A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

Phyliss Diller

  • Communication is the foundation of Aesthetic Success. At least 75% of all remarks are prompted by an inadequate exchange of information between dentist and technician – Paul Muia, CDT.
  • An aesthetic smile in beauty and function can be a fundamental component of an individuals self esteem.
  • The technician is beyond critical in order to satisfy and exceed the doctor/patient expectations.
  • Comfort, function and health are all synergistic with aesthetics.

Esthetics, also spelled Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy focused on art, taste,and beauty (Wikipedia). In the European art world, the concept of aesthetics grew into a definition synonymous with “absolute beauty.” Beauty is a subjective but universal truth that is difficult to define.

Friedrich Schiller, a German thinker of the 1800s, defined aesthetic appreciation of beauty as the most perfect reconciliation of the sensual and rational parts of human nature. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, another German philosopher, argued that all culture is a matter of “absolute spirit.” Art is the first stage in which the absolute spirit is manifest immediately to sense-perception and is thus an objective revelation of beauty.

Aesthetics grew from the philosophy of art and was debated for much of the 18th century as a subjective vs. an objective experience. Debates in 18th century Europe ranged from beauty as a sensory version of moral goodness to a way to fight suffering.

The debate jumped the Atlantic when Oscar Wilde, an American author, used concepts of beauty in all his work. “Aestheticism is a search after the signs of the beautiful. It is the science of the beautiful through which men seek the correlation of the arts. It is, to speak more exactly, the search after the secret of life.”

In today’s world, aesthetics is an application of beauty and truth that is accepted as a universal principle in every discipline of life. In the 1970s, Abraham Moles and Frieder Nake connected aesthetics and information processing (Information Theory, Paris 1973) with the field of cognitive psychology, information processing being an approach to the goal of human thinking. Aesthetic thinking is simplified to be sequential or parallel, either of which can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

Dentistry and Aesthetics is an evolution of applied aesthetics in which human beauty of symmetry and asymmetry are studied and duplicated in an art and science approach called practice.

Applied aesthetics and aesthetic ethics compete against each other when treatment protocols are dominated by an agenda for the producer to benefit from the double meaning of attractive and morally acceptable. Aesthetic ethics refers to the idea that human conduct and behavior ought to be governed by that which is beautiful and attractive.

John Dewey pointed out that the unity of aesthetics and ethics is in fact related in our understanding of behaving “fair” which is the word that has a double meaning of conflict between beauty and aesthetic judgment.

Aesthetic judgment and value as related to facial expression and a smile presentation of teeth is both subjective and objective. An “aesthetic dentist” in a pure form represents truth in addition to providing beauty. (Opalescence / Fluorescence)

Self perception works internally and externally and a dentist has the opportunity to create external improvement that will enhance internal self perception, a powerful tool for both the dentist and the patient when the facial profile of the “social 6” (a slang term that refers to the six upper anteriors of a smile) is a major or dominant distraction of a positive self perception.

When a patient seeks an aesthetic correction from a dentist who delivers care, skill, and judgment from an absolute spirit, then, subjective and objective beauty coexist. A magical experience is the goal when aesthetics is a pure desire.

The concept of aesthetic execution is both the science and art that either awaits or overwhelms the general aesthetic dentist. Ultimately, the concept of beauty must coexist with function within the stomatognathic system. Form and function are addressed in the concept of functional occlusion.

The pure concept of an aesthetic enhancement and principles is the foundation that brings out the artist in everybody. Intuition and artistic predisposition alone will not bring the desired result. Dynamic principles that are both analytical and predictable are the cornerstone of communication for doctor, patient, and technician.

At this point, I must refer you to many of my teachers who have enlightened me to the joys of Aesthetic Dentistry. The dominant masters in my journey have been the most humble. Dr. R. V. Tucker and Dr. Gerald Chiche both teach with a pure inner aesthetic soul that transcends empirical knowledge.

The culture that is Aesthetic Dentistry is the foundation of modern dentistry. I grew my post-doctoral techniques and skills under the names of Dr. Lloyd Miller, Dr. Peter Dawson, Dr. Frank Spear, and Dr. David Hornbrook. Aesthetic dentists have their mentors and hopefully they will grow to teach others. That journey is for you to enjoy for yourself and for your patients.

The ultimate composition of a smile is a combination of display, size, arrangement and orientation that is outlined in Esthetics of Anterior Fixed Prosthodontics by Gerard J. Chiche, DDS and Alain Pinault, MDT, published by Quintessence Books in 1994:

Frame and reference: the constructional system that gives shape; a standard for measuring or constructing.

Proportion and idealism: the relation of one part to another or to the whole with respect to magnitude, quantity, or degree; a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence.

Symmetry: the correspondence in size, shape, and relative position of parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or median plane or around a center or axis.

Perspective and illusion: the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye.

The best book ever published on the subject is Smile Design: A Guide for Clinician, Ceramist, and Patient by Gerard J. Chiche and Hitoshi Aoshima, also published by Quintessence Books in 2004.

The Aesthetic Revolution

Reality television makeover programs changed the perception of consumers. A wave of U.S. (in California specifically) mindset that self-perception is fun to change. Consumers became aware of the tool bag of possibilities dentistry had to offer. Even dentists realized a new evolution of a new market: Elective Dentistry.

The Game Changer

TV did not change the game, consider it a minor spark. Materials and the 50-year evolution of the ceramic crown, conservative techniques and Adhesive Dentistry propelled the profession into the 21st century. The concept of Elective Dentistry was born and the profession forever changed.

Elective Dentistry combined with science, technology, and an artistic dentist gave the profession a new self-esteem income stream. Patients actually walking into a dentist chair and asking for change. Many dentists had to shake their heads when the patient asked for whiter front teeth but did not care about a hole in a back tooth. Born was the need to educate and born was the age of digital dentistry.


Aesthetics is the philosophical notion of beauty. Taste is a result of education and awareness of elite cultural values; therefore taste can be learned. Kant said: “Beauty is objective and universal.” The contemporary view on beauty is not based on innate qualities, but rather on cultural specifics and individual interpretations. All rules of nature apply to everybody: patients, staff, technicians, and dentists. Obey the rules of nature and elective dentistry will seek you out. Enjoy.

1 Ethics with James Hayden Tufts in The Collected Works of John Dewey (1932)
 2 Oscar Wilde (p. 159) by Richard Ellman, published by Alfred A. Knopf (1988)