Easy, pain-free options in cosmetic dentistry leave patients beaming
FEW OF ERIKA LECOUNTE’S elementary school photographs remain. At a young age, she tore them all up because she didn’t like how she looked.
“The first thing you see is this great, big, passionate smile and this person full of life,” she recalls of childhood photos, “and then you see that gap.”
LeCounte has a diastema — or gap — between her top front teeth. In fact, her mother and most of the relatives on her moth- er’s side share that same gap.
“It was like a trademark,” LeCounte says. “People in my hometown could tell who belonged to the Blocker family.” This is not an exaggeration; LeCounte’s maternal grandfather and great-grandfather both boasted gaps. “My mother is the youngest of 10 children, and if you line up every single one of them, they all have that space in the front of their mouth,” she says.
LeCounte’s mother is proud of the family trait — she wears it like a badge of honor. “Her space is so big, she can put her pinky finger between it,” LeCounte says. LeCounte liked hers, too, when she was really young,
but once she got to school, the mark of her heredity also set her apart as “different.” And, as most people know, “different” can be dangerous territory in the schoolyard.
Kids teased LeCounte about how she looked. “People can say appearance doesn’t matter, but it affected me,” she says. “When someone looks at you with disgust, you remember that for the rest of your life.”
The teasing mercifully stopped as she got older, but whenever LeCounte spoke with someone, she felt their eyes looking not at her, but at her mouth. “It was very distracting,” she says.
LeCounte got married, had six children (including son Richard, (current star safety for the Georgia Bulldogs) and lived with her tooth gap — and the insecurities surrounding it — for 40 long years. The choices always felt limited; she was afraid to get braces, and having perfectly healthy teeth pulled and replaced with dentures was simply not an option. Then, one day while searching on the internet with her sister, who also disliked her own gap, they discovered exactly what LeCounte had been looking for: a painless, convenient, and cost-effective cosmetic fix. Snap-On Smile is an acrylic arch that snaps directly onto the teeth to temporarily enhance a person’s smile. You can eat, drink and talk with ease. LeCounte’s new smile
is proof of how authentic it looks, and her story is evidence of how much it can change a life.
LeCounte sought out Dr. Scott Cohen of Cohen Dental, one of the few dentists in the area who offers Snap-On Smile.
“Basically, it’s a temporary cosmetic fix, kind of like false eyelashes,” Cohen explains. “They’re meant to be worn when you’re out and about, then removed when you come home.”
An ideal Snap-On Smile candidate is someone with healthy teeth (it can’t be worn over dentures) who’s looking to temporarily enhance their smile. A single arch, which runs about $1,600, can break or stain,
and will require replacement every few years. Cohen notes that a Snap-On Smiles is particularly effective for covering gaps either between the teeth or where a tooth is missing. It comes in a broad range of shades and sizes. However, as Cohen points out, the covers are 3 millimeters thick, so they cannot make large teeth appear smaller, and they could make already protruding teeth more apparent.
For LeCounte, however, the stars — or rather, the teeth — were perfectly aligned with Snap-On Smile. “I held myself back for many years from talking because of how I felt about myself,” she says. “Now, I feel like I can be persuasive with my words rather than having people be captivated by my teeth.”
And if LeCounte ever does decide to embrace her physical marker as a Blocker, well, she still has that option, too.