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Perfect smile; A smile can light up a room, but what happens when your teeth leave you lacking in confidence? Liz Lamb speaks to two people whose appearances have been transformed with a new set of pearly whites.

AN accident while on holiday left NHS worker Cath O'Kane with seriously damaged teeth and a fractured jaw. The incident 12 years ago meant the mother of four needed gruelling dental treatment and her confidence plummeted.

The 52-year-old had taken her youngest toddler on a water slide and sat behind him on a rubber ring to ensure he wouldn't fall out, but the ring spun round by accident and her son's head knocked back against her face.

After emergency dental restorative work in Spain, the dentist told Cath that in two years she would need to lose the damaged teeth due to the increased risk of gum disease.

She then spent the next 12 years under the care of various dentists having arduous dental treatment and being obliged to wear a permanent brace.

The mum became increasingly concerned about how she looked and rarely smiled. She also found it difficult to eat some foods.

Cath says: "During that time I became more and more conscious of my appearance and frequently spoke with my hand over my mouth.

"Eating in public was becoming increasingly difficult, I couldn't chew properly and my face looked different.

"I desperately wanted my teeth to look and function better.

"I knew I definitely did not want any sort of denture, which seemed to be the only option on offer. "It was difficult to find the service I wanted. I went to a dentist who said he could give me permanent implants but I would have to undergo bone graft surgery and it would have taken a whole year of constant treatment, which just wasn't practical. " Shortly afterwards, Cath read an article in a daily newspaper about Dr Rob Wain, who was offering a revolutionary treatment in Newcastle.

The article described a new technique which meant she could have the implant work carried out in as little as three hours and that it would use four specially placed titanium implants to permanently fix the teeth to the jaw. Using computer-guided technology, there is no lengthy healing period and no need to wear a denture.

Cath set about researching the treatment online and booked herself in for a consultation, "as it seemed too good to be true", she says.

However, the treatment doesn't come cheap, and Mrs O'Kane would have to spend from pounds 9,500 to have the perfect smile.

"The cost of the treatment was a consideration," she said. "I looked out the window one day and saw my car parked on the drive. I thought to myself, 'that car cost more than the treatment does - what do I really want out of life'? "So I just bit the bullet and went for it."

Cath's procedure was carried out by Dr Wain, of Dovetail Bespoke Dental Solutions, in Newcastle, who has more than 20 years of dental expertise.

She says: "The treatment was so straightforward. I booked myself two days off work and was in and out within hours.

"After three hours in surgery, I woke up from the anaesthetic and saw Dr Wain. In one hand, he had a mirror and in the other hand was a Golden Delicious. He said, 'You can now eat this apple if you wish'.

"I was delighted, as I hadn't been able to eat an apple in over 12 years."

Cath was amazed by how different she looked and for the first time in 12 years felt happy with her appearance.

"When I first saw myself after the treatment I just couldn't believe the transformation," she says. " I didn't anticipate just how different I would look. My whole face looked completely different, there was some slight bruising and some pain, but nothing that couldn't be controlled with over-the-counter medicines.

"When I went back to work, my colleagues all commented on how different I looked and how much more I smiled.

"My husband works away and he was out of town when I had the treatment done. When he came back and saw me, he noticed the difference immediately and was delighted at the success of the treatment.

"I was now able to smile again and get on with my life."

For more information on Dovetail Bespoke Dental Solutions visit www.dovetaildental.co.uk

OLIVER LODGE I

F you ever spotted marketing assistant Oliver Lodge in a photograph you'd notice one thing - he never smiled. The 20-year-old, from Gateshead, was so self-conscious about his teeth, he would often hide his mouth with his hand and whenever a friend took a photograph he would refuse to smile.

He says: "I didn't feel as confident as I could have. In photographs, everyone would be smiling and people would say to me 'Come on, smile' but I just didn't want to. I just felt like it was something that bothered me. If I was getting ready to go out, I would look in the mirror and wish I looked better."

Oliver was suffering from overbite, a common orthodontic condition, where the front teeth overlap the lower teeth excessively and cause improper functioning and an unnatural appearance of the front teeth.

After being refused treatment on the NHS, Oliver turned to The Cosmetic Dental Clinic to discuss his options there.

"The NHS said to me that they thought other people had far worse teeth than I did," says Oliver. "I knew it wasn't serious, but I personally felt I had the worst teeth out of all my friends and I wanted it put right."

Oliver had been unhappy with his teeth from a young age and had wanted a brace fitted when he was 10 years old, but growing up in Hong Kong, his parents could not afford the procedure. He says: "The prices in Hong Kong were astronomical, so when I moved to the UK I decided to do something about it, as it was much more affordable here.

"I did a bit of research and could have gone for normal braces, but there were things, like not being able to eat certain foods because of the wires and the way it looked, that put me off.

"I wanted something where I didn't have to drastically change my appearance."

Oliver opted for the Invisalign treatment at the Cosmetic Dental Clinic as an alternative to braces.

Instead of the traditional metal "train track" look, the aligners used were clear and could be removed to brush and floss the teeth.

Dr Darren Cannell, co-founder of the clinic, says: "Invisalign is a series of clear, removable, plastic aligners that are custom-made for the patient's teeth.

"We use advanced 3D computer technology in the clinic to create a model of the mouth and teeth.

"The beauty of this treatment is that clients can actually view and help agree what their final smile is going to look like.

"Once agreed, a series of clear aligners are custom-made to manoeuvre the teeth to the ideal position.

Ten months and pounds 2,000 later, Oliver's overbite was rectified and he is much more comfortable and confident with his smile.

He says: "I love smiling, and I love being photographed. People are commenting now that I have a perfect smile and that is so nice to hear. It's something I have never been told before.

"I feel much more confident and I don't have to hide my mouth with my hand any more.

"I love showing off my new smile."

For further information about Invisalign visit www.thecosmeticdentalclinic.com or call (0191) 260-3688.

CAPTION(S):

BIG DIFFERENCE Cath O'Kane's teeth before treatment, above and top, and now, right, since undergoing a revolutionary procedure, giving her renewed confidence. SMILES BETTER Oliver Lodge hated smiling for photographs because of his overbite, top left, but now people say he has a perfect smile.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 8, 2009
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