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Holiday Smile Makeover
Need not be
Healthy Teeth
Updated: 1/18/2005 2:45:25 PM

The American Dental Association (ADA) urges people considering procedures to brighten and enhance their smiles for the holiday season to first make sure that their mouths are healthy.

ADA consumer advisor Dr. Matthew Messina says patients increasingly are looking to cosmetic dental procedures as part of sprucing up for the holidays, or even as gifts for loved ones.

Demand for tooth-whitening, veneers and other smile-enhancing procedures has increased dramatically in recent years, a trend that TV shows such as "Extreme Makeover" may be fueling. Dr. Messina, a practicing general dentist in the Cleveland area, thinks these shows may create the

misimpression that changes to the smile must be extreme to be effective.

"Even the most subtle change in your smile can make a dramatic difference in the way you look and feel about yourself," he says. "And you don't have to go to Park Avenue or Rodeo Drive. Your own dentist can help you decide

which procedures are appropriate and within your budget."

But remember that a healthy mouth is more important than a "movie-star" smile, says Dr. Messina. He advises patients to undergo a routine exam, which includes checking for tooth decay, periodontal (gum) diseases, oral cancer, worn fillings and other changes in one's teeth and gums.

"See your dentist before embarking on changing it, including with over-the-counter products," cautions Dr. Messina.

"Once you know your mouth is healthy, you and your dentist can discuss ways to brighten, shape or sculpt your smile," Dr. Messina says.



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