Fundamentals of a Beautiful Smile

Cosmetic Dentist Serving Tustin, Orange, Santa Ana & Other Areas of Orange County

A beautiful smile makeover with porcelain veneers doesn’t happen by accident but is the result of careful planning. An individual smile design should be developed for each patient before beginning the procedure. Listening to the patient’s wants and desires is key to a successful smile makeover. While patients often have specific ideas of what they want their new smile to look like, there are several fundamentals of an attractive smile that should be taken into consideration whenever possible.

Front Teeth: Incisors and Canines

The first involves the two front teeth, or the central incisors. Front teeth are oftentimes worn down from teeth grinding, accidental breakage, or general wear. Many times they are as wide as they are long, or rather in the shape of a square. Central incisors should have a rectangular shape or a ratio of width to height of about 75% to 80%. The correct rectangular shape of the front teeth can easily be restored with porcelain veneers.

Central incisor before cosmetic treatment | Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry

Central incisor after cosmetic treatment | Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry

The next fundamental to take into consideration is the proportional relationship between the front six teeth – the central incisors, lateral incisors, or canines (cuspids).  When teeth are crowded and rotated, the ideal proportional relationship between them is violated. The correct proportional relationship between the anterior teeth is an example of the Golden Proportion that is found in numerous places throughout nature.

The Golden Proportion suggests the width of the lateral incisors have an assigned ratio of 1.0, the central incisor a width of 1.62, and the canine visual width of 0.62.  When a smile makeover is done, care should be taken to maintain these proportions with the new veneers.

Golden Proportion Smile | Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry


The midline between the front teeth should line up underneath the “V” of the upper lip and be in line with the long axis of the face. A line drawn along the edges of the front six teeth should be perpendicular to the midline of the face insuring the entire smile will not appear canted.

Another guideline is for the edges of the smile to follow the lip line of the lower lip. When the smile line does not follow the lower lip, it can create a reverse smile line which promotes a more aged appearance.

Edging the smile along the lower lip | Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry


Another subtle fundamental of designing a smile lies in the amount of space along the edges (embrasures) of the porcelain veneers. The spacing or scalloping along the edge of the teeth should get wider as your eye moves away from the midline. The contact points where the teeth touch also move slightly towards the gum tissue the further you move away from the midline. 

Symmetry of these embrasures is an integral component and should be strived for in creating a beautiful smile makeover. These subtle touches help prevent the veneers from looking like “chicklets” or like a poorly made denture.

Embrasures/scalloping of teeth with veneers | Dr Joseph Henry

Gum Line

Finally, an often overlooked fundamental of smile design actually does not involve the teeth or porcelain veneers themselves, but rather the symmetry of the gum tissue. Whenever possible, a laser should be used to even out the gum tissue of the front teeth so that they are at or nearly at the same level. Deviations from symmetry are a distraction from the beauty of the smile makeover.

Gum line symmetry in a smile makeover | Orange CA

While these fundamental principles are really just guidelines to be considered after listening to the patients desires, taking them into account will help insure that your smile makeover with porcelain veneers will look its very best. To find out how Dr. Joseph Henry can help you achieve the smile of your dreams, please contact Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry online or call (714) 385-1672 today.