We all know someone who does not look their age. Whether it be their hair, lack of wrinkles, or just the way they present themselves. They seem to defy time by staying active and being young at heart. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who are older than their years. This group is plagued by aging skin, may be prematurely grey or balding or just have something about them that seems aged. We say, that life has taken their toll on this group.
“A smile takes but a moment, but the memory of it lasts forever.”
Did you know we also have a dental age? As we age, our teeth will change as well. They can get darker, crack and thin, become worn down from various activities, become elongated, or shift position from periodontal disease, or we can even suffer from loss of teeth.
Changes To Teeth That Make Us Look Older
-Darkening or Yellowing of Teeth. Our teeth will darken over time just from daily life. This can include foods we eat, smoking, and even our choice of drink. Most people associate youth with a bright, white smile. Having a darkened, yellowing smile can often make you appear less attractive to others and older than you actually are.
-Worn Down Teeth. As we age, we lose some of the enamel on our teeth. As the cusps of our teeth wear down from chewing, teeth grinding, nail biting, as well as other habits. This will lead to your bite collapsing a little at a time. This coincided with our skin losing elasticity over time can create sagging skin and wrinkles around the mouth. Wear also happens with aggressive brushing, high acid foods, and cracking or chipping from brittleness.
-Gum Recession. If we do not maintain proper dental care throughout life we can develop periodontal disease. One of the consequences of periodontal disease is gum tissue recession. This exposes more of our teeth making them appear longer than they actually are. “Long in the tooth”. This is another sign people perceive as something an older person would have.
-Missing Teeth. Although tooth loss can occur at any age, missing teeth makes you appear older. Having a full complement of teeth in your smile is far more attractive than one littered with spaces from missing teeth. Missing teeth cause surrounding teeth to shift, and your bite to lose it’s vertical height. Over-closed teeth make your lower face look collapsed, wrinkled, and old.
-Broken or stained dental work. Over time, both crowns and dental fillings may begin to fail and need to be replaced. This is especially true in the front of the mouth where mismatched colors, stained fillings, and chips in teeth are readily apparent when we smile.
How To Recapture A Youthful Dental Smile?
Modern dentistry has developed quite a few procedures to maintain a youthful attractive smile. These include:
-Teeth Whitening. This is quite possibly the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure today. It is safe and effective and comes in a few forms. These forms include in office whitening, at home whitening (with dentist provided trays), as well as use of teeth whitening strips, and topical gels. All of these methods are quite effective for most people. It has been proven by research time and again, that people find a whiter smile to be more youthful and attractive. People tend to feel better about themselves when they are happy with their appearance. Teeth whitening can give patients a dramatic change to their smile with minimal cost and time invested.
-Teeth Contouring. This might be one of the simplest and most cost effective cosmetic dentistry procedures of all. It is usually done without the need for anesthesia and can be as simple as filing down a tooth that appears longer or is slightly out of alignment with the others. Most patients are quite surprised at how such a small adjustment can alter their smile for the better.
-Dental Bonding. While dental bonding is also used to restore teeth damaged by tooth decay it can also be used as a composite veneer to change color or shape, fix chipped teeth, or close small gaps in your smile. Dental bonding is the process in which tooth colored dental materials are bonded to a tooth. This procedure is also a quicker fix and can usually be completed in a single visit. This procedure can easily alter your smile in as little as an hour. A very easy way to make your smile youthful looking again.
-Gum contouring and Gum grafting. Evening out gum levels can help teeth to look more evenly sized and can make short teeth appear longer. Gum grafts can fix areas where gum recession has occurred to make everything appear even and natural again.
-Porcelain Veneers and Porcelain Crowns. Over time our smiles change. Teeth can get worn down, can shift, or maybe you were born with a smile that was not quite perfect. Porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns can be a great way to replace lost tooth structure and alter imperfect teeth creating a more youthful appearance. These cosmetic dentistry procedures tend to require multiple visits but the results will give you a beautiful, youthful smile. Porcelain Veneers are custom made, ultra thin, tooth colored shells that are adhesively bonded to the teeth. This allows the cosmetic dentist to not only alter color of your teeth, but shape and length as well. Porcelain veneers are sometimes called instant orthodontics. This is because porcelain veneers can change the alignment of teeth if the alignment issues are not too extreme. Porcelain crowns can be used on teeth that either already have crowns or need more extensive work (having large restorations or tooth decay). Both porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns can as used in cosmetic dentistry to give the patient a flawless, more youthful and attractive smile.
-Dental Implants. Dental implants allow cosmetic dentists another option in tooth replacement to recreate a youthful, attractive smile. Whether it is a single tooth or a full mouth restoration, dental implants can fill that need. Missing teeth or open spaces has long been considered a sign of old age. Having a full set of white teeth screams youth especially when they are bright, white, and sparkling. When a person is missing a tooth they have several options. There are partial and complete dentures (including the all on 4 dental implants system), traditional bridges, and dental implants. A dental implant can look and feel just like a natural tooth. It is also easier to keep clean than a traditional bridge. Dental implants are placed directly into bone creating a solid foundation for a natural tooth replacement.
-Bite Reclamation. Over time as we age, we tend to lose some height on our teeth. This loss of height of height is also referred to as loss of vertical dimension. Some other factors that cause this loss include acid reflux or teeth grinding (bruxism). Reclaiming a person’s bite utilizing dental implants and porcelain crowns will increase vertical height which will also remove some of the wrinkles around the mouth. These wrinkles develop as our we age and our mouth’s sag from this loss of dimension. Cosmetic dentistry can fix some of this.
-Botox and Dermal Fillers. Long the realm of cosmetic surgeons, dentistry has now added these procedures to give what is called a dental facelift. In combination with dental work, removing some of those wrinkles on the face and around the mouth specifically will better frame that beautiful, white, youthful smile.
Dental Age Conclusion
Most of us want to stay young as long as possible. We go to the gym, dye our hair, and try to maintain the cosmetics of a youthful smile. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums can help you to keep feeling young and health. As always, maintain a regular schedule of dental examinations and professional cleanings for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.