Originally from Ireland, Dr Marie Sanfey relocated to Australia and is now based at our Brisbane CBD practice.
Specialising in cosmetic dentistry, Dr Sanfey loves being able to give her patients the confidence boost that comes with transforming their smiles - something she experienced herself after wearing braces to correct her misaligned teeth as a child!
We chatted to Dr Sanfey about why she became a dentist, what she finds rewarding about improving patients’ smiles, and what advice she’d offer people who are unhappy with their smile.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into dentistry
I’m originally from Ireland and completed my dentistry studies over there, at the University College of Cork.
Growing up, I always really enjoyed art and working with my hands. At the same time, I was considering a career in medicine or healthcare. I figured out that dentistry was something that combined the two, so it was a perfect career choice.
I also had very misaligned teeth when I was younger, which I was very self-conscious about. When I had braces to correct them, it made such a huge difference - I think having experienced that impact made me realise how lovely it would be to help other people feel the same way.
Funnily enough, during my dentistry studies, I actually ended up working for the orthodontist who treated me, which was a nice turn of events!
What attracted you to specialise in cosmetic dentistry?
I mentioned my interest in art above and that’s something I really enjoy about cosmetic dentistry - you have to use your artistic side to get the best results for each patient. I also love knowing I can give patients the confidence boost that comes from improving their smile.
I found that a lot of my patients were interested in cosmetic dentistry and were asking me about their options, and I really wanted to be able to deliver the best standard of treatment. This led me to undertake further studies in this field, completing a 3-year Master’s Degree in Aesthetic Dentistry at King’s College, London.
What are the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments you perform?
Probably the two most common treatments would be teeth whitening and composite veneers.
Teeth whitening is understandably very popular - most people want to get a brighter smile and professional teeth whitening is a really easy and non-invasive way to help them achieve it.
I specialise in composite veneers treatment and have undertaken further training in this area. When it comes to helping a patient achieve a perfect smile, the ideal scenario is to do so without causing damage to the existing teeth. Composite veneers are a fantastic option, as you don’t have to drill or pare down the teeth. You can achieve very similar results to porcelain veneers without impacting the tooth’s surface.
This also makes composite veneers more cost-effective for a lot of patients, which makes this treatment a lot more accessible to people of all ages.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of providing cosmetic dentistry services?
Well, this is something I didn’t anticipate! When I was back in Ireland, my DA kept on at me to start an Instagram page - although I originally only did it as a way to keep patients informed about my treatments, it ended up being an incredible way of connecting with both new and existing patients.
And here’s the best part…by connecting with my patients on social media, I was able to see the ‘before and after’ effects of their cosmetic dentistry treatment in photos. Before their treatment, almost universally, you’d see them hiding their smile in their pictures (or not smiling at all) - but afterwards, they’d be absolutely beaming in every photo! You could literally see the change in their confidence through the pictures, which is so lovely.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’ve always loved travel - we only moved to Australia about a year and a half ago, so we’ve been enjoying exploring Queensland and have plans to check out more of Australia.
We also had our first child last year (he recently turned one), so he’s definitely keeping us very busy!
Finally, what advice would you give to people who are unhappy with their smile but aren’t sure about going down the cosmetic dentistry route?
The first thing I would say is to just have a chat with your dentist about what you’d like to achieve and what your concerns are. People often tend to assume that any kind of cosmetic dentistry is going to be very dramatic or that the results won’t look natural, which isn’t the case. We can even offer a ‘trial smile’, where you get to see the results of your treatment before you start - this is a great way of knowing what to expect.
You might also be surprised at the difference even minor treatment - such as teeth whitening or replacing an old filling - can have. Sometimes the most minimal changes can have a significant impact, so you may not need to have extensive treatment.
Of course, there are more advanced treatments available, but you can always start small and build up over time. Again, chatting to your dentist about the different options available is the best place to start - you may discover there are treatments you didn’t even realise were possible, or that advancements in technology have made traditional cosmetic dentistry treatments much less invasive or costly.