In my experience, a lot of patients don’t realize how much choice we have in designing how our final smile looks. There are many ways to customize your smile, so, as an example, I’ll take you through the thought process behind crafting mine. Hopefully it can help inspire you to have a candid conversation about your goals with your Invisalign dentist as you’re planning your orthodontic treatment!
Typically in orthodontics, the ideal overbite is anywhere between 5-25% coverage of the lower arch. Before I started orthodontic treatment, my overbite was closer to 5-8% and when I smiled, my top and lower teeth were "exposed". What I wanted is a smile with less of my lower teeth visible. Most significant profile changes require teeth extraction, but I did not want to go that treatment route, so my dentist recommended more than usual IPR (interproximal reduction) to achieve the noticeable change I was seeking.
The end result has my lower teeth barely visible when I smile, with my overbite significantly larger, about 20 percent. In terms of words / phrases you can use with future conversations with your dental practitioner, my smile was definitely "larger" as you can see from the first photo but not "wider" as you can see a shadow in the corner of my mouth. My upper arch was widened and reached the corner of my mouth, but now, my smile is considerably less wide and "smaller" than my smile before.
Take a look at the below examples of overbites before and after treatment
5-8% overbite before ortho treatment. Photo taken in 2010 VERSUS
20% overbite post ortho treatment. Photo taken 09/2021
For potential orthodontic patients considering treatment, I recommend taking photos of yourself from different angles, and showing those alongside images of the kind of smiles you really like. They may not be able to give you the exact smile you are looking for (because everyone's mouth and teeth are different) but they can give you options to help you achieve the smile that fits your face, while still incorporating elements of your ideal smile when possible.
For those nearing refinements, my advice would be to look at your ‘before’ photos and take a normal photo (not an orthophoto) of your smile. Take into consideration how your entire mouth looks in the regular photo (lips, cheeks, chin, etc.). Then, request any improvements you'd like, being as descriptive as possible (don’t worry about sounding verbose). This will stimulate productive conversation with your orthodontist and better help them suggest treatment options to get you closer to your dental dreams!