Your smile has a dramatic impact on how old you look. Many people spend a great deal of money on creams, serums, and other antiaging products, but perhaps that money and effort would be better directed toward your teeth. The whiteness of your teeth is certainly a factor but even more influential to your appearance is the shape of your teeth and jaw. These characteristics define your face and, when out of proportion, can make a face seem sunken, droopy, and otherwise asymmetrical.
Cosmetic dentistry can correct these issues often without the need for surgery, injectables, and other invasive methods. Your dentist can help you look younger by focusing on your teeth and restoring them to a natural-looking aesthetic, which will lead to remarkable results no matter how old you actually are. You can brighten your smile, eliminate gaps, straighten your teeth, contour them, and take other steps that will beautify your smile, revitalize your appearance, and boost your self-esteem.
How the Years Can Alter Your Smile
The mouth is an organ. It is an integral component of the digestive system and linked to the many other systems within your body. It is affected by aging just as your other organs are. As you get older, the volume of your facial bone and soft tissues reduces. As bone shrinks, skin sags, and wrinkles. Teeth and potentially your jaw lose volume as well. Since the teeth and jaw support fundamental aspects of your facial structure—such as your lips and cheeks—this loss can lead to facial collapse over time.
There are two core ways that your smile can lose volume. The first is that teeth become flatter and shorter over time due to chewing. This is particularly true of the molars and premolars, and this type of wear is accelerated in people with bruxism, which is characterized by teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Shorter teeth result in a shorter face because the bite is collapsed, and thus the upper and lower jaw are closer together, which results in a face looking older and less symmetrical.
Another way that your smile loses volume is your teeth moving inward due to pressure placed on them by your jaw muscles. Jaw clenching also exacerbates this effect because even greater force is exerted on the teeth to move in a particular direction. Over time, your dental arches will narrow due to this pressure and therefore provide reduced support to the cheeks and skin. This change can make your face seem hollow near the cheeks and can cause flattening or curling in of the lips.
Turning Back the Clock With a Smile Makeover
You may be surprised to learn that cosmetic dental treatments are often the most effective way to undo the facial changes associated with aging. Some people may need just a single treatment, such as whitening. Often, however, a synergistic series of dental treatments are necessary, and your dentist will coordinate those procedures in an individualized plan called a smile makeover. Also known as a dental facelift, such a plan can renew your smile aesthetics, reduce wrinkles, restore the facial structure, and address many other issues that are causing you to appear older than you actually are.
Smile makeovers can improve:
- Thin lips
- Hollow cheeks
- Malocclusion (bad bite)
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Yellowed or stained teeth
Cosmetic Dental Procedures for a Younger Appearance
A wide range of cosmetic dental treatments are available to enhance your natural smile. Such treatments will not only transform your smile but your entire face and thus your overall appearance. Which procedures are appropriate for you depends on a number of factors and will be determined by you and your dentist, but let us explore eight of the most common and effective options.
- Teeth Whitening – Professional teeth whitening performed in a dental office is the easiest, most effective, and most economical way to turn back the clock. Even with good oral hygiene, your teeth will yellow with age and become discolored due to the foods and beverages you consume. The whitening process is not just highly effective but fast, safe, minimally invasive, discomfort-free, and relatively inexpensive. The GLO in-office whitening system, for instance, is even suitable for patients with sensitive teeth.
- Dental Veneers – Dental veneers are also a fast and effective way to de-age your smile. Veneers—often made from porcelain—are ultrathin wafers that are designed based on your real teeth. They cover the actual teeth and can hide permanent stains in addition to correcting shape, size, and alignment issues. Veneered teeth are white and straight and combine for a well-proportioned smile, and they allow for this without your dentist having to remove tooth matter or otherwise drastically alter your natural teeth.
- Dental Bonding – When it comes to whitening and contouring a smile, cosmetic dental bonding is among the most conservative options. The bonding material is made of a dental resin that will be colored to match the natural shade of your teeth. Your dentist can then use it not only to correct the tooth color but to lengthen, straighten and otherwise recontour the tooth without affecting the underlying tooth structure. Bonding is an effective way to correct teeth that are crooked, misshapen, and permanently discolored, and those corrections will perfect the smile and improve your facial shape.
