The ageing process is something that most men and women want to slow down. A healthy white smile portrays happiness, well-being and youthfulness. Additionally, people who smile more are perceived as being younger.
With your smile being one of the first things that people notice when meeting you, it’s important to care for your lips, teeth and gums to ensure a good first impression. Here are 5 signs of an ageing smile along with tips for treatment and prevention.
1. Yellow teeth. Teeth discolour naturally over time due to age, lifestyle habits, red wine, coffee, tea and cigarettes.
How to treat yellow teeth: The two main ways to treat yellow teeth and improve their colour is to get either as professional teeth cleaning by a dental hygienist or professional teeth whitening. With whitening, you can use either at-home whitening trays or in-surgery professional whitening through Philips Zoom! or Enlighten. Both are effective, safe and get long lasting results. It’s important to know that trained and registered dental professionals are the only ones who can legally provide teeth whitening services. Take care with so-called whitening toothpastes as they contain no active whitening ingredients. They usually contain abrasive particles that aim to remove surface stains, but with prolonged use can scratch and damage enamel, making it appear more yellow and susceptible to staining.
How to prevent teeth from yellowing: For optimal prevention, reduce your consumption of foods and drinks that cause staining, such as coffee, tea and red wine. You should also quit smoking and be sure to visit the hygienist regularly. Look for a hygienist that is a provider of ‘Guided Biofilm Therapy’ (GBT). GBT is a system that uses AirFlow technology to remove all bacteria (biofilm) in the mouth that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, while reducing your time in the hygienist chair from 20 to just 7 minutes. This type of cleaning will help to maintain the colour of your teeth, removing surface stains.
2. Missing teeth. Missing teeth is typically caused by tooth decay and gum disease. Tooth decay is primarily caused by poor food and beverage choices – particularly those with high levels of sugar such as fizzy drinks. When food items containing high levels of sugar are consumed, bacteria in the mouth thrive. The bacteria then cling to the teeth, creating a chemical reaction that eats away at the enamel (the hard outer, protective layer of the teeth). When enamel erodes, teeth become susceptible to damage and decay.
Gum disease can also contribute to tooth extraction. Gum disease is caused by plaque – the white sticky film that forms in all our mouths. It is also filled with bacteria; when plaque is left behind after a period of time, it starts to irritate the gums and cause inflammation and that how the bleeding starts. Toxins produced by the bacteria in the plaque start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.
How to treat missing teeth: Dental implants is the only way to treat missing teeth.
How to prevent tooth removal: Teeth are typically removed when they are damaged beyond repair by tooth decay and gum disease. To prevent tooth decay and gum disease, reduce your sugar/acid intake to no more than 3 to 4 times a day and try and keep them to mealtimes only. Attend regular hygiene appointments every 3 to 6 months. Ensure good home oral hygiene by brushing twice a day with an electric toothbrush and cleaning in-between the teeth daily with floss and/or interdental brushes. Quit smoking as this reduces the blood supply to the gums and makes gum disease worse while delaying healing following any gum treatment. Maintain routine dental checkups to ensure early detection of gum disease and decay, as both are entirely preventable and often painless or symptomless in their earlier stages.
3. Worn teeth. Worn teeth are typically yellow, flat, chipped and/or see-through. It is typically caused by tooth grinding, acid erosion and overzealous tooth brushing.
How to treat worn teeth: Composite bonding, veneers and/or white fillings.
How to prevent teeth from wearing: Wear a mouth guard at night to protect the teeth when clenching or grinding. Drink all acidic and carbonated beverages through a straw and ensure not to “swill” it around or hold in your mouth. Brush your teeth before eating breakfast and don’t brush in the hour after eating or drinking anything acidic. At this time, the enamel is softened and can become more easily worn if brushed. Use an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor to prevent over-brushing. Overbrushing, especially with a manual toothbrush, can cause permanent and irreversible damage to the gums, known as recession. Brush for two minutes, twice per day using a Fluoride toothpaste such as Regenerate Enamel Science, which can help to reverse the early signs of enamel erosion.
4. Thin lips. Over time, the volume of the lips decrease due to a reduction in collagen production.
How to treat thin lips: Lip fillers
How to prevent lips from thinning: Stay hydrated by drinking the recommended amount of two litres of water per day. Always use a SPF moisturiser/lip balm to protect the lips from sun damage. Quit smoking to help reduce wrinkle formation around the lips known as smokers’ lines.
5. Crooked teeth. Over time teeth can move, causing overcrowding. Even if you’ve had orthodontic treatments previously, they can relapse. The teeth can naturally drift forward, which can be worsened if and when wisdom teeth decide to erupt, or if you have gum disease.
How to treat crooked teeth: Orthodontic braces, such as the discrete, clear aligner system ‘Invisalign’, can straighten teeth in as little as 6 months. The trays are see-through and you wear them for up to 23 hours a day and change them every 7 to 14 days, only removing them to eat and drink. Straight teeth also help to improve your oral hygiene as teeth are easier to clean, which can reduce your risk of gum disease.
How to prevent crooked teeth: If you have had orthodontics in the past, be sure to wear a retainer; either fixed wires to the back of your teeth or removable ones are available from your dentist.