An important director planned a quick lunch just before leaving for an out-of-town shoot, but when he bit something hard and broke a tooth, his plans were suddenly in limbo. He hurried to Dr. Jon Marashi’s Brentwood office to explain the urgency.
The aesthetic dentist skipped the usual goopy impressions and instead captured details of the director’s bite with a 3D scanner in less than a minute. The digital file was immediately fed into a 3D printer, which created a replica of the broken tooth. Using a computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) dental milling machine, a new porcelain crown was quickly fabricated, verified against the printed model, and bonded to the patient’s damaged tooth within hours.
“The industry standard turnaround time for a crown has always been two weeks, but this whole process took three and a half hours,” notes Marashi, whose patient list includes Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Goldie Hawn, Cher, Pink, producer Jennifer Todd and Ben Harper.
“I had an earlier version of the scanner and it was the biggest waste of money because the resolution was terrible, slow and not accurate, like a dial-up modem – but this one, called the Treos, is super kick-ass and such super fast internet,” adds Marashi “It takes 45 seconds to get the picture of a whole mouth.”
In recent years, high-tech advancements such as lasers, digital scanners and printers, artificial intelligence and augmented reality have made even the most complicated dental procedure a much faster, easier and more predictable experience.
Patients now have more control over the outcome of a smile. “There’s a new mix of augmented reality and artificial intelligence that works by capturing a scan of the person’s face and allowing us to put a filter on it,” explains Dr. Alex Fine, who works in Dr. Marc Lowenberg works, out. where Chris Rock, Julianna Margulies, Kelly Ripa and Liev Schreiber are patients. “It’s like creating an Instagram filter designed specifically for patients and showing what they would look like with their prettiest smile.” The patient then participates in the process and helps decide what is optimal.
“It works well because there are different features that look nice on different people,” explains Dr. Robert Raimondi of One Manhattan Dental. “We can put (the scan) on pictures of a face and change the size, shape, shade and number of teeth and show them what’s actually possible in their mouth.” Raimondi also integrates the internal scanner with a CT scan and robotic surgery to make implant placement more accurate. “It’s so cool,” he says.
Dr. Shawn Flynn lets patients weigh their smiles without an extra visit to his Beverly Hills office. “I just finished a case for someone on a TV show and we had his scan on file, so we could go back and forth with the footage without him having to re-enter,” he notes.
Gummy smiles used to require surgical instruments and a drill, but the handheld LiteTouch laser, developed in Israel, is now able to remove gums and bone, raising the upper teeth without traditional surgery. “It’s less invasive, less painful, and heals faster,” Fine reports.
The LiteTouch also removes old veneers by melting the adhesive, so dentists don’t have to laboriously grind them down and potentially damage underlying teeth. “I had a wife with terrible veneers,” recalled Marashi. “The work was a mess and her bite was messed up. I had all of her veneers removed in 15 minutes without destroying any natural teeth. This technology is as brand new as it gets!”
Even bleaching is less of an ordeal. “The new lasers don’t heat the teeth like they used to, and the gel isn’t as hard, so it’s much softer for people with sensitive teeth,” says Dr. Lana Rozenberg, who leans towards the smiles of Justin Theroux and Kristin Davis.
The new technologies are especially useful for productions. Rozenberg talks about a heartbreaking British actor who broke his tooth on set. “He bit into something and he didn’t smile, but we were able to use the scanner and get him out of the office in an hour and a half and back to work with a new tooth,” she says. “It’s amazing that we don’t even have to record impressions, which is perfect for gaggers. You can even make night watches on the printer.”
Actresses are never too young to see an aesthetic dentist. When Madison Taylor Baez, then age 11, lost a baby tooth on the set of Showtime’s Let the right one inshe was rushed to Lowenberg, who quickly scanned her mouth and pressed her a temporary tooth to help her through the shoot.
Recently, a new AI program has been offered to dentists that actually reads and interprets X-rays. “It’s mind-boggling,” says Rozenberg with a laugh. “Soon dentists will be obsolete.”
While scanning and printing of molds and sample smiles can be done digitally, and some dentists are using 3D printers to make actual veneers for both the front and back teeth, Lowenberg explains, “While these advancements are great and very new, the last step of a true Hollywood smile needs subtlety and artistry, which is still only achieved by the hand of a master ceramist.
Top row, from left: Kelly Ripa, Justin Theroux, Cher, Chris Rock.
Bottom row, from left: Ben Harper, Julianna Margulies, Ben Affleck, Pink
A version of this story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter magazine on April 12. Click here to subscribe.