Wanted: the worst smile on Bainbridge

Omer Anisso wants to give away a great smile, and the confidence a smile creates. - RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo
Omer Anisso wants to give away a great smile, and the confidence a smile creates.
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

Cosmetic dentist Omer Anisso wants the whole world to be smiling.

To help that happen, he is borrowing on the current popularity of “makeover” programming on television to offer a free “extreme cosmetic dental makeover” to an area resident.

“We are hoping for 100 applicants, which we will narrow down to 10, then select the one who can realize the greatest benefit in a reasonable amount of time,” he said.

Anisso will accept applications, which include photos and a short essay on why the hopeful wants the makeover, during November. He and his staff want to select the winner by mid-December, then complete the job by the end of January.

“Ideally, we would like someone whose makeover could be done in two to four visits,” he said.

Those not selected will receive free consultations, and reduced-rate treatment if they elect to go forward, he said.

Because people project so much of their personality through a smile, Anisso said cosmetic changes to the teeth can make a profound change to the person.

“I’ve done literally thousands of these, and you see a different level of self-esteem, a change in the person’s energy level,” he said.

As the name implies, cosmetic dentistry doesn’t involve making “structural” changes like using orthodontic braces to move teeth around.

Principal techniques are whitening, veneers over the surface of damaged or discolored teeth, replacing metal fillings or crowns with more natural-looking ceramics and composites, and adding crowns that can alter the length or width of a tooth to fill a gap between teeth, or make a slightly torqued tooth appear to be even with the others.

“More extreme cases may require implants,” Anisso said, “but that can take a year.”

Anisso works in tandem with Chuck Dobbs, a master ceramist in Michigan, where Anisso practiced before moving to Bainbridge Island four years ago.

Today’s well-crafted ceramic crowns look more natural and don’t develop visible black lines at the margin as crowns once did, Anisso said.

“You can’t tell properly made ceramic crowns from real teeth,” he said. “I have been cleaning a patient’s teeth, and have forgotten myself that I put crowns on him a couple of years ago.”

Before the ceramics are actually made, a process that can cost hundreds of dollars per tooth, Anisso makes and applies temporary plastic materials of the same size as the planned crowns.

“The temporaries look like natural teeth, and people walk out of here feeling happy already,” he said. “And it’s like a trial run. Before we go ahead, we have them wearing the width, length and shape that we think is right for them, and then make adjustments if people are uncomfortable.”

The best candidates for cosmetic dentistry, Anisso said, are people whose social interactions are inhibited by their feelings about their appearance.

“They may be embarrassed about their smile, don’t feel comfortable talking to somebody or that they can present themselves properly, like in a job interview. And in some cases, the teeth may not be

functioning properly, and they may not be eating right.”

Anisso wants to offer one free treatment – repeating the plan each year, if possible – not only to help someone in this area who needs but can’t afford the procedure, but also to encourage his colleagues to do likewise.

He calls the effort “Smiles Across America,” and hopes, through publicity and dental-journal articles publicizing the outcome, to prod some of the 10,000 cosmetic dentists across the country to do likewise.

“If only half of them do so, it could make a tremendous difference to a tremendous number of people,” he said. “The way to start is in your own hometown, but I can’t see why this won’t get other dentists on board.”

Anisso said he has seen a number of his patients blossom after cosmetic treatments, but says the dentistry only awakens abilities the patient already possesses.

“It is simply improving something about themselves that might lift their self-esteem just enough that they can go from there,” he said. “Doing that is a wonderful feeling.”

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