Limitations of 2-Dimensional (2D) Digital Smile Design & how to overcome it

Study by Ralph Georg


The Smile Design concept has progressively evolved over the last 2 decades from analog to digital designing, which has advanced from 2D to 3D, and many dental professionals worldwide contributed to these developments, like Michel Magne, Livio Yoshinaga, Jan Haito, Paulo Kano, Christian Coachman, Alan Method – just to name a few.

2D Smile Design has been based on outlining a smile frame over the patient’s photo following mathematical rules such as the Golden Proportion and the Recurrent Esthetic Dental (RED) proportion for years now.

From a dental planning point of view, some limitations and discrepancies may occur in the 2D digital smile design:

  • The 2D Smile Design is a teeth template that only outlines the buccal surface of the centrals and laterals, buccal/mesial surface of the canines, premolars, and molars.  It does not give accurate information on the width of the tooth.

1 – 2D smile outline gives you a frontal static view of the proposed smile

This is because the 2D design is drawn over a natural tooth in a specific arch, which can be oval, square, or circular. Depending on the arch type, the tooth rotation will generate a different visualization of the tooth from a frontal view.

2 – ( canine and its different angulation depending on the different arch shapes. It shows that a 2D smile simulation can’t be used as a sole reference to a treatment plan as it does not give accurate teeth proportions)

As the smile outline is being adjusted outward, the teeth outline is being stretched out instead of covering the entire buccal surface of the existing canines, premolars, and molars.

3 – the 2D teeth outline stretches out instead of covering the entire buccal surface of the existing teeth

Since the smile outline does not follow the curvature of the patient’s upper arch from an occlusal perspective, discrepancies will occur when you take the 2D Smile Design to create a 3D digital mockup, especially on the posterior teeth. Therefore, making 2D smile designs is unrealistic for proper treatment plans and suitable for educating and motivating patients.

4 – 2D Digital Smile Outline does not follow the curvature of the patient’s upper arch from an occlusal perspective. Discrepancies will occur when you take the 2D Smile Design to create a 3D digital mockup.

So, is there any benefit to using 2D Smile Design?

Smile simulations create a tremendous impact during the patient’s first consultation as it drafts the smile giving the patient a better understanding of what can be achieved. One of the fastest and easiest Digital Smile Design software available today is SmileFy. It lets you show the esthetic changes through a simulation over a picture in just 1 minute, allowing you to explain treatment options to achieve the ideal smile makeover

5 – 2D Digital Smile Design is excellent for marketing, education, and a draft of a new smile.

2D Digital Smile Design can not be used as a treatment plan, but it can help you as: 

  • An educational tool for the Patient 
  • Marketing tool for the practice
  • A first draft of the treatment plan 

     When to use it? 

  • First Consultation 
  • To Educate the Patient 
  • To manage your Patient’s expectation
  • To upsell cases

How to Overcome the Limitations of 2-Dimensional Digital Smile Design ? 

The Next Generation of Digital Smile Design focuses on the 3D environment shifting how we produce our dental wax-ups. 3D digital dental mockups help you deliver more realistic dental mockups, shorten the steps of digital smile design and collaborate better with dental technicians and other dentists to conquer more assertive final restorations.

6a – Analog Dental Wax-up

6b – Digital Facially Driven Wax-up

SmileFy is the new technology and the evolution of smile designs that help you connect better with your patients through Smile Simulations and 3D digital dental mockups using the face to reference the overall aesthetics. Its digital results are done in the dental practice, and it’s fast and easy to use. 

7 – SmileFy Digital Smile Design Software available on AppStore

As you design over the patients’ photographs and other digital files (such as intraoral scans and CBCT), dental professionals design and deliver the patient’s new smile while focusing on the dental characteristics and unique facial structures to achieve esthetic harmonic smiles.

7 – SmileFy Digital Smile Design Software available on AppStore

SmileFy contains a variety of Natural 3D Teeth Templates that can be replicated into temporaries and final restorations. In addition, it is accessible to every SmileFy Member when using its technology on iPhone, iPad, and MacBook (Download on AppStore Here) and exportable to any other software or printer.

9- SmileFy 3D Digital Smile Design Planning Tool allows you to plan, reduce time, and increase profitability and predictability.

With one purpose in mind, SmileFy was created to help you, a dental clinician, achieve higher predictability while connecting with your patients and assessing the treatment plan you’re proposing.

Available on iPhone, iPad, & Mac

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