The Advantages and Disadvantages of Smile Design: What You Should Know

When looking for a beautiful and radiant expression, smile design is an increasingly sought-after alternative. However, you should know that this procedure has some risks.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Smile Design: What You Should Know
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 18 June, 2022

Smile design is a dental procedure that has gained popularity in recent times. It’s common to find promotions and advertisements for this method on social networks showing the before and after of different treatments.

Nowadays, people are more and more concerned about looking beautiful and young, and the smile is one more aspect to beautify. Therefore, new strategies are appearing in dentistry that seek to satisfy this concern.

However, the truth is that this type of intervention in the mouth is quite controversial. Some dentists offer it as an excellent alternative to improve the appearance of the smile. However, others reject it and label it as a harmful trend.

In this article, we’ll explain what smile design consists of, its advantages, disadvantages, and the risks involved. In addition, we’ll clarify in which cases it could be an advisable alternative. Keep reading to find out more!

What is smile design?

Smile design consists of changing the structure of the teeth using different dental procedures to enhance the esthetic characteristics of the teeth. It considers the shape of the teeth, their texture, color, the relationship between the different elements, and the functionality of the mouth.

The objective of this type of intervention acts on three levels:

  1. Dental: It seeks harmony between the teeth.
  2. Smile: It seeks to find a balanced relationship between teeth, gums, and lips.
  3. Facial: It seeks to find a balance between teeth, smile, and face.

The dentist has different strategies to achieve the desired smile. Deep professional cleanings, teeth whitening treatments, the placement of veneers or resin or porcelain crowns, orthodontics, and gingivoplasty are some of the interventions used to achieve the desired objective. Surgery and implant placement may also be necessary.

Some procedures are more invasive or slower than others. Also, depending on the needs of each case, all, several, or just one may be applied.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: 9 Natural and Effective Tips for Taking Care of Your Teeth

Planning the ideal smile

You should know that before starting with the smile design it’s necessary for the professional to make an accurate diagnosis of the conditions of the mouth. They must do this in order to determine your needs and plan the treatments.

Digital Smile Design (DSD) technology is used for the diagnosis, which employs special software to plan the treatment and show the patient the possible results. An intraoral scan of the mouth, intraoral and extraoral photos from different perspectives, and radiographs are taken. With these resources, the proportions and symmetry between the different elements can be studied.

This information is transferred to the computer to make the digital design. In this way, a new digital smile is virtually created with the ideal proportions of how the teeth should be positioned and how they should look considering both esthetics and function.

In the planning stage, it’s very important to also take into account the patient’s expectations. This prevents misunderstandings and frustration in the future.

Depending on the needs of each case, the appropriate treatments will be indicated to achieve the final objective of improving the appearance and function of the smile. As we said, veneers, implants, crowns, orthodontics, or whitening can be used.

It’s important that the dentist explains in detail each step of the process and the implications and risks of each of the procedures to be performed.

Consultorio odontológico para diseño de sonrisa.
You should talk about all of your questions with a professional before starting a smile design plan.

When is a smile design indicated?

A dentist will be in charge of determining whether a smile design is the right strategy for a person to achieve what he/she wants and what he/she needs. The goal is to get a mouth that looks beautiful yet is functional and remains healthy.

However, there are some situations in the mouth that may indicate that smile design may be a possibility to improve the appearance of the dentition. For example, when there are fractured or chipped teeth or to treat teeth with stains that aren’t removed with teeth whitening.

It’s also useful to solve problems of very worn, small, and short dental elements or gingival hyperplasia. It’s also used to treat malocclusions caused by the size or position of the teeth.

Like this article? You may also like to read: How to Easily Whiten Your Teeth with Natural Products

The advantages of smile design

Smile design is a treatment that can change the quality of life of dental patients for the better. The key is to use it only when the case warrants it and that it’s performed by an experienced professional. The professional must apply the appropriate techniques and excellent quality materials.

This combination of procedures offers several benefits:

  • Detailed planning: Smile design allows a thorough study of the patient’s health, esthetics, and oral and dental functions. Then the color, size, shape, and position of the teeth are planned in a personal way, determining the necessary treatments to achieve the perfect smile.
  • It uses advanced technology: To perform a digital smile design, state-of-the-art equipment and software are used. This tool is characterized by being comfortable for the patient and for the accuracy of the results.
  • It allows the patient to preview the possible result: The patient can see the possible results on the computer before starting the treatment. This favors the acceptance of some therapies.
  • Smile design improves the physical appearance of the teeth: With this type of treatment, it’s possible to find and search for the best smile for each patient – one that’s in harmony with the rest of the face.
  • It improves self-esteem: Having the desired smile generates greater confidence. This increases their security and confidence when speaking and smiling.
  • It improves oral health: Clean, restored, and properly positioned teeth make it easier to maintain optimal oral health.


At the time of undergoing a smile design and the procedures that this process involves, some risks and complications may appear. These can be minimized if the care is provided by an experienced professional. This is also the case if an adequate previous diagnosis and an exhaustive study of the clinical case are carried out and therapies are done respecting the time they require.