- Dental Implants – Most Americans age 50 and up have lost at least one tooth, and even a single lost tooth can have a dramatic effect on how old you look. It does not matter if the lost tooth is imperceptible, such as a molar, and the effect from the loss is not isolated. In fact, it can cause a cascade of negative consequences, including other teeth shifting out of position and disorders of the temporomandibular joint. While there are multiple options to correct missing teeth, most experts agree that dental implants are the ideal procedure because they can last a lifetime and because the titanium post inserted into the jaw mimics a natural tooth root and provides stimulation that prevents bone loss. Modern implants have a near-perfect success rate and provide amazing results, which is due to advanced dental technologies, such as Galileos Cone Beam 3D imaging and SICAT surgical guides.
- Night Guards – Teeth can look old due to the wear and tear that has accumulated over the years. Much of that erosion occurs from gnashing and grinding at nighttime while you sleep. An occlusal splint—colloquially known as a mouth guard or night guard—is an oral appliance that you wear at night while you sleep that not only protects your natural teeth from this wear but your restorations as well. Such guards are custom-made to your mouth in order to provide a proper fit, keep your teeth and jaw in their optimal positions and avoid deterioration from grinding, clenching, and so forth. Consistent use of these appliances can also narrow the arch and lead to higher cheekbones and eyes that are more open.
- Tooth-Colored Fillings – If you have gotten traditional dental restorations over the years, then you may have a mouth full of metal due to metal crowns and mercury fillings. In obvious areas of your smile, those metal restorations can really undermine your appearance, and they are prone to cracking and leaking over time. The best option to correct these is a composite resin that can be colored to match your natural tooth shade. The resin is also more effective than a traditional filling due to the way it bonds with the tooth structure.
- Dental Contouring – Tooth contouring or reshaping is a dental process through which a tooth is polished. Such polishing can correct a wide range of minor imperfections, including sharp angles, worn edges, small chips, uneven tooth length, and slight overlaps. Fixing these issues will make your smile more aligned and symmetrical. It can even be used to correct minor bite issues that occur due to teeth touching, and your dentist can make your teeth more masculine or feminine by squaring or rounding the edges.
- Porcelain Crowns – A dental crown is an effective way to protect and beautify a worn, damaged, or decayed tooth that has a healthy root. Crowns can be made from a number of different materials, but porcelain is preferable because it has a natural appearance and can be colored to the shade of your real teeth. They are also strong and durable and can last decades with regular dental care.
Good Oral Health Fosters Good Systemic Health
Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits that stave off tooth decay and gum disease have benefits beyond your mouth. The Academy of General Dentistry tells us that 90 percent of all systemic diseases trigger oral indications and symptoms in the pre- and earliest stages of the illness. Research also reveals that good oral health makes you less prone to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many other health issues. In addition, avoiding the inflammation associated with poor oral health is more conducive to healthier looking skin and a more youthful and vibrant appearance overall.
Prevention Is the Key to a Beautiful Lifelong Smile
While modern cosmetic dentistry can overcome most dental problems, you should not take a break-fix approach to your oral health. Brush and floss daily but also visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and a professional cleaning. Your dentist can identify issues before they manifest into serious conditions. You can avoid the need for oral restorations, and you can ensure that your mouth is a clean and healthy ecosystem, which will help keep you looking young and attractive.
Perfect and Protect Your Smile
Would you like to appear younger and enjoy a beautiful beaming smile that makes you proud? Scottsdale Dental Excellence would like to help, and we offer everything from simple treatments like teeth whitening to more advanced procedures that will enhance your underlying facial structure. Through modern dental techniques and the latest technologies, Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, can create for you a brighter smile that lends itself to a more balanced and youthful appearance. Whether you need minor corrections or multiple procedures, Dr. Clark will work with you to plan your ideal smile makeover. Call our office today at 480 585 1853 to schedule a smile makeover consultation.