Smile for the camera!

Smile for the camera!

Your smile will be the focus of your wedding photos so check out these options that cosmetic dentistry has to offer

Story by Sarah Gonzales

Visiting the dentist may not be at the top of most wedding planning to-do lists, but with all the smiling, greeting, and photographing over the course of a wedding day it makes sense that the bride’s and groom’s grins be just as lovely as every other carefully planned detail.

“You’re starting a new life,” says Anchorage-based Owen Mandanas, DDS, explaining why tying the knot is the perfect time to visit the dentist. “It’s all part of the growing-up process – getting married, taking care of your teeth.” She says she has seen patients in their 20s and 30s who haven’t had a cleaning since they were covered by their parents’ insurance as teenagers.

Teeth whitening is the most common prenuptial request at Dr. Mandanas’ office, but she says that an overdue cleaning will also do wonders to brighten a smile. “For some people who haven’t had their teeth cleaned in a long time they won’t even need a whitening afterward,” she remarks.

Having their teeth look as bright and white as possible is a top concern of brides- and grooms-to-be, notes Kirk Johnson, DDS, of Excellence in Dentistry in Anchorage. “Getting married is, for a lot of people, the catalyst to getting work done,” he says, including serious concerns such as crooked teeth, gaps, worn down areas or sharp edges. This kind of work requiring crowns, veneers or braces is not cheap and there are sometimes less expensive alternatives, but in the long run these procedures will have the best and most lasting benefits. That said, he recognizes that “most people who are getting married are younger and at a stage in their lives where they are still trying to figure out how to afford their wedding cake.”

Budget-friendly smiles

For quick and inexpensive fixes that won’t take a big bite out of the wedding budget, both dentists say that bonding, or moldable tooth-colored material, applied to the front or “smiling” teeth can do wonders to even out a smile. “Bonding is more of a quick fix, say if you’re getting married in a month,” says Dr. Mandanas. At $1250-$1500 per crown or veneer the cost of doing several teeth can really add up depending on what insurance (if you have it) will or won’t cover. Expect bonding to be about half of that cost while keeping in mind that it will not last as long. “We do this right in the chair so it’s more immediate,” says Dr. Mandanas. “But the gold standard is a crown or a veneer.”

Brides and grooms may have heard about or considered cosmetic dentistry products such as DURAthin veneers or Snap-On Smile. Dr. Johnson, who is certified in applying DURAthin veneers, says that these translucent porcelain overlays are “stunning – you can’t tell them from a natural tooth” and he highly recommends them as an upgrade for dull teeth. But both dentists give the thumbs down to Snap-On Smile. It “doesn’t look that good,” says Dr. Mandanas, and Dr. Johnson says that a patient can often get better results for less money with bonding.

The earlier, the better

Ideally, both dentists recommend coming in for a visit a year before the wedding date. “The earlier you come in the more I can troubleshoot,” Dr. Mandanas says. “Sometimes it takes over a year to fix someone’s mouth if they have problems that are more than just aesthetic.” If the wedding is in less than a year, Dr. Johnson says that a lot can still be accomplished with teeth whitening and teeth contouring. “If spaces need to be closed or alignments changed, we can do some bonding after the whitening is done,” he explains, noting that whitening first is essential so that the bonding material matches the existing tooth color. Dr. Mandanas says while dentures are often overlooked or not needed by younger people, for those who are missing teeth or who are older, dentures will not only improve the bite, they will also provide a more youthful appearance as a result. “You can get an instant facelift if you have a really good fitting denture,” she says. “It fills out your face again in the back, or in the front it puffs out your lips. Mothers of the bride, even grandmothers, are getting their teeth fixed as well” before the wedding.

Smile! More money-saving tips

Dr. Mandanas has generously offered Alaska Bride & Groom readers a 2-for-the-price-of-1 bride and groom whitening deal, while Dr. Johnson says that it is his office’s standard practice to offer a complimentary cleaning and whitening session to any new patient, or a free whitening to any regular patient about to get hitched. Now there’s a pre-wedding task that you can smile about getting done.

Resources: Dr. Kirk Johnson (; Dr. Owen Mandanas (