Mona Lisa Smile

Published in Metro Weddings, January – June 2009

For my wedding photos, I was thinking of doing a Mona Lisa smile – mysterious and tight-lipped. Years of drinking too much coffee and tea had left my teeth less than pearly white. As much as I wanted to flash a gorgeous smile on my wedding day, I was just too self-conscious. That is, until I met Dr. Cecile Infantado.

Dr. Cecile specializes in Cosmetic Dentistry and is part of Smile Designer Co. Inc. and has been in the practice for 21 years. During our consultation her warm and ladylike demeanor quickly put me at ease, as she explained the concept of a ‘designer smile’ and how she first got into dentistry. At the age of 12, she knew she wanted to be a dentist and even made her own set of “play teeth” using materials such as clay, paper and glue from her parent’s school supplies store. She may have started out with humble materials, but she realized early on that not everyone was born with a nice smile, and that she had the ability to make smiles great, given the right tools and training.

Her desire to create beautiful smiles led her to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) where she took advanced studies in cosmetic dentistry. She is an active participant in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, which is the largest dental organization committed to advancing excellence in the art and science of cosmetic dentistry. “My training and experiences at the AACD trained my eye to look at the better picture.” She revealed.

The number one service brides ask for is, naturally, teeth whitening or bleaching. I knew I wasn’t the only bride-to-be who was conscious about the shade of my teeth, but it was comforting to find out that a number of clients availed of this service, celebrity and non-celebrity brides alike. I was also happy to hear that it was a quick, painless process (roughly 45 minutes), and that my teeth could become 3 – 5 shades lighter. I wasn’t so happy to hear that I would have to lay off the coffee, tea and other colored substances and foods two days after the procedure. Still, I suppose not getting a caffeine fix for two days is worth a whiter, beaming smile. Other common services offered at Dr. Cecile’s clinic are adding porcelain veneers and cosmetic bonding.

The process of bonding makes use of enamel-like material that is sculpted and polished into shape to help fill in chipped edges and gaps between teeth. Porcelain Veneers are custom-made thin porcelain shells bonded directly to one’s teeth. As these veneers become part of the tooth, they are mostly used to close unsightly gaps, repair chipped or broken teeth, and alter the alignment of teeth to make them appear straighter. The best thing about veneers is that they don’t stain. Often, this procedure is done in two sessions, and with proper maintenance, veneers can last for years.

Dr. Cecile’s mentor was one of the former presidents of the AACD, and she trained with him in Hawaii, where she got her own veneers. “I realized that my teeth weren’t perfect of course, and I wanted to enhance my own smile. But more than that, I wanted to see how the procedure was done and feel what having veneers were like so that I could empathize with my patients.” It’s good to know that Dr. Cecile has first-hand experience with this service, and can say with conviction that bonding and veneers offer total smile enhancement.

Dr. Cecile’s hands-on experience and conscientious approach ensure that each patient gets the personalized treatment they deserve. The fact that her clinic is located in the Dusit Thani Hotel is not only convenient, but pleasant as well. The luxurious and elegant setting helps to prepare your mind and body for a day of pampering and relaxation. For our initial consultation, Dr. Cecile did a bit of cleaning, pointed out two cavities and suggested some bonding and bleaching. Bonding would ensure even, perfectly proportioned teeth and bleaching would give me a celebrity white smile – the perfect bridal accessory.

I asked when would be the best time to go for a consultation, in general. “It all depends on what you want to have done, but go for an initial consultation 2 months before the wedding so that you know, more or less, what you need.” She advised. “For example, if you need dental work that requires laboratory support, then we’ll have enough time to send the plates to the lab. However, minor work only takes a couple of hours.” My only regret was not meeting the good dentist sooner, as my wedding is just a month away.    

Bleaching ranges from P15,000 – P25,000. Veneers are about P26,500 inclusive of everything; temporary crowns, smile design, and so on. “You don’t do veneers right away,” Dr. Cecile explained. “The smile design is very crucial. We take an impression, study the model and do a mock-up. That way, the patient will know what their smile will look like.” Bonding costs about P10,000 per tooth, but Dr. Cecile has a special price for brides as well as good package deals, so it can go as low as P7,000 per tooth. What’s more, bonding only takes a few hours. “You can be done in 1 – 2 hours, depending on how many teeth we do,” Dr. Cecile estimated. This was the best part of the deal, for me. Like most brides-to-be, I work full-time and despite having a wedding planner, find that there still aren’t enough hours in a day to finish all the things I need to do for work, the wedding, and other things. Not having to worry about what my teeth would look like in my wedding pictures is an immense relief. All I have to do on the day is brush my teeth, gargle, and beam at the photographers.  

Teeth aren’t the only elements that make for a dazzling smile though; our lips and gums are also part of the deal. That is why Dr. Cecile also does gum sculpture, cosmetic contouring and ‘smile lifts’. Gum sculpture can help correct certain soft tissue problems and produces a more symmetrical look, while cosmetic contouring can develop a better width to length ratio of teeth, and create a softer, more pleasant shape. It is also one of the easiest procedures done today.  Smile lifts make use of various procedures and materials to “improve facial contours and muscle structure through tooth and bite alignment”, as explained in Dr. Cecile’s website. Smile lifts can help future brides attain softer, elegant, and more importantly, healthier smiles.

You can learn more about the art of cosmetic dentistry and the services that Dr. Cecile offers by visiting her website: www.smilesbydrcecile.com or by dropping by her clinic on the third floor of the Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati. The clinic is currently going through some expansion and renovation, so expect a wonderful ambiance and state of the art dental technology. While going to a cosmetic dentist may sound pricey, the results are definitely priceless: instant glamour, renewed confidence and a charming smile that your groom will fall in love with again and again.