Jack Ringer, D.D.S., started solo practice about 35 years ago, and had an interest in aesthetics from the get-go.
Adhesive technology for bonding, colored resins and thin shells of porcelain for veneers had made their debuts in the specialty. But there weren’t many educational opportunities at the time, so Dr. Ringer started associating with people who had the same interest and began learning.
Today, Dr. Ringer has a thriving cosmetic dentistry practice in Anaheim Hills, Calif. He’s an accredited fellow and past president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), cofounded the Orange County Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and spends about a third of his time teaching and mentoring others in aesthetic dentistry, as a faculty mentor for the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., and he lectures for various organizations and study groups nationally and internationally.
Dentists are in an ideal position to offer patients more than fillings and crowns. In fact, dentists can make one of the most profound impacts on a person’s attractiveness by aesthetically enhancing teeth, he says.
And what’s cool about cosmetic dentistry, according to Dr. Ringer, is that compared to other cosmetic subspecialties that address soft tissue, dentists work with hard tissue, which tends to offer more predictable outcomes, with less pain and downtime.
The Aesthetic Channel asked Dr. Ringer to share his insight for how dentists can best incorporate aesthetics into practice. Here’s what he had to say.
The Aesthetic Channel: What is the scope of your aesthetic practice in dentistry?
Dr. Ringer: Dentists are pretty limited as far as what they can do in facial aesthetics. We’re more confined to the oral cavity.
In some areas in the U.S., there are some minor procedures that dentists are allowed to do in cosmetics, like using Botox [Allergan] or fillers. Where I am in California, dentists aren’t allowed to do that for aesthetic purposes. We can do Botox for therapeutic reasons, but not to eliminate wrinkles or anything like that.
When it comes to the teeth and mouth, intraorally, I can do almost anything, as far as changing their shape, position, size and color. When it comes to the soft tissue, I would defer to specialists in those areas. In my type of practice, I work very closely with these people.
I think for any dentist or doctor, you should understand your limitations and skillset.
The Aesthetic Channel: Is your philosophy that cosmetics is part of dental practice?
Dr. Ringer: Yes, I think it’s a part of every dental practice, but dentists who offer it need to be skilled in aesthetics. Cosmetics is more of a want, than a need, but just because it’s a want, doesn’t mean it’s not as important to a patient.
The Aesthetic Channel: How has aesthetic dentistry evolved in your practice?
Dr. Ringer: The biggest thing that has happened in the last five to 10 years is more predictability in placing dental implants. But, at the end of the day, aesthetics are what the restoration looks like on top of the implant. Changes in that aspect include more sophisticated ceramics, better optics and new high-tech [computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing] CAD/CAM manufacturing of restorations. Everything is going digital.
You can design and actually mill the restoration on the CAD/CAM system. Though, aesthetically, milling alone — at least at the level of aesthetics that I demand — isn’t good enough for the front teeth. You still need a human to do the fine aesthetic changes, customization and characterization.