No one likes the look of wrinkles or sagging skin especially when they mar the look of a smile that has been newly improved by teeth whitening, veneers, implants or other dental procedures.
Cosmetic dentist J. Michael Williams has an answer for his dental patients who want to look their best by minimizing mouth lines, lifting a drooping lip or smoothing the skin of nasal labial folds that may appear even more visible after a dental procedure has improved the look of their teeth.
Williams, who practices in New Albany, IN, said a person’s smile is not only dramatically affected by their teeth, but by the wrinkles, appearance of their lips and folds around their mouths.
That’s why Williams has become a member of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics. He has taken three levels of training offered by the academy and treats patients who express interest in Botox® or Dermal Fillers, an injectable gel that restores the skin’s volume and smooths wrinkles.
Williams believes in taking a comprehensive approach to helping patients improve their smiles. He has dubbed it a “neck up makeover,” which means that, in addition to improving their teeth, he studies patients’ lips and faces, and might treat them with Botox® or Dermal Fillers.
He also has built relationships with local hair salons and a nearby Sephora store and refers patients who are interested in getting a new cut or hair color or makeup to complement their new smiles.
Nearly 60 percent of Williams’ patients are women, and often they are open to the idea of the neck up makeover.
“Not all people have an eye or can visualize what hairstyles look or colors of makeup look good on them,” he said. “This can help them see the possibilities.”
Williams first tested the idea of doing a neck up makeover for a patient for whom he was providing a new set of dentures. She was in her late 40s, had been taking care of her elderly mother, and had little time or money to spend on her appearance.
“She signed a contact with me that said we’re going to the makeover,” he said. “The contract stated that we were going to let her have some say-so, but we wanted to give her the best look we could.”
He worked closely with the dental lab that made her dentures, and reached out to a hair stylist and cosmetician, both of whom offered their services for free to give the woman a makeover.
Williams took before and after pictures and used them in ads. He also discovered that networking with hair salons and cosmeticians could be a way to build his business – a practice that he has since continued.
“I’m marketing and trying to build a network with them,” Williams said.
He keeps a video of the makeover on a TV in his waiting room, and also has brochures available on Botox® and Dermal Fillers for patients to look at. He finds that patients increasingly are asking him about their teeth and about what else they can do to improve their appearance.
“I have a lot of patients asking me questions (about cosmetic procedures),” he said. “I’m becoming a lip man. My goal is to become a lip expert.”
He said the skills of cosmetic dentistry transfer easily to those of used doing Botox® and dermal fillers.
“In dental school I learned the anatomy of the head and neck better than my friends in medical school did,” he said.
Dentists also are at ease using a needle.
“I have a needle in my hand every single hour of every single day,” he said. “I’m able to provide an experience for a patient where they don’t feel any pain.”
He does all of the Botox® and Dermal Fillers procedures himself unlike at some plastic surgeons’ or dermatologists’ offices where staff other than the doctor may do them.
“I’m not delegating it to a nurse,” he said.
Williams said his training with the American Academy of Facial Esthetics has been extensive, and he now serves as a mentor to others.
“I go to classes where people are learning about Botox® and Dermal Fillers and help with the hands-on portion of the class,” he said.
When necessary, he will refer a patient to a physician.
“I can’t correct some things,” he said. “Sometimes I need to say, ‘You need to go to a plastic surgeon.’”
Williams said his wife, Jean, first encouraged him to think a bit outside of the box by offering the Botox® and Dermal Fillers procedures.
“She wanted to do this,” he said. “She wants to look good. She’s first in line to get everything done.”
He said he is fascinated by TV makeover shows, and has focused on being able to understand and provide solutions for the concerns his patients may have about their appearance.
“I believe what’s in a person’s heart is the most important thing,” he said. “But why not look your best?”