Life

Ask The Dentist: How old is your smile?

If your teeth have suffered the ravages of time, Lucy Stock at Gental Dental Care in Belfast has a few suggestions on how to turn back the clock on smiles that have lost their lustre over the years

A whiter, brighter smile can make you look at least five years younger.

LOOKING young and youthful is often about personality and attitude. Increasing your self-esteem can positively affect your personality and make you behave and appear more young at heart.

However sometimes self confidence requires a kick start by naturally enhancing what you were born with. If your teeth have suffered the ravages of time then here are some suggestions to turn the clock back and boost self esteem.

A study by Oral B found that a whiter, brighter smile can make you look at least five years younger. Tooth enamel thins as you age, making your teeth appear more yellow.

Bleaching when appropriate is a safe straightforward treatment. It is strongly recommended to seek whitening treatments from a dental practice and not an illegal unlicensed non-dental trader.

''She was lean, and yellow, and long in the tooth; all the red and white in all the toy shops of London could not make a beauty of her" – a quote from Thakeray's The History of Henry Esmond, Esq in 1852.

Not the most flattering of descriptions for any woman!

The phrase 'long in the tooth' comes from the age-old practice of checking a horse's age by looking at the length of their teeth.

Receding gums meant an older animal and its no different for the human animal. If the teeth look long when you smile due to gum recession, this will give you an aged look.

In one study of nearly 10,000 people, only 38 per cent of participants in their 30s had some recession, while 90 per cent of those in their 80s had it.

Luckily, there are treatments to fix receded gums and cover the root surfaces of teeth.

Surgical treatments like gum grafting root coverage procedures can restore teeth to their more youthful proportions.

Old-looking teeth have wear and tear whereas teeth with normal edges and the full enamel showing are synonymous with youth and health.

You won't notice the abuse from grinding or erosive wear in your 20s and 30s, but in your 40s and beyond it'll begin to show.

As we age, teeth thin, chip and shorten and the teeth edges end up looking straight across, having lost their natural undulation that most 18-year-olds display.

There are many treatment options to fix worn teeth – but sometimes by simply bonding on white filling material to replace missing enamel, a smile can be rejuvenated.

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