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How 3D Scanners and Artificial Intelligence Are Perfecting Teeth – The Hollywood Reporter

A major director had scheduled a quick lunch just before leaving for an out-of-town shoot, but when he bit down on something hard and cracked a back tooth, his plans were suddenly in limbo. He raced to the Brentwood office of Dr. Jon Marashi, explaining the urgency.

The aesthetic dentist skipped the usual goopy impressions and instead captured details of the director’s bite with a 3D scanner in less than a minute. The digital file was immediately input into a 3D printer, which created a replica of the broken tooth. Using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) dental milling machine, a new porcelain crown was quickly fabricated, verified on the printed model, and within hours bonded onto the patient’s damaged tooth.

“The industry standard turnaround for a crown has always been two weeks, but this entire process was three and a half hours,” notes Marashi, whose patient roster includes Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Goldie Hawn, Cher, Pink, producer Jennifer Todd and Ben Harper.

“I had a previous version of the scanner and it was the biggest waste of money because the resolution was terrible, slow and not accurate, like a dial-up modem — but this one, called the Treos, is super kick-ass and like high-speed internet,” Marashi adds. “It takes 45 seconds to get the image of an entire mouth.”

In recent years, high-tech advances including lasers, digital scanners and printers, artificial intelligence and augmented reality have made even the most involved dental intervention a much quicker, easier and more predictable experience.

Patients now have more control over a smile’s outcome. “There is a new mix of augmented reality and artificial intelligence that works by capturing a scan of the person’s face and allowing us to morph a filter onto it,” explains Dr. Alex Fine, who works in the office of Dr. Marc Lowenberg, where Chris Rock, Julianna Margulies, Kelly Ripa and Liev Schreiber are patients. “It’s as if you are creating an Instagram filter uniquely designed for patients that shows what they would look like with their best smiles.” The patient then takes part in the process, helping decide what is optimal.

“It works well because there are different characteristics that look beautiful on different people,” explains Dr. Robert Raimondi, of One Manhattan Dental. “We can superimpose [the scan] on photos of a face and alter size, shape, shade, number of teeth, and show them what is actually possible in their mouth.” Raimondi also integrates the internal scanner with a CT Scan and robotic surgery to increase the precision of implant placement. “It’s so cool,” he says.

Dr. Shawn Flynn has patients weigh in on their smiles without an additional visit to his Beverly Hills office. “I just finished a case for someone on a TV show, and we had his scan on file, so we were able to go back and forth with the images without him having to come in again,” he notes.

Gummy smiles used to require surgical tools and a drill, but the handheld LiteTouch laser, developed in Israel, is now able to remove gum tissue and bone, raising the upper teeth without traditional surgery. “It’s less invasive, less painful and heals more quickly,” reports Fine.

The LiteTouch also removes old veneers by melting the adhesive, so dentists no longer have to painstakingly grind them off and potentially damage underlying teeth. “I had a woman who had terrible veneers,” recalls Marashi. “The work was garbage and her bite was messed up. I had all her veneers off in 15 minutes without destroying any natural tooth. This tech is about as spanking new as it gets!”

Even whitening is less of an ordeal. “The new lasers no longer heat the teeth the way they did, and the gel isn’t so harsh, so it’s much gentler for people with sensitive teeth,” points out Dr. Lana Rozenberg, who tends to the smiles of Justin Theroux and Kristin Davis.

The new technologies are particularly useful for productions. Rozenberg tells of a heartthrob British actor who cracked his tooth while on set. “He bit into something, and he wasn’t laughing, but we were able to use the scanner and get him out of the office and back to work with a new tooth in an hour and a half,” she says. “It’s amazing that we don’t even need to take impressions, which is perfect for gaggers. You can even make night guards on the printer.”

Actresses are never too young to head to an aesthetic dentist. When Madison Taylor Baez, 11 at the time, lost a baby tooth on the set of Showtime’s Let the Right One In, she was rushed to Lowenberg, who quickly scanned her mouth and printed her a temporary tooth to get her through the shoot.

Recently, a new AI program was offered to dentists that actually reads and interprets X-rays. “It’s mind-boggling,” says Rozenberg with a laugh. “Soon dentists will be obsolete.”

While scanning and printing of molds and trial smiles can be done digitally, and some dentists are using 3D printers to actually create veneers for front as well as back teeth, Lowenberg explains: “Although these advancements are great and very new, the final step of a true Hollywood smile needs subtlety and artistry, which is still only achieved by the hand of a master ceramist.”


Top row, from left: Kelly Ripa, Justin Theroux, Cher, Chris Rock.

Bottom row, from left: Ben Harper, Julianna Margulies, Ben Affleck, Pink

A version of this story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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