When Mitali Lakhani’s wedding date was postponed a few months to May this year, the young advertising professional used the bonus time on her hands to ‘brighten her smile’ for her big day. Initially hesitant about visiting a dentist, she was coaxed by her fiancé, a resident of Bandra West in Mumbai, to visit the neighbourhood SmileBar. Four days before her wedding, Lakhani had a 15-minute ‘cosmetic teeth-whitening’ treatment—their regular ‘Bridal Package’ is priced INR 16,995 and has three sessions—and was thrilled with the result. She’s not alone. The burgeoning ‘smile’ industry—an offshoot of aesthetic dentistry—has given many other clients, both young and old, good reason to smile wider.
Dr Ekta Chadha, a smile designer and aesthetic dental surgeon, starts every new ‘bridal’ project with a series of photographs—side profiles, forehead, mid-face, lip profile, lower face, and ‘smile window’ (the number of visible teeth). “Everyone comes with different issues,” she explains, showing a picture of the ‘golden proportion’—where the gentle curve of the upper teeth goes exactly along the shape of the lower lip. The perfect wedding photograph may not only need fixing the teeth but may sometimes also involve cosmetic surgery to add or remove dimples in the cheeks, clefts in the chin, and fillers in the lips, all of which are taken care of at her Smile Studio in New Delhi. Teeth can play a remarkable role in taking you from looking ‘soft’ to ‘youthful’ to ‘aggressive’, she says, and smile designing can take you closer to your ideal no matter what your age. “Girls also like to get a Swarovski on one tooth for special events,” she adds. Her Bridal Package, priced INR 45,000 plus taxes, includes cosmetic contouring, smile design, unlimited fillings, scaling and polishing, zoom whitening, aesthetic braces, and an at-home bleach kit.
Bleaching, in fact, is the most popular treatment by far. The reason, says Dr Chadha, is that Indians tend to have yellower teeth. “Teeth whitening is a simple cosmetic procedure if done right using a proper teeth-whitening gel and an appropriate teeth-whitening accelerator light,” further explains Farraz Patel, managing director, Smile Labs. “Our FDA-compliant system is fast, pain-free, enamel-safe and gives immediate results. Occasionally, there may be cases of sensitivity but that usually resolves itself in a few hours,” he says, adding that twice-a-year visits are sufficient for most individuals, though results may vary depending on lifestyle and diet. His SmileBar chain in Mumbai and Goa offers “special packages for couples, smokers, and corporates”.
Just like contact lenses changed faces and body images three decades ago, artistic dentistry is all set to do the same for smiles. What’s the point spending lakhs on your bridal lehenga when you won’t even smile for the camera, asks Dr Chadha. “Your smile is the only jewellery you need.”
Rukshana Eisa, image consultant and grooming expert at SmileBar, offers tips for shining pearlies and fabulous photo-ops:
- Avoid tooth-stainers like coffee, tea, red wine, and cigarettes.
- Sip cold beverages like iced tea, cola, and fruit juices through a straw to avoid staining.
- Mash strawberries with baking soda, and use as toothpaste.
- Avoid bending forward for photos. Turn head slightly so the face is not completely square with the camera; it slims the face.
- Tuck your tongue behind your teeth to relax your face while smiling.
- Keep your chin up during an outdoor photo shoot.
First published in the June 2014 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Bride