OUR MEGABUCK SMILES; These Dazzling Hollywood Smiles Show What Cosmetic Dentistry Can Now Do - at a Price. So Could You Have Teeth like These (and Just How Much Would It Hurt?) Goodhealth

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TODAY'S celebrities have one thing in common - incredibly straight, superwhite, healthy teeth.

But don't think for one minute that they are all genetically blessed.

From Catherine Zeta-Jones to David Bowie, most appear to have visited a cosmetic dentist at some point in their careers - with some truly spectacular results.

Creating a smile to dazzle your fans is not just a question of a few fillings, a brace and lessons on dental hygiene. The most common cure for unattractive teeth is a veneer.

This is a thin layer of porcelain, custom-made to fit over the front surface of the tooth - as a false nail fits over a fingernail.

Veneers can also be made more cheaply using composite material - often a mix of plastic and glass.

But they are not usually as good.

When veneers are used to build up the outer teeth, the result is called a 'smile lift' because it subtly change the way you smile.

When teeth are damaged - usually by decay - a veneer will not be enough.

Dentists need to use crowns, a hollow, porcelain 'tooth' not just for aesthetic reasons, but also to protect the nerve and root of the original tooth.

Crowns fit right over what's left of the original dental work to give the appearance of a natural tooth.

Where the original tooth is very badly decayed, dentists may need to use implants - titanium rods which are surgically screwed into the jaw bone - to which dentures or crowns can be attached.

PLACING an implant requires a small operation which can be carried out under local anaesthetic, with sedation or with a general anaesthetic.

You will not feel any pain at the time, but you may feel some discomfort during the week following surgery.

This is usually due to having stitches in place, and the normal healing process.

Your dentist will be able to give you a provisional timetable before the treatment begins.

The new teeth are usually fitted six to nine months later as the implant needs to bond (integrate) with the bone. This takes at least three months in the lower jaw and six months in the upper jaw.

Sometimes the implants are stable enough for the artificial teeth to be attached much sooner than this.

Finally, when the client is looking for purely cosmetic results, dentists may use lasers to sculpt the shape of the gum line itself into a more flattering shape.

Veneers, crowns and other cosmetic dental procedures are available on the NHS - although you will often be entitled to these types of treatments only if you are considered to be a deserving case - for example you have such terrible teeth that they are affecting you psychologically or your teeth have been damaged in an accident.

Some newly qualified dentists may also offer these treatments at a reduced rate as way of improving their skills.

We asked top British cosmetic dentist Dr Mervyn Druian of Druian and Spektor in Hampstead, North London, to take a look at the before and after pictures of some well-known smiles and tell us exactly how each celebrity might have transformed their appearance - and how much it may have cost.

It seems that anyone can have a Hollywood smile within a matter of weeks - as long as they have the bank balance to match.

MARTINE McCUTCHEON: [pounds sterling]12,000

THIS is an excellent example of the way good dental work can improve self-confidence. Martine's teeth were uneven and overlapped quite a lot, left.

She has an exceptionally wide smile, showing her top teeth right back to the molars - so I think she has had up to 12 of her top teeth veneered to get the very white, neat result you see today.

She probably had the work done in the UK and the good news is that cosmetic dental work is tax deductible for actresses.

TOM CRUISE: [pounds sterling]15,000

TOM appears to have had just about everything done, right. …