We are all aware of the many changes our bodies and faces go through as we age. We notice facial lines and wrinkles, blemishes and loss of tone. The smiles ages with time too, thought not all the changes are readily apparent. So, what are those changes and to what extent can they be reversed?
1. Your Teeth Start Getting Darker
In my New York City dental practice, I notice that my clients’ teeth start getting darker with age. Though tooth enamel is hard, wear and micro-cracks allow stains to be absorbed into teeth. Whitening is very effective for reversing this color change. It can be done in the dental office or at home. There are many over-the-counter products available in drug stores that work well and are less expensive than professional whitening.
Their disadvantage is that they take more applications and can be tricky to apply. Dentists use more concentrated, light activated products in their office which yield the fastest results, yet they are more expensive. Surveys show that most dentists prefer to have the patients apply a whitening gel in custom made trays for 30–60 minutes a day for about two weeks. This gives the patient a lot of control over the final result.
2. Your Teeth Start Shifting
For many people, teeth begin to shift with age. Besides being unaesthetic, the shifting also leads to uneven wear, chipping, and increased staining.
Teeth can easily be straightened at any age. This can be accomplished with clear, removable retainers. Invisalign is the most popular system. Depending on the amount of movement needed, the teeth can be straightened in as little as 10 weeks!
3. Your Teeth Start to Wear and Crack
Front teeth are called incisors because they cut through food such as salads and sandwiches. Every time the teeth meet, there is a microscopic amount of wear that accumulates over time.
Often the wear is uneven, causing the smile line to distort and the edges to get thin and translucent. The stress also causes microscopic cracks in the teeth.
The best way of replacing worn, chipped enamel is with porcelain, usually as a veneer or crown. The porcelain is visually aesthetic, strong and can last for many years. It is a great way of restoring lost tooth structure and can take years off your smile.
4. Your Gums Start to Recede
Almost everyone experiences some gum recession over time. It is important to determine that this is not from gum disease. Unfortunately, even slight recession, can expose dark root structure.
Another consequence is what appears to be a “dark triangle” at the gum line between teeth. This is actually empty space where there was once bone and gum. There are surgical procedures to move the gum back but they are often not 100 percent effective. Porcelain veneers or crowns can cover the dark roots but do not replace the missing gum.
If you are concerned that your smile does not project the appearance you want, have your dentist evaluate your specific issues. While not every sign of aging can be reversed, it is often possible to take years off your smile!
Andrew Koenigsberg, DDS, founded Gallery57Dental in 2006, where he currently practices and is passionate about providing people with the best dental care possible. He is also the co-founder of CAD/CAM Excellence, a continuing education center, where he is clinical director.