Mani-pedi, facial, Pilates class…dental appointment? We don’t usually think of a visit to the dentist as a beauty or grooming ritual. “But nothing enhances your looks and boosts your confidence more than a beautiful smile, and nothing takes years off your face like relief from chronic tooth, mouth or jaw pain,” says Dr. Ruth Gomes of VivaSmiles Advanced Dentistry in Clayton. “People can spend hours in the gym and plenty of money on cosmetics, but a less-than-perfect smile can throw off the whole look.”

    Gomes and her team at VivaSmiles thrive on providing their patients with confident, pain-free smiles. “Our goal is perfection, whether you come to us for general dentistry or Lumineers, dental implants or even advanced temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) and headache treatment,” she says. “Skillful dentistry makes you look better…and feel better, too. To me, having a dazzling Hollywood smile is not only about beauty, it’s about health.”

    The office environment is both health-focused and indulgent. “We’re offering an entirely new dental experience, where advanced technology and artistry come together in a pampering, spa-like setting,” Gomes explains. “We’re a boutique practice.” The usual antiseptic smells have been replaced by soothing aromatherapy; patients enjoy massage chairs and neck pillows. A coffee and juice bar and in-chair TV and music keep the experience relaxed. A computerized device known as ‘the wand’ delivers anesthesia painlessly.  “A big focus of our practice is patient comfort,” she says. “We want to make sure their visits are as stress-free as possible.”

    Once you’re blissfully stretched out in one of those comfy chairs, the transformation begins. “We develop a custom treatment plan for each patient, and computers have improved the quality of care we can give,” says Gomes. “We’re one of the few practices in the Midwest with an iCAT 3D X-ray machine, which allows us to precisely plan implants and orthodontic and TMJ treatment without guesswork. Our success rate with these procedures is in the top percentile.”

    VivaSmiles is also one of the only practices in the area with specialized training in neuromuscular dentistry (NMD), which focuses on proper occlusion or bite. “NMD is not only about how teeth should look, but how they should function,” Gomes notes. “If your bite is misaligned, it can result in chronic headaches, clicking and popping of the jaw, numbness in the fingertips, ringing of the ears, excessive snoring and sleep apnea, even Bell’s palsy. Our restorations look beautiful and last longer because they function properly.”

     Because the field of dentistry is always expanding and improving, Gomes encourages her entire staff to constantly update their techniques. “My employees and I have thousands of combined hours of continuing education,” she says. “I even bring my assistants to audit my courses with me, to make them better able to help in the care of our patients.” She currently is pursuing advanced training in cosmetic dentistry and NMD at LVI Global, renowned as a center for cosmetic restoration and treatment of TMJ pain. “Dentistry is a highly technical process requiring great skill,” Gomes says. “All of us at VivaSmiles are dedicated to the craft. We want to make visiting the dentist’s office as enjoyable as possible, so patients look forward to it as much as we do.”