Dr. Wynn Okuda

By Dr. Wynn Okuda
Wednesday - December 07, 2005
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Julie Brum, Pam Kutaka, Barbara Shirland, Wynn H. Okuda, Jamie Lind and Liza Khalliev
Julie Brum, Pam Kutaka, Barbara Shirland, Wynn
H. Okuda, Jamie Lind and Liza Khalliev

This is not your father’s dental office.

In the last decade, the cosmetic dentistry profession has evolved at great speed.

At our office, art and science have merged to deliver a complete care package. We don’t just fix broken crowns or do root canals - we enhance a person’s lifestyle and well-being. Procedures range from simple teeth bleaching to porcelain veneers to complex full-mouth reconstruction. They address a patient’s desire to close gaps or straighten teeth, have a brighter smile, replace missing teeth or aged restorations, or have a more youthful, natural or elegant looking smile.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), virtually all Americans (99.7 percent) believe a smile is an important social asset, while 96 percent of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. Three-quarters (74 percent) of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chances for career success.

The demand for cosmetic dentistry has increased as the public becomes more educated about the power of healthy teeth and an attractive smile. In the last five years, teeth bleaching procedures have increased 300 percent and porcelain veneer procedures have increased 250 percent.

It is of the utmost importance to my staff and me to be at the forefront of this evolution, and help to transform the way people perceive the dental profession.

After some pretty horrifying experiences at the dentist’s as a child - I can remember one instance where I actually ran and hid in terror - I decided in the seventh grade that I wanted to become a new kind of dentist. I was determined to heal the anxiety and fear many people associate with dental work.

I have always had a love for art. Several years into my dental career I realized there is a connection between art and dentistry. Cosmetic Dentistry has been a natural fit for me in blending my two interests.

Over the next several years, we began exploring ways to further improve the dental experience. As stated in a Wall Street Journal article, we helped to pioneer the spa dentistry concept which has become a popular trend throughout the world. The Dental Day Spa helps those with high dental anxiety to have dentistry done in a safe and comfortable environment. We pamper patients with massage therapy, aroma- and audiotherapy, aesthetician services, movies during dental treatment, catered lunches, computer access to the Internet and e-mail, even limousine service, to create a “wow” experience. The concept is becoming more popular today as practitioners realize the patient’s need to relax and feel comfortable while having dental procedures.

However, it’s also extremely important that we focus daily on maintaining the highest credentials, education and training possible. As the profession grows, this should be priority No. 1 for anyone looking to obtain cosmetic dentistry services as well. We are proud to be the only AACD Board Accredited cosmetic dentist on Oahu. I spend a significant amount of time lecturing for dental associations and universities around the world (most recently in Japan, Australia and Singapore), and writing articles for dental trade publications to continue to share my knowledge with other dental professionals.

Not only does this help others in the field, but it helps us to keep our practice at the fore-front of global technology, letting us employ world-class knowledge right here in Honolulu. For instance, we’ll be unveiling some of the latest technology from Australia next year. Maintaining a global network has also allowed me to influence product development. Most recently we worked with a manufacturer in Japan to develop a bleach specifically for sensitive teeth, making the popular procedure available to many more people.

Like any profession, the cosmetic dentistry industry faces challenges. One is the word “cosmetic.” It can mistakenly imply “all fluff and no substance.” In actuality, people are either born with or acquire cosmetic dental problems as they go through life, and many of these problems are serious enough to affect health, bite, mouth comfort or self-esteem. That in turn can interfere with career success, relationships and enjoyment of life.

The terms “dental rejuvenation” or “restorative dentistry” can be more accurate. With the tremendous technology employed in cosmetic dental procedures, facial rejuvenation can be achieved in making a person look 10 years younger in as little as two visits. The end result to cosmetic dentistry, when done correctly, can be extremely natural and long lasting. We balance health, science, function and esthetics, treating the whole patient so they can live their best life. I believe this is a good formula for long-term success.

Every day I’m thrilled by the feedback my patients give us, which further inspires me to strive for excellent quality dentistry while creating a positive experience for patients. We’ve had patients who haven’t been to a dentist in decades because of their anxiety, and we’ve been able to successfully and comfortably treat them, changing their whole outlook on dental care. Just recently after a procedure, I asked a patient how it went for her. She was so comfortable she had fallen asleep! That’s really validating for me.

I have a vested interest in maintaining impeccable standards in cosmetic dentistry. One of the most effective tools is public education. The more people know, the better equipped they are to seek out and demand excellence. I advise anyone interested in having cosmetic dental work done to first ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. Research credentials and accreditation online. Make an appointment for a consultation before any work is done. Look at before and after photos of work personally done by the dentist.

This sets the stage for patient and dentist to work together for the best possible results. That’s the essence of good dentistry.

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