However, many times, despite the care, there are some negative consequences for oral health:

  • Weakening of the dental root: This usually occurs when orthodontic treatments are performed in short periods of time. When tooth movement occurs at an accelerated rate, the roots are resorbed and the elements lose their correct anchorage within the bone. This will cause mobility of the teeth and even their loss in the future.
  • Fractures: The use of poorly designed or very heavy veneers or crowns can generate inadequate pressures and forces that can splinter and even fracture the teeth.
  • The accumulation of bacterial plaque: By modifying the shape of the teeth without respecting the rest of the oral anatomy, bacterial plaque can become trapped without being able to be removed. This can cause other oral problems, such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and bad breath.
  • A lack of naturalness: Some smile designs err on the side of extravagance or perfection. The results are teeth that are too white, too bright, too straight, or all the same size, giving an unnatural appearance to the mouth.
  • Sensitivity: Excessive bleaching, excessive wear to place veneers or very extensive caps that generate too much pressure on the teeth can affect the dental pulp. Pain or sensitivity when eating very cold, hot, or sweet foods indicates that something has gone wrong.
  • Veneer breakage: When very large veneers are placed that affect occlusion or are used in patients with bite problems, these tooth coverings can break.
  • Staining and new stains: Some veneers become pigmented over time and lose their brightness. Therefore, they need to be changed with some frequency.
Sensibilidad dental tras un diseño de sonrisa.
An undesired consequence of smile design is the dental sensitivity that appears after the applied procedures.

The risks of a bad smile design

As we previously explained, smile design is considered by many professionals as a method that prevents good oral health. It’s often governed more by the interests of the market than by the true care of the mouth.

Some specialists in oral rehabilitation claim that this trend is a product of social pressures and is based on unrealistic stereotypes of beauty. Thus, many people are concerned about quickly and effectively achieving that perfect smile worn by celebrities.

Although this differs from what’s natural and implies undergoing inadequate, poorly performed, or unnecessary treatments, people see straight, white smiles on television and believe that this is what’s natural and beautiful. However, teeth are not square; they have slight curvatures and are not all the same size.

When resorting to a smile design treatment, one must be aware of this reality. Also, you should look for a professional who’s focused on taking care of the health of the mouth and not only satisfy the patient’s expectations or his own pocket.

The dentist in charge should use this procedure only in cases where it’s appropriate. As we told you earlier, sometimes this practice is able to significantly improve the health, function, and appearance of the smile.

Therefore, if you’re looking to improve the aesthetics of the mouth, it’s essential to go to a dentist you trust. You must be sure that the professional will look after your oral health before the costs that these treatments usually have.

Falling into inexperienced hands or those who seek to perform unnecessary treatments can have very negative consequences for oral health. Tooth grinding to cover them with white and square veneers, for example, will not only result in an unnatural smile, but will also have eliminated dental tissue that won’t recover.

Many times, to solve the problems generated by these poorly performed or unnecessary smile designs, it’s necessary to resort to more invasive and radical therapies. And, by the way, it also causes a new economic expense to the patient.

Opt for smile design knowing the facts

Now you know that smile design is a possible alternative when looking for the oral appearance you want. After all, the combination of advanced technology and aesthetic procedures allows us to achieve beauty, functionality, and health.

However, to achieve this, it’s necessary to be realistic and not be fooled by advertisements that promise beautiful smiles in 24 hours, or those that pretend to place veneers that cover all the teeth and hide the problems in exchange for unnatural teeth.

Choosing the dentist very well is key to avoiding inconveniences and preserve, above all, good oral health. Previous studies respecting the time of each procedure and the use of appropriate materials and techniques help to reduce complications are key.

Knowing the possible risks and what each treatment involves is key to being able to choose this type of treatment knowing the facts. If your dentist proposes a smile design to solve the problems in your mouth, you’ll already know what to expect.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Moreira, A. L. C., Reynoso, C. C., Garza, R. M. B., & Noyola, A. S. (2016). Diseño multidisciplinario de sonrisa: caso clínico. Odontología Vital1(24), 9-16.
  • Ramírez, L. M. (2018). Odontología y Ética: sobreoferta y sobreterapia. International journal of odontostomatology12(1), 57-75.
  • Rodríguez Aedo, P. A., & Fuentes Lagos, N. N. (2018). Manual de diseño de sonrisa digital (Doctoral dissertation, Universidad del Desarrollo. Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud).
  • Fernández, M. Á. G. (2014). Diseño de sonrisa mediante análisis digital 3D. Revista Española de Ortodoncia44(3), 165-174.
  • Ortiz Torres, J. L. (2021). Diseño de sonrisa.
  • García-Martínez, I. (2017). El escáner facial como herramienta para el diseño digital tridimensional de la sonrisa. Gaceta Dental298, 88-105.
  • Jafri, Z., Ahmad, N., Sawai, M., Sultan, N., & Bhardwaj, A. (2020). Digital Smile Design-An innovative tool in aesthetic dentistry. Journal of oral biology and craniofacial research10(2), 194-198.
  • Arias Castillo, A. S. (2022). Implementación del DSD en la planificación de tratamientos para la rehabilitación estética y funcional. Una revisión sistemática.
  • Valarezo Rosero, J. P. (2019). Fracasos clínicos y mecánicos de carillas directas (Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad de Guayaquil. Facultad Piloto de Odontología).
  • Ramón Barriga, S. C. (2014). Carillas de porcelana y sensibilidad postoperatoria (Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad de Guayaquil. Facultad Piloto de Odontología).
  • Carbo Cornejo, F. E. (2016). Diseño de sonrisa digital: evaluación para comprobar la eficacia de esta herramienta en planificación, comunicación y aceptación del tratamiento. Realizada en alumnos de quinto semestre de la Facultad de Odontología. 2015-2016 (Bachelor’s thesis, Quito: UCE).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.