Local dentist to appear on makeover TV program

By Paige Orr
September 02, 2003

One local cosmetic dentist is headed for the small screen this fall, which could mean a surge in customer traffic at his Brentwood office.

Dr. Dennis Wells was selected to treat patients featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” shows, slated to begin airing in late September or early October. Wells anticipates that he will be included in about three different shows involving what he calls “smile makeovers.”

If past viewer response is any indication, Wells could be in for a flood of phone calls after the shows air.

Dr. Bill Dorfman, a cosmetic dentist in California, was featured in the first episode of “Extreme Makeover.” Following the show, Dorfman found he had to turn away hundreds of callers, according to Eric Nelson, spokesman for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, an organization focused on the art and science of cosmetic dentistry.

Nelson said the demand for cosmetic dental procedures has skyrocketed in recent years — demand for tooth whitening alone has increased by more than 300 percent since 1996, he said.

Costs for smile makeovers, or cosmetic procedures involving 8-10 teeth, range from about $6,000 to $40,000, depending on the area of the country and the level of dentistry required, according to Wells, who declined to comment on specific financials related to his Brentwood operation.

The ABC program won’t be the first time Wells has been included in a television show.

The Learning Channel’s “A Personal Story” featured a smile makeover from Wells, who said the exposure resulted in more patient draw from a national level.

“I’m expecting a good deal of patient increase form [the ABC] show,” Wells said.

He attributes the boom in cosmetic dentistry over the past decade to a growing population of baby boomers with disposable income who want to look and feel good.

“Also, there’s been a big cosmetic revolution, in terms of materials and techniques,” Wells said, noting that translucent tooth-like materials and the use of laser adhesion have replaced the previous use of a lot of metals in cosmetic dentistry.