Over the years, I’ve found that there are three things that prematurely age a smile – color, wear and mismatched dentistry. Regardless of the patients’ physical age, these traits can make them look much older than they are and create a smile that they are embarrassed to show.
The good news is that there are strategies to correct these issues. With proper care, patients can have a smile they are proud of and create true dental health where their teeth will actually outlive them. Below are a few simple strategies to correct an aging smile.
Over time, your teeth will naturally become darker. They pick up stains from dark-colored foods and drinks, such as coffee and wine. The best way to prevent this natural degradation of color is to have your teeth cleaned every four to six months before stains get deeper into the enamel.
Avoiding acidic food and drink is also important, as these can make your teeth more susceptible to staining. However, if you can’t quite quit your favorite wine or coffee, rinse your mouth after consumption and then wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth. Immediately brushing your teeth may erode enamel that has been softened by the acid.
Lastly, individuals should whiten their teeth every three to four months. There are several strategies for whitening teeth. The key is to follow the whitening protocol for 10-14 days and to avoid dark-colored food and drink during this time.
All teeth will undergo some wear and tear during a person’s lifetime. However, a patient could live to the age of 100 with normal tooth wear and never experience any pain, or notice a change in the look of their teeth.
The type of wear that ages your teeth is a parafunctional wear. This wear is accumulated outside of the normal range of function when your top and bottom jaw are in an abnormal position. This parafunctional wear can be the result of a nervous habit, a response to stress, or a comfortable place where patients “play” with their teeth.
Tooth wear can also be a result of tooth grinding, acid reflux or gastric esophageal reflux (GERD), or bad habits like biting your fingernails and chewing ice.
Strategies to prevent wear are largely dependent on the cause. For instance, if the patient is grinding his or her teeth at night, a bite guard may be the best solution. More severe wear can also be repaired with bonding or veneers.
Over time, patients can collect a lot of dental work done by different dentists and made of different materials. As a result, the mouth begins to look like a quilt of different colors, rather than a cohesive smile. The most common signs of this are yellowing bonding, corroded silver fillings and that ugly black line at the base of an old crown.
To correct this problem, I recommend developing a plan with the patient that will replace outdated dentistry and develop a more natural-looking smile. This can be done over time, or all at once. The benefit to doing it at the same time is that the procedure is less traumatic to the mouth and the patient will have a better result.
Whether you are 18 or 80, don’t let your teeth age you. A young, natural looking smile is within reach. Contact us today at (813) 698-4226 to find out how we can help you achieve a more youthful smile.