Can Dentistry Be Art?

Dentistry is obviously a branch of the medical sciences, but for many dentists, it is also an art form. For those people who go to dentists for cosmetic dentistry, a dentist’s “creations” can be as beautiful as anything we typically refer to as art. The best dentists aren’t just doctors of the teeth, they are artists with an eye for form and a sense of what looks good.

A Great Dentist Need’s An Artist’s Eye

Imagine you go for tooth whitening, or to get dental implants or perhaps to get dental aligners fitted. You want your dentist to not just successfully complete the procedure without imperiling your life,  you want your dentist to complete the procedure and leave a product that looks both natural and beautiful. These are the demands of every single dentist’s patient. There is no patient who wants something unnatural and ugly. An artistic eye is fundamental for a dentist to be able to fulfill their tasks.

Crowns are a great example of what I mean. Any medical school can teach its students how to build crowns, but no medical school can teach its students how to see their scientific work with an artist’s eye.

Dr. Hal Arnold, who has built a career performing important dental procedures with an artist’s eye, points out that in performing typical cosmetic dentistry procedures, it helps to have an artist’s eye. The science provides a grounding and framing for what a dentist does. It’s what dental school teaches. That science, however, needs to be brought to life with art. For instance, smoothing the edges of a tooth can make a smile more beautiful. It’s not about the science, but about creating an effect that makes the patient look and feel better. Teeth are more than just white pieces of bone sticking out of your bone, they form a part of how people perceive you, and how you feel about yourself. Teeth whose shape is ugly, can be off-putting, even if the teeth are perfect from a scientific point of view.

The Zoom Boom

A really powerful example of how patients see their teeth not just from a functional but from an aesthetic point of view, is the Zoom boom.  When the pandemic began, scores of people were thrust into the world of remote walk and video conferencing. Video conferencing made their smiles, and particularly, their teeth, so much more important than they had been before.

That led to a boom in the number of people seeking cosmetic dentistry procedures to make their smiles more beautiful. Their teeth may have been fine from a functional point of view, but from an aesthetic point of view, they were desperately in need of a good dentist. Dentistry is about blending the medical and aesthetic needs of patients to deliver results that leave patients better off from a dental as well as aesthetic point of view. Unfortunately, we still haven’t figured out how to teach dental students to have a great artistic eye. Some dentists have it, others don’t, and what separates the good from the great dentists is possessing the medical as well as aesthetic talent.