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Is Your Smile Aging You?-Part I Short Worn Teeth

Posted Sep 12 2008 10:22am

Age Change #1—Shorter Front Teeth

Why —Teeth wear down with use. By the time a person reaches their fifties, it is common for the front teeth to be as much as two millimeters shorter than they were in their twenties. If you are under stress and clench or grind (dental bruxism ), the wear could be significantly greater.

How it ages you —Ever hear the saying “you can tell the age of a horse by its teeth”—well, that’s how it is done. Over time a person’s smile can almost appear to be “toothless!” Moreover, as the teeth shorten they can cause your lips to sag inward, creating a thin, tight-looking smile—instead of the fuller, softer look you have when you’re younger.

How to fix it —There they are several options. The teeth can be cosmetically lengthened with bonding, porcelain veneers, cosmetic porcelain crowns or with advanced laser “gum lifts.”

1) Bonding—Bonding uses a tooth color filling to change tooth shape or length of tooth. Bonding is one of the less expensive options and typically lasts 5 to 10 years. Note: since usually only a portion of the tooth is bonded, the filling and adjacent tooth structure may change colors at different rates.

2) Porcelain veneers—Porcelain veneers are similar to “adding a new front surface” to the tooth. They are typically 0.2-0.5 mm thick—about the thickness of a fingernail. In some instances only a very minimal amount of tooth alteration (sometimes even none!) is required with the patented Lumineer veneers. In cases where there is a significant color change required, severe crowding or misalignment are present, or a change in length is required, Empress veneers are the choice. Veneers are more costly (typically $1000 to $1400 per tooth), but are very esthetic and may as long as 20 to 30 years without significant changes in their esthetics.

3) Cosmetic porcelain crowns—These are used in a similar fashion to porcelain veneers. They are used if even larger changes are required or if there is a significant amount of decay or previous filling present. These are not the old fashioned crowns you may have seen in the past. Advanced materials can be used to make these nearly invisible with no gum line discoloration.

4) Cosmetic laser gum lifts—Short teeth can often leave the smile looking “gummy” when a person smiles. New laser technology can remove small amounts of excess gum tissue in a manner that is clean and nearly painless. This advanced technique can be used to easily help alleviate discrepancies in the proper width to height proportion and also to achieve a “golden proportion” harmony between the teeth in the arch. An additional consideration is that the gums form the “picture framework” around the smiling teeth, and discrepancies in their height is unsightly.

What it is like—the benefits —Depending on the severity, degree of change desired, and budget of the person, the teeth can be restored to a more youthful state. The color and length can be re-established to their original, or better, condition.

See our photo gallery for more information on veneers, cosmetics, and gum lifts

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