m transforming your smile from broken to WOW, that’s more than just enhancement.

  • Health AND beauty can be achieved simultaneously. So why quibble?
  • When the plan is to take your smile from good to great, I like to think of the dental work as Smile Enhancement.
  • If I’m transforming your smile from broken to WOW, that’s more than just enhancement. That’s a Complete Smile Makeover.
  • If you’re somewhat touchy about the cosmetic aspect, I’ll call it Smile Reconstruction instead.

Any way you say it, a Smile Makeover can improve your health and give you that fabulous smile you always dreamed of.

Signature for a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist.

Dr. Joe :)

Dr. Joe Bulger

About the Author: is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stouffville Dental May 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

According to me your blog gives the useful information regarding cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry.


2 Eve Calixte August 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Hello my name is Eve and I am in dire need to get my teeth fixed.i am a full-time student working minimum wage with a limited health insurance.i would love to get my teeth fixed but unfortunately i don’t have the means to tackle that task on my own.i have been dealing with low self-esteem and confidence to say the least .i am really embarrassed by my smile.My boyfriend of two years talk about us getting married but he kept telling me that i need to get my teeth fixed in order for us to foresee a future.My parents always keep bringing it up.It’s that noticeable i feel so bashful about it.I wished i could fix it myself but i can’t.Please help, i have a horrible year was pregnant with identical twins and 13 weeks within the pregnancy i miscarried.My life has came to a complete stop.I have finally muster some strenght to pick myself up wanting to go back to school and get my nursing degree and looking at pretty much anywhere to see where i can get the help to fix my teeth.I would be the happiest girl on this earth and be able to sing my favorite song by Alecia keys”Can’t wait to see me smile”.Please feel free to contact me anytime preferably via cell 413-231-8472.I live in lynn ma.So i’m not sure whether or not i would be qualify for this.Thank you and I look to hear from you.


3 Leeann Alvarez May 8, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Hi my name is Leeann Alvarez. I’ve had bad teeth since I was a kid. It’s so embarrassing their painful. It hurts to eat. I cry everyday because I can’t smile like a normal person or wat like a normal person. I feel like when I laugh or smile people focus on on my teeth. I’ve been to so many dentist and a lot of them turn me down Just want to pull my teeth. I have like 16 left 14 are crowned. My wish is that I could get a dental makeover. That would make me the happiest girl on earth. The price of dental work for my self is way out of my price range. Pretty soon I will be teethless. I dread these days. Please help .. I can’t put into words what this would mean to me . Could never express my gratitude or appreciation.


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