By Ronald K. Grief, D.D.S., as published in St. Louis Women’s Journal, October/November 2007
We can’t stop aging, but we can make the best of what we already have. Looking after your skin and general appearance is one step. But, what about your teeth? They are a revealing sign of aging. However, surprising things can be done today to reverse this process.
Teeth are one of the first features that people look at. Our teeth deteriorate over the years, gradually taking on more and more imperfections that betray our age, or make us look even older than we really are. How can a middle-aged woman stay young looking? Maybe she has good genes, takes good care of her skin, and maybe even has had facial cosmetic surgery. To look at her you wouldn’t be able to guess her real age. That is until she smiles.
So how do your teeth betray your age? Their color changes over time losing brightness and luminosity, becoming darker. Dental wear will shorten teeth making them look “stubby”. Years of food, nicotine and fluid stains can also stain teeth permanently
Tooth shape: The natural smile line is a gentle convex. But extensive wear on our teeth can change this to a straight or even concave line (reversed curve). Tooth grinding, prompted by stress, accelerates this dental erosion. Chipped tooth edges are another sign, creating an unbalanced and less harmonious look.
Tooth crack lines: Over time, micro fractures can appear on the enamel surface. While perhaps superficial, they can show up as little crack lines which will down grade the attractiveness of the teeth.
Filled front teeth: White fillings in the front teeth need to be regularly replaced or they can change color and start to look obvious. They may even show dark lines between the edge of the filling and the natural tooth.
Smile color: White reflects light and dark absorbs it. A mouth with silver mercury (amalgam) fillings in many of the teeth will present an overall dull grey color that absorbs light and therefore looks dark.
Your lips: Over time the lips lose muscle tone and become thinner and narrower. The top lip can sag, covering more of the upper teeth. The lower lip may also drop, showing more of the lower teeth. Consulting with a cosmetic surgeon can help determine what’s right for you.
What can be done to restore a more youthful look?
Your smile is the key to your facial appearance so you need to do something about any old, worn, chipped and discolored teeth you have and remove these obvious clues to aging. The essence in good cosmetic/aesthetic dentistry is to combine modern techniques with artistic flair – so that no one can guess what has been done!
There are many ways of improving your teeth. Here are some examples that vary in range of price and amount of time it takes:
Re-contouring – A little bleaching whitens the teeth and slight reshaping restores the edges of the teeth to what they were.
Replacing fillings – using modern materials for the front and most prominent teeth can cause the dental restoration work to blend in with the general color of the tooth.
Bonding – A synthetic material that looks like natural tooth enamel is bonded to the tooth enamel surface. It can be altered and shaped to many desirable contours and can be applied to the upper front teeth. These should last from 3 to 10 years.
Veneers – A technique similar to bonding, only more permanent. A thin, hard porcelain veneer is individually made for each tooth to the correct color, size and shape. Porcelain is as durable as the original tooth enamel, so the restored tooth will last for decades rather than years.
Look in the mirror for a few minutes. Decide what parts of your face, and your smile, you would like to rejuvenate. The consult with a cosmetic dentist you can show you an accurate simulation of how treatment would look on your face.
Dentistry can reverse the aging of your looks and restore self-confidence tremendously! Call today for a free consultation to see how you can change your smile.