The need for cosmetic flippers evolved during the early days of Hollywood. As an increasing amount of children pursued various activities in the entertainment business, flippers found their ways into more and more little mouths as a kind of makeup for the smile. Recognizing the need for providing these flippers in volume and on short notice, Dr. Smith developed a revolutionary flipper design in the late 1970s. His design took advantage of technological developments in dental materials. It allowed for a 1-2 hour fabrication time, the elimination of bulk from the roof of the mouth, and a clever wire attachment to facilitate a wide range of adjustments as a child's mouth grows and changes shape. Dr. Smith's design was quickly accepted in Hollywood and his work has since appeared in scores of feature films and thousands of television commercials and print work assignments. It is currently estimated that he has constructed over 15,000 flippers for patients.
A custom-designed flipper for
one of Dr. Smith's patients.
Most flippers are made to replace baby teeth that fall out as part of natural exchange for permanent teeth. This exchange of baby teeth for permanent teeth is accompanied by changes in the shape of the front segments of the mouth. The flipper must be made to allow for these changes if it is to serve its purpose for any reasonable length of time. The one feature of the Dr. Smith flipper that most separates it from all others is its adjustability. Anyone can easily identify a Dr. Smith flipper at a glance. The Dr. Smith flipper has an absence of bulk over the roof of the mouth. The absence of bulk over the roof of the mouth facilitates adjustments and, moreover, does not impede the patient's speech.(Click on an image to enlarge)
When replacing baby teeth, it is necessary to choose proper replacement teeth that are appropriate in size, color, and contour. Flipper teeth can be made either to duplicate the teeth that came out or they can be shaped like the permanent teeth that are to come in. The choice between these two options is made to serve the child's needs and the role the child will be playing in a particular film, commercial, or other production. For example, if a tooth loosens and comes out midway through filming a feature, the flipper tooth must duplicate exactly the tooth that came out. Similarly, if the child is playing the part of a five year old, it will be necessary to make the flipper tooth of baby tooth size and shape. On the other hand, if the child is playing seven years old and loses the two front baby teeth, the replacement teeth must be made larger in width and a bit darker in shade to emulate the permanent teeth expected in those positions.(Click on an image to enlarge)
All of Dr. Smith's flippers are fabricated by Dr. Smith in his office on Sunset Blvd. Each flipper is made to match and compliment the child's facial features, skin color, and personality. Dr. Smith keeps an image or a photograph of the child's face in view while he works, and he fabricates the shapes and positions of the teeth accordingly. No other system brings results so natural and appropriate to the individual child.
The Dr. Smith flipper has been the subject of media interest through the years. Articles have been written about Dr. Smith's artwork in the New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, the Phoenix Gazette, and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He has lectured on the subject before his peers and gained a reputation in the pediatric dentistry community from Los Angeles to New York.
Here is a partial list of productions that Dr. Smith has been involved with:
Well, that's flippers—no dolphins and no scuba divers. It's all about teeth—fake teeth. What else would one expect from Hollywood?