I was just out in Scottsdale, Arizona attending a continuing education course sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. For those of you not in the know, continuing education courses are a required part of remaining board certified, and a fantastic way of keeping up to date with the latest advances in pediatric dentistry. Typically, one chooses a course based on your level of interest in the subject matter (laser dentistry, orthodontics, conscious sedation, behavior management), but oftentimes the location of the course is also important. Some of us like to stick close to home but others prefer traveling to places that we wouldn’t otherwise get an opportunity to visit. Either ways, it’s a win win.
One of the courses taught at this most recent conference was given by a fella by the name of Andrew Sonis, D.M.D. Andy happens to be a dual trained pediatric dentist and orthodontist, and was for decades, a member of the faculty at the Department of Dentistry at Boston Children’s Hospital. So he knows his stuff. He was also my research adviser (“Acquisition of Mutans Streptococci and Caries Prevalence in Pediatric Sickle Cell Anemia Patients Receiving Long-term Antibiotic Therapy” – look it up, it’s a great read!) He gave a fantastic overview of orthodontics including treatment recommendations for our younger patients, but by far, the best part of his talk was when he showed us a picture of Tom Cruise.
Now Tom Cruise probably has one of the most famous smiles in show business. His face has graced many a movie poster (Top Gun! Mission Impossible! The Color of Money! Risky Business) and he is fodder for the paparazzi. I’ve spent many a wasted hour gazing at his face on the cover of People magazine while waiting in the grocery line. He’s got a smile that many of us wished we have.
One of the golden pillars of orthodontics is that symmetry is essential. Orthodontists do their best to ensure that a patient’s smile is symmetrical because a skewed smile simply doesn’t look right. In fact, one of the goals in orthodontics is to ensure that a patient’s upper dental midline is coincident with the facial midline. Huh?!!! In English, this means that if you drew a line down the center of a person’s face (ie. over the middle of the nose), this line should line up with a line drawn between the upper two central incisors (the large front teeth in the middle). Look at yourself in the mirror – most people have this symmetrical smile.
Not Tom Cruise. His upper dental midline is significantly shifted over to the left side of his face. This is hard to tell in most of his pictures as they are taken at an angle, but for photos that are straight on, this abnormality becomes quite obvious. I must admit, ever since I found this out, I’ve been unhealthily obsessed with looking at Tom’s teeth. It’s not too clear to me how it is that Tom’s upper midline came to be – most orthodontics would have addressed this issue.
So what’s the takeaway from this? Well clearly, the fact that Tom’s midline is not coincident hasn’t hurt his acting career. Also, I need to keep current with celebrity gossip as given the number of articles on this issue (try google searching “Tom Cruise Teeth”), I may be the last person on Earth to find out about his midline discrepency.