Have you seen photographs of yourself and wondered who that old person was? Is the lower third of your face starting to wrinkle, sag or form jowls? If so, you may think your only option for restoring your youthful appearance is invasive cosmetic surgery. Before you book that consultation with a plastic surgeon, you may want to stop by your dentist’s office first. It may sound crazy, but your sunken, aged face could be caused by your teeth.
The Effects of Tooth Wear
Teeth naturally wear down with age, and this shortening of the teeth makes your upper and lower jaws move closer together when at rest. As a result, your nose and chin are closer together as well, which compresses your lower face. When this happens, your lips and cheeks may look collapsed, and wrinkles will form around your mouth. If you also have bruxism, your teeth will wear even faster than they do during the normal aging process. This condition is characterized by teeth grinding, often at night, and can make you look old before your time. Worn or damaged teeth not only affect your appearance, but they also contribute to an improper bite. Teeth that do not meet properly when you bite make eating difficult, and they also lead to more episodes of unconscious teeth grinding, creating a vicious cycle of improper oral functioning and bruxism.
Non-Surgical Facelift and Smile Rejuvenation
In cases of worn teeth, a few simple dental procedures can make you look as if you’ve had a facelift. By restoring the length of your teeth and ensuring that they are properly aligned when you bite and chew, the collapsed appearance of your lower face will disappear.
Not only will your lips and cheeks appear fuller and more youthful with the right support, but your bite will also feel more comfortable and function optimally.
Treatments to Rejuvenate Your Smile
To perform a smile rejuvenation, your dentist will first determine if you have bruxism or the related condition TMJ disorder, which affects jaw joint functioning and can contribute to a misaligned bite. If so, treatments for these conditions will likely include the use of a night guard or occlusal splint to hold the jaw in the proper position and protect the teeth from the forces of clenching and grinding. To rebuild the structure of teeth that are damaged due to aging or bruxism, your dentist will place either porcelain veneers or crowns on your teeth. Veneers are thin porcelain laminates placed on the front teeth and can transform their length, shape and color. Crowns, which can be constructed from a variety of materials, such as white porcelain that matches surrounding teeth, cover the entire tooth and are most often used on molars. Sometimes teeth are so worn that they experience severe decay and cannot be saved. In such cases, your dentist will extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant, which consists of an artificial tooth root topped off with a natural-looking porcelain restoration. Whatever treatments are used, your smile rejuvenation will not only improve the appearance of your facial structure but also turn back the clock by giving you white, youthful-looking teeth.
Lengthening teeth used to be a very invasive and destructive procedure, as the teeth had to be cut to have crowns made. Modern adhesive dentistry techniques thankfully mean that this can be done with minimal cutting of teeth and sometimes none at all. However, similar results on the face can be achieved by manipulating what we call the “freeway space”. The freeway space is the space between the upper and lower teeth when our lips are together and the face is at rest. This space is usually 1-3mm. When the teeth become worn down, this space remains the same, which in turn means that the patient’s lower facial height ie the distance between the tip of the nose and the chin, becomes shorter. This loss of lower facial height can result in signs of premature facial ageing. By deprogramming and relaxing the facial muscles, we can train these muscles to create a much larger freeway space, thus restoring the face to its more youthful shape. This is a non invasive and much less expensive approach to delaying and addressing the signs of facial ageing and achieving smile rejuvenation.
– Dr. N. Mohindra