(Spoken to Harley Street Emporium’ s Heather Stephen).

 

 

You might freshen up with a touch of Botox or fillers but what about your teeth?  The old saying ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’- exists for a reason – your teeth and gums reveal a lot about your age and overall health. But taking care of your smile can be an effective path to a more youthful look.


1. Brighten your smile

As we get older our teeth can discolour from years of drinking tea and red wine and, as studies have shown that whiter teeth make you look five years younger, it’s hardly surprising that 75 per cent of people have asked their dentist about whitening, according to an often quoted Oral B study.

There are home kits which claim to whiten teeth but cosmetic dental surgeon Nina Bal brands them “a waste of money” and potentially dangerous.

“Whitening kits sold over the counter don’t include bespoke dental trays so you could risk burning your gums,” she says. “And they have such a low concentration of peroxide they just don’t work.”

Dr Bal, founder of FacialSculpting in Marylebone, says visiting your dentist is the only effective way to whiten your teeth.

“After making impressions of the teeth I give them a professional clean and normally give clients a home whitening system to use – although if the teeth are very dark laser whitening can be done in the surgery as well.”

 

Don’t do it if:

  • You have gingivitis (inflamed gums) as the peroxide could aggravate it
  • You have lots of crowns which will be a different colour to your whitened teeth
  • Your teeth are discoloured from taking antibiotics as a child
  • There is lots of decay as you could be more prone to sensitivity
  • Your gums have receded as the procedure is more likely to be painful

 

How much is it usually?

Between £300 to £550, although laser whitening will increase the cost.

 

2. Mind the gap

If you are unlucky enough to lose one or more of your teeth the loss of bone could cause your face to sag giving you that old lady sunken look. A generation ago it was common for dentists to recommend dentures for patients with extensive dental problems but Dr Hughes says thankfully dentistry has moved on.

“These days far more techniques are available such as root canals and crowns and if the tooth can’t be saved implants can give you back your smile.”

Although dental implants aren’t cheap they are said to actually reactivate bone growth,  although some patients may need a bone graft which will bump up the cost even more.

Don’t do it when

You have periodontal disease (gum disease) as bone loss could affect treatment success

How much is it?

Prices vary but on average expect to pay £900 to £1800 a tooth

 

3. Straighten up your act

“The position of the teeth changes throughout our lives and, even if you’ve always had straight teeth, you may find when you get to 40 your teeth have moved and become crowded,” says Dr Bal.

“This can cause the face to collapse and wrinkle but widening the arch of the mouth with a brace can plump up the face as well as straighten your smile.”

Dr Bal often suggests a fixed wire at the back of the mouth to realign teeth which she says is very discrete and can’t be seen.

And also recommends the Invisalign system and the new Six Month Smiles treatment, which are both clear and very effective.

 

Don’t do it when:

You have gum disease as the braces could trigger even more bone loss.

 

How much is it?

Lingual braces (fitted at the back): £3,000 to £14,000

Invisalign: £2,500 to £4,500

Six Month Smiles: £1,800 to £3,000

 

 

  1. Go longer to look younger

We may get long in the tooth as our gums recede but our teeth also shorten with age due to natural wear and this can be exacerbated by acid erosion, a deep bite and grinding says Dr Hughes.

A study by the University of California’s School of Dentistry found that people under 29 show an average of more than 3 milimetres of their upper teeth when their lips are gently parted compared to less than half a millimetre in their 50s.

This used to be corrected with veneers but ‘bonding’ is the latest way to lengthen your teeth.

“Veneers are very invasive and involve filing healthy enamel. So dentists now prefer bonding where the teeth are coated with a resin material which can be matched to the right shade of your teeth,” says Dr Bal.

“This can be a shortcut to straightening although I tell patients there is always the risk the bonded tooth could chip and pigmentation could develop.”

 

Don’t do it when

You have gum disease as the bonding won’t attach.

 

How much is it?

£80 to £350 per tooth

 

  1. Fix that gummy smile

The ‘gummy smile’ where excessive tissue is seen on the top gums is an ageing look where your teeth appear shorter than normal.

Once your only option would have been surgery but Dr Hughes says you can opt for less invasive treatment such as laser gum reshaping, braces or Botox.

“There are many reasons for a gummy smile,” he says. “Botox can be useful when the lips lift too high and lasers can reshape prominent gums but if the reason is an over large jaw bone you will need to see a maxillofacial surgeon.”

 

Don’t do it when

“It is vital that the mouth is healthy before having any complex dentistry so we always ensure the patient is dentally “fit” beforehand,” says Dr Hughes.

How much is it?

Laser treatment – £600

Botox – £300 to £400

Braces – £3000 to £9000

Surgery – £1500 to £2500

 

And finally…

Dr Bal says investing in your teeth can make a significant difference you your look and self confidence.

“We often focus on our hair and clothes but if you don’t have healthy teeth you are never going to look as young as you would like so it is well worth investing in your smile.”

This article first appeared and was originally  published on Harley Street Emporium. 

It has been edited by Dr Bal/Facialsculpting.