Brush 10 to 20 years of aging off of your smile

We all want to look younger. Are you wondering why there is a discrepancy between the way you feel and the way you look? I want you to know that you are not alone and that there are options for you to restore the age balance in your smile.

Accentuated fine lines and wrinkles, worn, dark, chipped front teeth, shortening of the nose to chin ratio due to tooth attrition, and even severe health issues can be associated with our aging appearance.

Teeth are constantly exposed to considerable forces under normal function. Just like the tires on a car, with time, the “profile” of the teeth get flatter and smaller. When the back teeth get smaller, the front teeth will guide the lower jaw backwards and upwards. In severe cases, back teeth will break beyond repair which leads to complete loss of posterior support. There are some intra-oral changes and some facial changes that are intimately correlated with the perceived aging of the individual.

Smaller, darker, rugged, fractured anterior teeth can be a sign of lack of posterior support. While the back, load bearing teeth get smaller, more force is transferred to anterior teeth. That excessive force will cause premature breakage. This aesthetic change will prompt the patient to seek cosmetic dental treatment. Bonding or veneers, although improving the cosmetic issue, will not last a very long time since the actual cause was not fixed.

The smaller lower third of the face is an obvious facial aesthetic change with loss of posterior tooth support. The once nice and oval shape of the face is now more square in shape. The distance between the chin and the nose decreases, the cheeks appear to be sagging, marionette lines and the mental crease become more pronounced as the lips appear “squished” together. Botox and filler will produce amazing, almost instant results, as I regularly see on the patients treated at Synergy Medical Aesthetics. But the ultimate effect will not be obtained until the height of the face is restored.

Smaller back teeth resulting in an upper and backwards displacement of the lower jaw will drastically decrease the volume available for the tongue. The tongue gets pushed back and will encroach on the breathing space. The patient will start snoring at night and some will develop sleep apnea. The lack of proper blood oxygenation and sleep quality have been associated with decreased skin quality, increased pigmentation around the eyes, and overall appearance of lack of energy.

So, what can a dentist do to improve all these aging features? Simple: regain the loss of vertical dimension of the teeth and reposition the lower jaw in the most physiologic position where facial muscles are the most relaxed, rebuilding the teeth to the proper size, shape and shade, and whenever indicated, fitting a dental sleep appliance.

Finding that “happy” muscle position is crucial and the dentist will use a temporary dental orthotic to assess the improvement of the signs and symptoms. From this point the patients will have a few options to decide from: wearing a long term dental orthotic, a dental sleep appliance, in some cases orthodontically repositioning the teeth, or rebuilding their teeth to the original, youthful parameters using ceramic restorations.

It is incredible how regaining the proper size of the teeth can positively affect us in so many ways. The face will be longer, proportions re-established, front teeth can be restored to proper aesthetics - resulting in a healthier, more youthful appearance.

If you wonder if any of this is applicable to you, have a consultation with our dentist. It is a simple and easy visit that might change your life.

Dr Octavian Tetelbaum is a general dentist with comprehensive training in dental restorative, cosmetic, and orthodontics working within Synergy Centre at Hyde Park and Gainsborough, and can be reached at: 519-266-3646.