Did you know that your teeth can make you look older than you really are? There are certain characteristics of a smile that suggest one is further along in the aging process. We will discuss those characteristics here and offer suggestions of how you can combat them.
The Aging of a Smile
The aging process affects the teeth no less than the entire body. The specific things that happen inside the teeth, around the teeth, and to the teeth cause changes to their appearance. These changes have become associated with an “older” appearance.
Old Teeth are Yellow
The aging process that causes teeth to look more yellow over time occurs inside the teeth. The only portion of a tooth that is white in color is enamel. It also happens to be relatively translucent, so it shows through what is underneath. As humans age, the structure just beneath the enamel (called the dentin) gets thicker and more opaque. Dentin is naturally yellow in color, so as it thickens, it shows through the enamel and makes the teeth appear darker.
Old Teeth are Crowded
Did you know that teeth are in constant motion? During normal function, the teeth have friction on the sides where they touch neighboring teeth. This friction flattens the sides of teeth, opening tiny gaps that quickly close with the movement of teeth. This leads to a natural forward motion of all the teeth in the mouth, and that forward motion pushes the front teeth together. Crooked teeth, on the lower front teeth especially, look old.
Old Teeth are Shortened
As we age, we subject our teeth to years of wear and tear. Some people experience more of this than others do (i.e. those who clench or grind their teeth at night), and it is a general rule of thumb that the teeth become shorter over time. The outermost layer of enamel wears away through the processes of erosion and attrition. On the front teeth, this makes the teeth look short, flat, and very square. And that is an “old” look.
How to Fight the Aging Process of Your Smile
You can either prevent these aging problems in the teeth or correct them after they happen. (Preventing is always less expensive and less invasive!)
Preventing Aging Teeth Problems
You can avoid the yellowing, crowding, and shortening processes of aging in several ways. The yellowing process is natural, but we also aggravate and accelerate it by certain habits. Limit your intake of coffee, tea, red wine, dark sodas, and tobacco to prevent increased staining of the teeth. You can stop the crowding process by wearing an orthodontic retainer. A retainer holds the teeth in their current position, preventing any movement in any direction. Also you can protect your teeth from shortening in a couple of different ways. Protecting against nighttime grinding is simple with wearing a professional nightguard. You can prevent erosion by avoiding acidic foods and drinks or treating any GI problems that involve acid reflux.
Correcting Aging Teeth Problems
If you feel that your teeth could be making you look older than you really are (or older than you want to appear), talk to one of our doctors about your treatment options. Teeth whitening is a simple and conservative way to brighten the teeth and improve the smile. Whitening always makes people appear younger.
We can correct crowding with orthodontic treatment like Invisalign. After you align the teeth, you can hold them in place by wearing retainers. For those whose teeth have already suffered damage from grinding or erosion, we can rebuild them with restorative dental materials, such as tooth-colored composite bonding or porcelain veneers! It’s important to understand that you must protect any restorative dental work by wearing a nightguard consistently.
More Questions about Aging Teeth?
Call 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer. They can assess your current smile and give you suggestions for treatments or preventive options to keep your smile looking as young as you are!