You can take years off your appearance through dental treatments such as veneers, laser contouring and even cosmetic injectables.
You know your dentist helps you keep your teeth healthy, but you might not realise they can also help you turn back the clock. Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you – and it’s also a key indicator of ageing. Fortunately, modern dentistry incorporates procedures that can reverse the signs of dental ageing and help you look considerably younger.1
Dentist Dr Greg Thomas from Bupa Dental Rochedale says dentists are often focused on dental health and may not be aware of what’s important to you in a wider sense. So if looking younger is a priority for you, he recommends asking your dentist how they can help freshen up your smile.
Here are some of the procedures that can help reinvigorate your appearance – and boost your self-confidence in the process.2
Gum reshaping (laser)
If you have excess gum covering your teeth, laser contouring can remove some of it to expose the natural length of your teeth.10 Not only does this improve the appearance of your teeth, it can be helpful if excessive gum is preventing you from cleaning your teeth effectively or increasing your risk of oral health problems. To find out what’s involved in gum reshaping, click here.
“If the tooth hasn’t what we call ‘fully erupted’ down through the gum, by reshaping the gum, you get the full length of the tooth coming through, so the teeth look younger,” says Dr Thomas. “That will improve your smile no end.”
Veneers and crowns
Just like the name suggests, veneers are covers fixed to the front of your teeth.3 They’re very thin and made of tooth-coloured porcelain or layers of glass and plastic. They’re great for covering teeth that are discoloured, stained, crooked, chipped, widely spaced or oddly shaped, leaving you looking younger. Porcelain veneers look more realistic and last up to 15 years. Glass and plastic composite veneers are more affordable but will need replacing sooner. More information on veneers is available here.
“Veneers can make teeth look straighter and give them really nice contours rather than sharp edges and jaggedness, and that in and of itself makes the face look fresher,” says Dr Thomas.
If you have teeth that are weak or broken, one way to enhance their appearance and strength is to get a crown, which will also protect them from future damage. They’re particularly useful if you’ve had a root canal or large filling.5 Crowns are often referred to as ‘caps’ because they act as a cap that is placed over a tooth and cemented into place, covering the visible portion of the tooth6 and restoring its normal shape and size. Usually, they’re made of porcelain or a combination of porcelain and metal.7 Find out more about crowns here.
“A veneer is like a half crown – more like a covering of the front – whereas a crown is a full covering over the tooth which can make it look fantastic but also really strong,” says Dr Thomas.
The sparkle of your smile will naturally diminish as you age. This is due to the enamel, the outer layer of the tooth, thinning and cracking over time, exposing more of the yellow-brown8 dentine underneath.9 The enamel can also become less pearly white as a result of exposure to foods and drinks, including coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco.
Teeth whitening can be done using an at-home kit or you can visit a kiosk or salon, but the safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth is to see your dentist, who is legally allowed to use a higher percentage of peroxide to give you a better result. Learn more about the ins and outs of teeth whitening – including the risks – here.
“Although they look hard, teeth have these little imperfections in them and the food colours can build into those areas – and as we get older, that build-up gets more and more,” says Dr Thomas. “Whitening essentially just reverses that process. The teeth become lighter in colour but they also become brighter.”
Here’s a little-known fact: many dentists in Australia provide anti-wrinkle injections. It’s a natural fit for dentists, given their extensive knowledge of facial muscles and anatomy, as well as injecting tools and techniques.
However, they must undergo further training and be registered to offer this service.
“The way I look at it is we work with the teeth and we want to create a nice smile, and the lips and the face frame those teeth,” says Dr Thomas.
Botox and dermal fillers are two options for dental patients wanting to look younger.
“Helping people look ‘fresher’ is the way I like to look at things,” explains Dr Thomas. “Say someone has ‘smoker’s lips’ – where they’ve got little pursing lines around the lips – a little Botox there just softens it. You can also do that on crow’s feet and the brow, so the face looks more in harmony with the teeth.
“As we get older the lips get thinner, and dermal fillers improve the borders of the lips and thicken them out a little bit in a way that’s natural – not making them stand out – can give a freshening effect.”
To read more about anti-wrinkle injections, click here.
1 The role of cosmetic dentistry in restoring a youthful appearance. [Online] 2019 Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
2 Cosmetic dentistry [Online] 2018 Available from: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
3 Whitening, Crowns and Veneers [Online] Available from: www.ada.org.au
4 Veneers [Online] 2018 Available from: www.healthdirect.gov.au
5 Crowns - Restoring Damaged Teeth [Online] Available from: www.cda-adc.ca
6 Dental Crowns [Online] Available from: my.clevelandclinic.org
7 Crowns [Online] Available from: www.mouthhealthy.org
8 The aging mouth - and how to keep it younger [Online] 2010 Available from: www.health.harvard.edu
9 Dentin [Online] 1998 Available from: www.britannica.com
10 Gummy Smile Correction with Diode Laser: Two Case Reports [Online] 2015 Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov