Town Crier – Feature 2- Can your Smile Turn Back the Clock?

Can Your Smile Turn Back the Clock?

The American population is getting older and their smiles are changing as the years unfold. Between 1990 and 2020, the segment of the U.S. Population aged 65 to 74 years is predicted to grow at least 74 percent. Because of the “never grow old” cultural stance of the huge number of aging “Boomers,” the aesthetic advantages of a younger-looking smile have taken on new significance in western perceptions of quality of life.

What are the signs of an aging smile and how can cosmetic dentistry reverse the signs of dental aging?As we age, our appearance changes in predictable ways, which include specific and identifiable characteristics associated with an aging dentition. These esthetic manifestations of anterior (front tooth) aging fall into three basic categories – wear, size/position and color.

Wear is evidenced as erosion, attrition (shortening due to biting forces over time), abrasion and abfraction (loss of tooth structure from the cheek side of the tooth where the crowns and roots meet at the gumline – sometimes misdiagnosed as toothbrush abrasion). Abrasion results from contact of one tooth against another through the millions of repetitive movements of the mouth over a lifetime. A youthful smile is distinguished by central incisors, which are noticeable longer than the lateral incisors adjacent to them. This gives the central incisors distinct rectangular shape, as opposed to a more nearly square shape often associated with older smiles. In addition, the incisal (biting) edges form a line, which follows the curve of the lower lip in young smiles, while this line tends to appear flatter as the smile ages. As the original youthful length of the teeth diminishes, lip support is lost, and the distance between the cheekbone and mandible (lower jaw) becomes shorter. The resulting facial soft tissue changes away from the mouth, including the area around the eyes, creating the appearance of a collapsed bite and the sagging skin associated with old age. A knowledgeable cosmetic dentist can often mitigate and so often this effect through restoration of the proper vertical dimension to the teeth.

Most people recognize that tooth color changes over time with darker teeth being associated with older age. Pigments and ions are absorbed into the teeth from foods, drinks and smoking, while the dental pulp shrinks, leaving darker secondary dentin (the layer of tooth structure below the outer enamel). Cosmetic dentists can often dramatically reverse this darkening and discoloration in otherwise healthy dentitions through bleaching. When more is needed, patients can achieve their goals through treatments such as porcelain or bonded veneers, or aesthetically designed full-coverage crowns.

Dentistry has gone a long way toward eradicating dental disease and protecting dental and overall health. Now, more and more patients are turning to advanced-trained aesthetic dentists and new techniques to enhance their quality of life by restoring a youthful, beautiful smile.

For more on dental issues, visit my web site, Visit the Sadati Center for Aesthetic Dentistry at 10140 W. Forest Hill Blvd, Suite 140, in Wellington or call (561) 753-8484.