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First – how do your teeth change as you age?
“One of the first things you may notice is that your once-sparkling smile has lost its brightness. This is down to the yellowing of the dentine inside your teeth which can show through enamel, especially as enamel thin and cracks with age. Plus, enamel itself is easily stained by coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco. And while sturdy teeth are the stars of a healthy mouth, they can’t perform without a strong supporting cast – your gums and the soft tissue that line your oral cavity are also important. Periodontal disease – characterised by receding gums, wobbly teeth and the deterioration of the jawbone – is the primary culprit in tooth loss among older adults. Age isn’t always the primary cause, but it can often get worse and go undetected for decades, leading to problems later in life.
“Moreover, the wellbeing of your mouth is linked to the health of the rest of your body. There’s mounting evidence of a link between gum inflammation and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory problems. Scientists believe that bacteria from gum infections travel through the bloodstream and can trigger inflammation in organs and tissues.” – Dr Rhona Eskander, founder of Chelsea Dental Clinic
How can tweaking your teeth change your appearance?
“Improving the look of your teeth can knock years off your age. Whitening the teeth can make your smile instantly more youthful and healthier. The alignment of your teeth and their position can also be tweaked to look more balanced, symmetrical and proportional, which can make you look youthful and fresh-faced. Increasingly, women are seeking a more natural result that doesn’t look obviously done.” – Dr Krystyna Wilczynski, cosmetic dentist at White & Co
So, can improving your smile also improve your oral health?
“Absolutely. By alleviating any crowding, you are allowing the teeth to be placed into a more hygienic position. This makes it easier for you to clean them yourself, as well as for oral hygienist maintenance, therefore improving oral health. By improving teeth alignment and your bite, this can also reduce tooth wear and reduce the chances of chipping, thinning and breaking of the teeth.” – Krystyna
If your teeth are crooked, what are your best options for straightening?
“Orthodontic treatment is your best bet, and there are several different types of braces. Metal braces are most popular among children and adolescent patients although advances in innovation and technology have made metal braces smaller, more comfortable and more effective, so they are worth exploring. Ceramic braces, meanwhile, are discreet and less visible – they are made with clear, tooth-coloured material and work in the same way as metal braces. They are often more affordable than metal braces, although they can be slightly larger and can stain teeth depending on your diet and brushing habits. Lingual braces are worth exploring if you want to straighten your teeth with no visible signs of braces. Lingual braces are the most specialised orthodontic system on the market. They sit behind your teeth and are completely invisible and studies show they can be more effective, although they can cause minor changes to your speech (lisps are common) and irritation to the tongue. However, as they are so specialised, it can be tricky to find an orthodontist that offers them.” – Rhona
What about Invisalign?
“A growing trend is for invisible braces – aligners made from tough, clear plastic that are used to straighten teeth. Invisible braces were popularised by Invisalign in the early 2000s, which quickly became the most popular brand. In a way, they are what Kleenex is to facial tissues or BandAid to plasters. You receive several sets of specially moulded, slightly different aligners, worn for two weeks before being replaced with the next set. They should be worn for 22-23 hours a day for the best results. There are many benefits to clear aligners – they are clear and transparent to allow for easier brushing and flossing, can work faster than braces and require fewer trips to the dentist.” – Rhona
When it comes to whitening, are some treatments more effective than others?
“Yes – professional whitening (as opposed to whitening done at home) is the gold standard, as your dentist will be able to use a stronger dose. Over-the-counter whitening is much weaker (0.5-3% as opposed to 16% with a professional treatment) and the results won’t be as good. If you are considering whitening, always ensure whitening trays and gels have been provided by a dentist and not bought off the Internet, as your trays must be custom made. Your dentist will likely offer whitening that’s done partially with them, often paired with a laser, and then followed up at home using specifically made trays and gels.” – Krystyna
If you’re looking to completely transform your teeth, what do you recommend?
“Few other procedures have the potential to completely transform the look of a person’s smile like porcelain veneers. These are thin slices of custom-made porcelain that fit over the surface of your front teeth. They are a good way of treating teeth that are discoloured, to close gaps between front teeth or repairing chips and cracks. They are highly stain-resistant and, if looked after properly, can last for 20 years. The only downside to veneers is that they can be very costly and, as your teeth need to be filed down to make room for the veneers, the process is irreversible. Your dentist should always factor in plenty of planning and try-in sessions ahead of cementing your veneers.” – Krystyna
Are there any less invasive options?
“Cosmetic bonding is where a tooth-coloured resin is applied to the outer layer of the teeth and is a great option if you’re looking to improve the appearance of teeth that are thinning or cracking. It can also improve teeth length, volume and contour. It can be placed either on the edges (edge bonding) or on the front surface of the teeth in multiple layers (a composite veneer). Composite bonding can be used to close spaces, hide black triangles between teeth and correct minor misalignments, while edge bonding is only suitable if you have fairly straight teeth with a good colour, as bonding cannot be whitened, so you need to match the colour of the bonding to your teeth. If you decide to have bonding, it’s important to maintain the colour to prevent staining of the composite bonding. You should see the hygienist every six months and it will need to be replenished every 12-18 months to maintain a glossy shine, which can be done by the hygienist or at your regular dental check-ups.” – Stewart Beggs, biomimetic and cosmetic dentist at Chelsea Dental Clinic
If you don’t have the luxury of time, what are the best speedy and efficient treatments?
“If you need to repair chipped teeth, composite bonding can be completed in just one appointment. If you’re looking for a brighter smile, book in for a deep clean and polish with your hygienist, which will instantly refresh your smile. Also consider booking in for Zoom whitening and at-home bleaching, which takes around two to three weeks.” – Krystyna
Finally – what are some of best oral care brands to know?
“A fluoride mouthwash – such as Colgate Fluorigard – is a fantastic product that can help rebuild enamel strength. Nano Whitewash is also a great brand to know for whitening strips and toothpastes. An Oral B electric toothbrush is also vital to keep the teeth clean.” – Krystyna
To find a reputable cosmetic dentist, always make sure your dentist is registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). For more specialist treatment, look for dentists with specialist qualifications in restorative dentistry. Visit the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry to find your nearest registered cosmetic dentist. For more information visit DrKrystyna.com, WhiteAndCoDental.co.uk and ChelseaDentalClinic.co.uk
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.
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