Anti-aging has extended well past the wrinkles on our face to tackling crepey skin, sagging knees and beyond. One of the things that could sneakily give away our age is our smile, and we’re not just talking about smile lines. Your smile itself could show signs of aging, but there’s often an easy fix.
Teeth discoloration can be aging your smile
“As we age, the years can show in the color,” says New York cosmetic dentist Husam Almunajed, DMD. Even if you do your best to keep them pearly white, brushing rigorously and flossing, the darkness comes for us as all because “as we age, our teeth naturally get darker in color,” says Chicago cosmetic dentist Nathan Hoffman, DDS.
This darkening is “due to gradual accumulation of stains on the enamel from daily activities like eating and drinking,” explains Dr. Hoffman. “Additionally, the dentin (internal tooth surface beneath the enamel) tends to get thicker as we age, making the appearance of teeth more yellow.”
The wearing away of teeth can make your smile appear older
“Over time, we all experience the wearing down of our teeth. Teeth support the lower third of your face. Grinding, clenching and iatrogenic dentistry are all causes of the collapse of our bite,” says Dr. Almunajed. “With the collapse of the hard tissue (teeth) comes the collapse of the soft tissue (lips, cheeks, corners of the mouth).“ To solve dental issues caused by things like worn teeth, jaw pain and tension headaches, in addition to cosmetic concerns, the bite needs to be restored by a dentist.
A receding gum line and a shift in teeth can contribute to an aging smile
“Things like tooth wear, receding gum lines and shifting teeth are all things that happen gradually to our teeth as we age,” says Dr. Hoffman. In some patients, this can translate to a smile that makes a young person appear older than they are. Luckily, these concerns can be remedied by a dentist.
How to anti-age your smile
Dr. Hoffman says it’s no surprise that the features discussed above, when on the smile of a younger adult, can age someone significantly, but they don’t have to. While most of the solutions here are in the dentist’s hands, the foundation begins with you. “To restore youth back into a smile, it’s important to first keep your mouth in top oral health,” says Dr. Hoffman. “Maintaining proper at-home hygiene and seeing a dentist regularly will help keep your teeth healthy and allow you to make aesthetic adjustments to your teeth with optimal results.”
The simplest treatments to reverse the clock on a smile are in-office whitenings and Invisalign, says Dr. Hoffman. These options can address discoloration and any misalignment or shifting without dipping into more intense treatments.
“If teeth exceed minor tweaks to appear in their prime, then the best course of treatment is to get veneers,” says Dr. Hoffman. The treatment is still considered non-invasive but allows for a total redesign of your smile, including shape, color and alignment, he explains. Veneers allow dentists to address aging concerns while restoring “health, function and beauty back to a smile. The outcome is more a rejuvenation of someone’s face versus having a pretty smile,” says Dr. Almunajed. In addition to veneers, Dr. Almunajed says onlays and inlays can be used to reconstruct the foundation of the bite and achieve the desired look.
Dr. Hoffman says, “For individuals beyond the point of restoring their teeth with less invasive treatments, more advanced smile restoration is possible with a full mouth rehabilitation.” He explains that “this is just as it sounds, and involves a combination of treatments to most of the teeth, to properly restore the teeth functionally and aesthetically.”