It’s inevitable that over time what is considered the norm changes as new information or technology becomes available. One area in dentistry that has seen some significant adjustments relates to use of the golden proportion. It can be difficult to transition the golden proportion to the dental sphere, which is why many have adapted it to more feasible formulations.
In dentistry, the long established theory of this ‘naturally beautiful’ proportion has changed to reflect not only tooth width, but also a clearer representation of facial esthetics. Width requirements for esthetics are viewed from a more comprehensive perspective.
Applying the Golden Proportion to Dentistry
The go-to for considerations of the golden proportion in dentistry is Dr. Stephen R. Snow’s paper, “Esthetic smile analysis of maxillary anterior tooth width: the golden percentage.” In it, he describes the controversy over applying the golden proportion to esthetics of dominance and proportion in the maxillary teeth.
The golden proportion is simply a mathematical means of comparing the ratio between a smaller and larger length. That larger length then holds the same ratio to the total length.
One of the central points Dr. Snow makes in his analysis is that the proportion can’t be applied in a unilateral manner because symmetry is then ignored. This is why Dr. Snow discusses the ‘golden percentage’ as an alternative that can ensure easy bilateral analysis of teeth.
The golden percentage for the total canine-to-canine width provides an optimal application. Overall, this approach to esthetics capitalizes on the golden proportion while taking dental needs into consideration.
For a formula you can use directly in your cases, you can check out Dr. Catalano’s article on an ideal tooth width proportion formula here.