Rekindling your Passion for Cosmetic Dentistry

Passion, both personal and professional, is a fuel that when paired with desire and hunger, can and will bring about the greatest results, achievements, and fulfillment in life. It’s not far-fetched for a dentist to feel burnt out, detached, or lose passion over time in their careers. I once lost the passion I carried for dentistry in my career, and it took a deep dive into my interests and the fundamentals to rekindle the fire that has driven my thirst to learn at every opportunity. If you feel as if you’ve begun to lose the spark that ignited your career in dentistry, let’s look at steps one can take to reignite that fire, and maintain it for years to come.

My passion for drawing is a trait that will never leave my soul. I still carry small sketchbooks around with me, so I can draw when the mood strikes. Being creative is what drew me to focus my career on the cosmetic aspect of dentistry for over 3 decades. This passion started when I realized I needed to learn the fundamentals of cosmetic dentistry.

If you believe that you know cosmetic dentistry fundamentals, and believe that you’re ready to graduate to more advanced topics, it may do you good to go back and review the fundamentals again. In the article “Gaining A Basic Understanding of the Subject” by Theall, Wager, and Svinicki on, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student learning in higher education, they say that the “acquisition of basic information upon which more complex learning relies” is key before moving on to advanced studies. If the fundamentals are ingrained in us, we understand what is truly important and how to prioritize the advanced intricacies of our craft. A famous quote from one of my former art teachers is very applicable. He said, “One of the things masters have in common is they never tire of re-engaging the fundamentals.”

What lengths would you go to achieve your highest potential in cosmetic dentistry? I used to practice with a very famous and talented cosmetic dentist on the East Coast. One day we were talking (I always listened to hear any pearl of wisdom), and he told me in his younger years that he took a make-up class to learn facial form and aesthetics to achieve the desired appearance. He then applied this to tooth form and smile development. This taught me to never stop looking for ways to improve, especially outside of the infrastructure of traditional dental education.

As mentioned previously, drawing is one of my first loves. But did switching from analog (pencil and paper) and getting a digital tablet and stylus (iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil) make me a better artist? No, and it’s the same with dentistry. There are no shortcuts to true comprehension of a subject. No digital tool or app is going to make you better unless you grasp the fundamentals entirely. Having a digital scanner doesn’t result in better impressions if you can’t create smooth margins and manage soft tissue properly. The digital design of restoration doesn’t make it better if you don’t know the fundamentals of occlusion and functional movements. One of the first continuing education classes I attended in the early ’90s spoke to this idea of analog dentistry. The presenter said that if you really want to know how good or bad you are, you should pour your own impressions of your crown and bridge work for six months. Well, I did, and it was a humbling experience. Today, that is not necessary because of digital scanners that can provide us instant feedback on our preps and soft tissue retraction. This is an invaluable source for us to improve our skills because we can then correct our mistakes and take another scan within minutes.

Regarding skills, an often overlooked, yet imperative skill set, or fundamental for practitioners is the art of listening. I say art because you have to be able to keenly listen and read between the lines a lot of the time when trying to understand your patient. There is a reason why the words “listen” and “silent” are spelled using the same letters. Think about it, listening shows you care, and that develops trust with your patient. In Dr. Steffany Mohan’s article “ 5 Ways a Dentist Can Increase Patient Referrals”, she states that “referrals from existing patients account for two-thirds of dental practices’ new patients.” With that in mind, the rapport that you and your staff build with existing patients is a foundation of your practice. Gaining new patients means that you and your practice are consistently creating new smiles in your community. Impacting the lives of others is one of the most rewarding feelings we can experience as dentists, and we do it every day.

Passion exists when we are doing something meaningful for others and for ourselves. Cosmetic Dentistry can provide patients with passion, the fuel to smile again and change their overall personality and perspective, introducing them to the confidence they have so longed for. For the practitioners, it’s what we were made for, to serve others. That is our purpose and we should feel nothing but gratitude and an overflow of passion that we get to do this for a living.

About the Author:

Dr. Christopher Pescatore is a national and international lecturer who has written articles for numerous publications, including Practical Periodontics and Aesthetic Dentistry, Profiles, Dentistry Today, Compendium, Dental Economics, and Inside Dentistry. He lectures on state-of-the-art aesthetic procedures, CAD/CAM techniques, and materials and holds a U.S. patent for a non-metallic post system to restore endodontically-treated teeth. Dr. Pescatore is a past member of the Board of Directors and the editorial team member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), former Clinical Co-Director, and former featured lecturer at Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. He is also the past instructor of the Advanced Aesthetic Program at New York University – College of Dentistry, the Aesthetic Continuum at Baylor College of Dentistry, and the Aesthetic Program at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Pescatore is a graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – New Jersey Dental School.

Scroll to Top