Meet the Smile Transformer
A 1983 graduate of the Columbia School of Dental Oral Surgery, Michael Kraus, DDS, specializes in cosmetic and rejuvenation dentistry. He runs a thriving practice in mid-town Manhattan, where his reputation for discretion and privacy had garnered him a celebrity and top-level executive clientele. In fact, Dr. Kraus has created smile designs for cast members of ABC’s “All My Children” as well as Miss America Pageant contestants. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Kraus teaches Aesthetic Dentistry at New York University and the Atlantic Coastal Research Clinic in Palm Beach, Florida. You may recall having seen him on a 2004 episode of TLC network’s “A Makeover Story,” or read his book “Any Woman Can! How to Get a New Look and a New Life,” a guide to self reinvention. For Dr. Kraus’ insights on home whitening products, dermal fillers and the relationship between dental and overall health, please read on.
What whitening procedures are you particularly keen on currently?
I’m particularly keen on Zoom2!, an in office whitening system by Discus Dental, and custom take-home systems (with bleaching trays). Whitening systems now come in many sizes and shapes. They vary from “on the go” types like Go Smile at 4% carbamide peroxide to in-office, one-hour treatments at 50%, depending on convenience issues and tooth sensitivity.
For at-home care, what dental packages and toothbrushes do you recommend?
Phillips Sonicare is my favorite electric toothbrush on the market. It ranges in price from around $135 to $170. It comes with its own sterilization device to deal with the bacteria and plaque that accumulate on the brush. The device is detachable from the handle and should be replaced every six months. Get regular manual brushes and travel kits from your dentist, because retail discount packages can have inferior brushes that actually hurt your teeth and gums. Also, by getting the brush from the dentist, it encourages us to stick to regular six-month appointments.
What about do-it-yourself whitening kits? Are these effective?
There are many on the market now. They come in on-the-go versions such as “Go Smile” and other overnight bleaching systems. They can be very effective for a situation like a date, where you need a quick touch up. But, in general these kinds of kits are not long lasting and over usage can cause a demineralization of the teeth. The teeth start to get that translucent “see through” look at the edges. Again, it’s best to get the self-whitening trays from your dentist, as he or she will be able to monitor the strength of the whitener as well as the fit of the tray.
Can you share some camera-ready tricks with our readers?
If you have beautiful teeth, highlight them with a nice lipstick. Bright teeth need subtler shades of lipstick. More color and deeper shades will lighten teeth that are not brilliant. But, for obvious reasons, don’t highlight broken or misshaped teeth unless you want everyone to tell you that you need veneers. Also, a good tip for when a lot of family photos are being taken is to say the letter “E” and gently hold that shape of your mouth while relaxing the corners. You will show a nice natural smile. Practice it once or twice in a mirror and you’ll “seeeee” it works!
What new developments are happening in cosmetic dentistry?
Dentists have entered the arena of dermal fillers and Botox. Their intimate knowledge of the muscles of the smile and lower face present the opportunity to treat both issues simultaneously. This allows the dentist to “rejuvenate” a patient’s face without plastic surgery. It is often less expensive to render Juvederm treatment in the dentist’s office, and more importantly, you are already familiar with the skill of his injections. A dentist can even give you a bit of anesthesia before injecting Juvederm into the site. Botox will take away certain frown lines that have developed over the years or relieve a chin pull that has created unwanted topography in the area.
Please tell us about the link between dental health, well-being and overall health.
Dental health is directly related to a person’s general health and can tip us off if things are not what they should be. First, it is a well-known fact that there is a direct link between plaque on your teeth and plaque in the arteries, which can lead eventually to heart disease. It is stated that if an individual flosses every day he will live up to seven years longer than someone who doesn’t. Second, a dentist can detect if an individual has an eating disorder such as Bulimia, since purging (vomiting) will cause enamel loss to the surfaces of the teeth because of the stomach acid. Other issues such as stress can manifest in your teeth by grinding off enamel and causing TMJ problems (clicking and pain in the jaw hinge). The dentist, if seen regularly, can tell a lot about a person’s health and can take an active role in resolving systematic problems usually left to the MD.