Barely past seven on a Tuesday morning and courtesy of the Haleyon, she’s just swallowed. Connie is drifting into a fuzzy world somewhere between sleep and consciousness. Reclining in a green dentist’s chair under a soft plaid blanket, she’s listening to a muted jazz CD over headphone. The tips of her black shoes and the hem of her gold corduroy pants peek out from under the blanket.
Wearing a smart black twinset, the fiftyish Connie (not her real name) is thin and pretty in a mildly weathered way, her tanned and freckled face formed with wispy ginger-colored hair. She’s not here to get a cavity filled or to hear a lecture about flossing. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with her teeth at all. Connie is about to get her smiled fixed.
Kirtley, the state’s only dentist accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, estimates that 70 percent of his patients – mostly middle-aged women-come for what he calls “smile design.” Like other dentists, Kirtley offers teeth-whitening, but bleaching stains can do only so much. If you really want to see dramatic results, the biggest gains come from adding material to existing teeth, as in bonding or porcelain crowns, or from deconstructing the teeth and giving them a prettier facade. These were once known as caps, but in today’s parlance, they’re “porcelain veneers.”