When I See You Smile

By L. Don Wilson, DDS

Ever wonder why you wanted to be a dentist? Really, have you ever just thought through the whys? What was the delayed gratification you expected to receive at the end of that long road as you struggled through undergrad and dental school? I know, I know, it’s the pile of money we take home every week. Right? Yeah, right!

“When I see you smile, I can face the world, I can do anything.”


What about a 14-year-old girl that never smiles because she doesn’t like her smile? What if you changed her smile? No, more than that… what if you changed her life? I contend if you are a cosmetic dentist, you have experienced the greatest high a dentist can have: watching patients see their new smiles for the first time.

When I See You Smile, a 2006 Kris Lawrence song, tells us, “When I see you smile, I can face the world, I can do anything.” Perhaps that is a little dramatic for dental applications, but you have to admit, our ability to change a smile and change a life is very uplifting. Do you have the ability and tools in your toolbox that allow you to experience this dental high? A CAO diode laser and a little training can really open up the possibilities.

Teeth following bleaching, gingivectomy, and frenectomy

Let’s consider the following case. A 14-year-old African-American girl comes into your office. She has completed ortho treatment, but never smiles because her upper laterals are too small, she doesn’t like the look of her tissue, and her teeth are too dark. What would you do?

The first step involved a gingivectomy or “gum lift,” the term we use with patients, and a maxillary frenectomy. This was accomplished with the CAO diode laser. This gives the teeth a better appearance because we can achieve “golden proportions.” Next, we bleached her teeth with CAO’s Sheer White bleach strips. The teeth of teenagers bleach so well! The undersized lateral incisors were then restored with Componeers. Coltene’s Componeers provide a fast, conservative, economical, yet very cosmetic solution to this esthetic problem.


One last step provided the finishing touch. African-American patients frequently have random areas of pigmentation in the gingival. Due to the splotchy appearance, the pigmented areas can be a cosmetic concern. Again, with the advantage of a laser in our dental toolbox, we were able in two visits to remove the pigmented tissue from the “cosmetic zone.” Please note, we did not remove the pigment from the lower gingiva because it was not in the visible cosmetic zone. It also allowed us to contrast the results.

Finished case

With tools in the dental toolbox such as CAO lasers and Componeers, we were able to give a wonderful 14-year-old girl a beautiful smile. Having the pleasure of transforming a young person from someone who never smiled to someone who smiles all the time is a great dental high. Plus, it helps me remember why I became a dentist, “When I See You Smile.”

Dr. Wilson and Patient