Your smile can have a huge impact on your appearance, and poor dental health can increase your perceived age. In fact, research has shown that a better smile can make people look at least five years younger.
So, what steps can we take to turn back the clock on our smile?
Broaden your smile
“As we age, our teeth keep moving and jaw bones change in shape and density. This may create an uneven and more narrow smile”, explains aesthetic dental expert Dr Kamala Aydazada. “A broad smile is very youthful, while a narrow smile, when predominantly the front teeth are visible, can be very ageing. By 40-50, our lower face proportion starts changing. Our upper lip starts pushing down and covering the teeth and the side and back teeth are pushed inwards. When you smile, the corners of your mouth look like black holes, because the teeth that are there can’t be seen.”
Dentists call this scenario “narrow buccal corridors”. “Adding more volume and structure to the mouth is key to creating a broader smile”, says Dr Kamala, founder of Kensington Cosmetic Dentist. “This is one of the most common reasons why you should treat someone with veneers. Porcelain veneers can add more structure and visibility to your smile, making it more even and eye-pleasing. Some people have slightly more teeth visible on one side, and by adding different thicknesses of the veneers on these teeth, your smile will become more symmetrical, and will in turn provide more symmetry to your face, which is considered to be more youthful.”
Add volume to your teeth
“By fifty, our teeth are quite worn down, because we’ve been using them every single day for half a century”, says Dr Kamala.
Dr Kamala explains the role enamel plays in teeth looking young and healthy. “Tooth enamel tends to wear away with ageing, making the teeth vulnerable to damage and decay”, explains Dr Kamala.
“Teeth get shorter, they look chipped, they get yellower as well, so all that contributes to people wanting a younger look. It’s also the age when you get more wrinkles, your skin becomes saggier and because of that, you lose the support that you had from your teeth on the lower face.”
Adding volume with composite bonding – where a tooth coloured resin is moulded to the tooth and hardened with UV light – can create a fresher appearance, says Dr Kamala. “It could make you look ten years younger to be honest, it makes a massive difference to the lower face proportions, creating a white and more voluminous smile.”
Combat tooth staining
Noticed your teeth looking more yellow in the mirror or on Zoom calls? Dr Kamala says this is a common occurrence as we get older. “As we age, our teeth get darker naturally as enamel thins, while smoking, tea, coffee, wine and juices can also stain your teeth over time.”
Dr Kamala and her teeth advocate professional teeth whitening for those who want to enhance their natural teeth. However, for some veneers are a great longer term solution. “Veneers are more resistant to stains than your natural teeth. If your teeth are naturally prone to accumulate more stains and your diet contains a high amount of staining foods and drinks (such as coffee, cola, red wine to name a few) then veneers may be a great solution for you. Porcelain Veneers are less prone to be affected by your dietary stains and acids, keeping your smile looking young and white. Of course it is still paramount that you visit your dentist for regular check ups and hygiene appointments to take care of those stains accumulation around the veneers and your natural teeth and gum surfaces.”
“They don’t have all the changes that natural teeth would have with age. So, if you have your teeth now, if you take a quick snap of your teeth and you look at it 10 years later, you see a massive difference in the shape of your smile and structures of your teeth because you do literally wear them every day. With veneers, they don’t wear down as much and the surfaces look pretty much similar ten years down the line.”
The evolution of veneers
Dr Kamala explains how veneers have changed over the last decade, moving away from an overly white, uniformed look and heavily shaved down teeth to natural, healthy looking smiles:
“For decades, veneers were more like crowns, and they would require a lot of preparation of the tooth. They would cover broader tooth structure, simply because they would need to be held mechanically on the tooth surface in order to withstand force from chewing and all the stresses that are going on in our mouths while we function.”
“However, as the years progressed over the past decade, an evolution took place in dentistry. Now the cosmetic standards of the dental materials have greatly improved. Also, with new and better bonding agents we can bond directly on the tooth, which allows the veneer to be glued to the surface of the tooth as opposed to relying on mechanical retention of the structure of the tooth. We can now cover anything aesthetically unpleasant on the surface of the tooth by just adding a perfect layer over the tooth structure.”
Dr Kamala concludes: “Veneers will make you look decades younger, and will recapture your youthful smile, while adding volume to your lips and face.”
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