Interview with Dr. Carolina Manresa, specialist in Interdisciplinary Aesthetic Dentistry

“A smile improves everything”

You have sometimes described yourself as a specialist in smiles. What does your work involve?

It may look simple, but my work covers many dentistry specialisations: periodontics, dental implantology (which are surgical specialisations), prosthodontics and aesthetic dentistry (which are restoration specialisations). It’s really all about helping patients regain the ability to chew after losing teeth or suffering severe wear, while at the same time we recover their smile with a completely natural look and balanced facial features.

Is that where Pretty Bites Healthy Smiles® comes from?

Indeed! It’s a combination of science and art geared towards a single goal: a pretty, healthy mouth.

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I have no doubt that I would choose dentistry again.

Why did you decide to study dentistry?

From a very young age I was especially skilful with my hands. I begged my parents to sign me up for extra-curricular activities in plastic arts. They did so, but in return I had to study the piano and go swimming a lot. In any case, I was always very dextrous with my hands.

I studied sciences at secondary school and very much enjoyed biology and technical drawing, but little by little I became interested in healthcare matters. In fact, I also dreamed about being an architect to be able to design and build. In the end I chose something that would help me concentrate and hone all of these skills in a single profession: dentistry.

Would you do it again? Choose dentistry?

Yes, without a doubt.

What should we know about dentistry?

That only “slow dentistry” can give quality and assurance. And that in these times it’s essential to place our oral and dental health in qualified, professional hands that use techniques that preserve our natural teeth as much as possible. One should stay away from “miracle cures” and “beauty parlour dentistry”. In the end, we’re dealing with our health.

And why do you think we don’t take quality seriously?

It’s not that we don’t take it seriously; the thing is there has been a boom in dental practices promising countless solutions that have little to do with reality. I’m talking about our reality as healthcare professionals.

You can’t expect great results if a doctor can only dedicate 15 minutes to a patient.

One fact can illustrate what I mean: 35% of my work involves correcting previous unsatisfactory treatment performed on the patients, which means we have to start back from before the actual treatment begins.

What are you proud of?

Of having had the chance to take part as a volunteer in rural dentistry brigades when I collaborated with Dentists Without Borders and the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in Anantapur in southern India.

I helped as best I could and I never thought I would get so much out of it in return! The best reward was the loving, sincere smiles of hundreds of people.

What do you see when you look in a mouth?

I can recognise signs of a person’s character because I can see their habits in there (and not only dietary habits). I also imagine how I could improve their countenance and expression through their smile, and I quickly create a mental composition of how it would look. I compare their mouth with a painting and their lips are that painting’s frame. I always do it; I can’t help it. [Laughter.]

What relationship do you have with your patients?

Although they have their mouth open most of the time, in other words they can’t talk, I’m fortunate to be able to say that I know my patients very well and have a good connection with them.

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For me, each patient is a world.

The complex treatments that involve a substantial change in terms of both aesthetics and functionality need to be completely tailored to the person with a meticulous study of their case. I need to know their preferences and understand their fears. In that sense, I’m “all ears” and each patient is a different world. When I understand what they’re looking for, we get to work.

Have people lost their fear of dentists?

It’s absurd to base your own beliefs on the experiences of others. Dentists don’t do any harm and in any case modern techniques are of great assistance.

When is it advisable to see a specialist in aesthetic dentistry?

When you don’t feel comfortable or you don’t like your smile. I could mention countless oral and dental problems that can make your mouth “ugly”, like small teeth or gaps, dark or stained teeth, severe wear and so on.

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However, I will just say that our gaze and our smile are our calling card. It is most certainly worth taking care of them.

Give me an example of a pretty smile.

Julia Roberts. That’s a classic one that’s hard to beat.

Who do you admire?

The Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai for her determination, steadfastness and courage in defending her ideals, which almost cost her her life.

Do you share her values?

I share her values and I admire her for championing the female right to education in her country, as well as her impressive teachings about peace and tolerance that led her to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

And in terms of dentistry, who do you admire?

Dr. Frank Spear, who is a pioneer in interdisciplinary dentistry as we understand it today. Since the 90s he has headed a renowned educational centre in Arizona, USA. I visit it at least once a year.

What’s your latest project?

A scientific article for the Cochrane Oral Health Group (COHG) about regular visits for maintenance to preserve our teeth.

Is there always a reason to smile?

Always. In any situation, a smile can makes things better.

— Carolina Manresa, 2017