SMILE, YOU’RE GORGEOUS!
A visit to your dentist might be just the thing to reverse the clock and take years off your face
How to perfect your pearly whites
Abeautiful smile doesn’t just project a friendly image, it can make you look more youthful too. But the older you get, the more your face changes, which can affect your smile. If you’re looking to slow down or even reverse the effects of ageing, your dentist may be able to help fix problems like an uneven gum line or discoloured teeth.
Here are eight common dental problems that can be easily resolved in the chair:
PROBLEM: Age-Related Discolouration, Gaps or Overcrowding
SOLUTION: VENEERS As you get older your tooth enamel may become thinner, leaving the yellowish dentine (the living tissue inside each tooth) more visible and resistant to whitening treatments. “Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells made of tooth-coloured plastic resin or porcelain designed to cover the front side of teeth to improve overall appearance,” says Dr Valerie Tey from the National Dental Centre of Singapore (NDCS).
For some people, their dental arch (the natural curve of your teeth) is narrow, leaving their side teeth less visible when they smile. Veneers can thus be used to create a wider smile. Porcelain veneers can last up to 25 years, provided you maintain regular dental care. You can also get veneers made from composite material that may be more affordable but won’t be as sturdy. Cost: From $650 per tooth. PROBLEM: Tooth Loss, Gappy Smile SOLUTION: IMPL ANTS OR DENTURES Over the years your teeth sustain a lot of wear and tear. Replacing broken teeth not only brightens your smile and improves your ability to chew, it can also help fill out your cheeks so they appear more youthful.
Implants are now the gold standard for tooth replacement for both cosmetic and mechanical reasons. Dental implants involve surgically embedding a titanium screw into the jawbone to support one or more porcelain crowns. They’re a more permanent alternative to dentures.
Dentures are still a good option if you have many missing teeth and new technology means they can be custom-made. “Bone volume and quality, tooth and jaw relationship and general health assessments are needed before recommendations can be made,” says Dr Tey. Cost: Price varies depending on the
complexity and number of teeth replaced, but expect to pay from $4,000 for an implant and overlying crown and from $160 for dentures.
PROBLEM: Stained Teeth SOLUTION: WHITENING TREATMENTS Food, coffee, red wine and nicotine can stain your teeth and make you look older than you really are. If your teeth are discoloured by surface stains, DIY whitening treatments can help but you’re better off seeing your dentist, who will prescribe a tailored whitening treatment without damaging your teeth or gums. The latest in-chair treatments can make your teeth eight shades whiter in 45 minutes. Cost: From $900 for in-chair whitening or from $500 for a take-home kit.
PROBLEM: Cracked Or Damaged Teeth, Large Fillings
SOLUTION: DENTAL CROWNS A crown is designed to fit over a cracked or damaged tooth in the same way a prosthetic tooth is fitted over an implant. Often made of porcelain or ceramic material, dental crowns are custom-made, colour matched and designed to last. You may be fitted with a temporary tooth while your permanent crown is built but waiting times are usually shorter if it’s made using 3D on-site. Crowns are a good way to strengthen cracked teeth and replace large fillings, even if a tooth is significantly damaged. Cost: From $500 per tooth, depending on the type of crown used. PROBLEM: Cracked or Broken Teeth SOLUTION: FILLING REPL ACEMENTS If you have a mouthful of old silver (amalgam) fillings, chances are you’ve had them a long time. Because they expand and contract over the long term, these fillings will cause microcracks in your teeth, making them prone to breakage. The results may not show until 10 to 15 years when a tooth breaks unexpectedly.
Your dentist can increase the life of your teeth by entirely replacing silver fillings with a bonded, more stable material the same colour as your natural teeth. Cost: From $55 for a composite restoration or from $190 for ceramic inlays and onlays. PROBLEM: Thin Lips, Fine Lines SOLUTION: ANTI-AGEING COSMETIC TREATMENTS Once your teeth are in good shape, anti-ageing treatments from a cosmetic dentist can help reverse other visible signs of ageing. Botox and dermal fillers can provide a more youthful frame for your smile and take years off your face. You’re more likely to get the result you’re looking for if you have these treatments done by a cosmetic dentist or aesthetic doctor, who is an expert in the shape and function of all facial structures. Botox is a muscle relaxant that can smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, while fillers can restore your lips to a more youthful shape.
This method of smile makeover works best from the inside out, so you should have any dental issues remedied first. Your teeth not only make you look good and help you chew properly, they also provide a scaffold for the soft tissue of your face. Missing teeth can cause your cheeks to sag, and no amount of injectable product will help until the gaps are fixed. Cost: From $300 for botox, depending on the area treated and volumes used. PROBLEM: Crooked Teeth, Overcrowding SOLUTION: ORTHODONTICS As you get older, changes to the shape of your face and mouth can lead to overcrowding and other abnormalities in your smile. Braces may be the answer, but visible, metal braces are not your only option. Invisalign is the clear alternative to braces. The clear aligners are effective, comfortable and virtually invisible. They’re also custom-fitted and removable, so they’re more hygienic than steel braces that can cause difficulties with brushing and flossing. “However, suitability for Invisalign depends on the complexity of your case,” notes Dr Tey. Cost: Varies depending on complexity of your treatment but expect to pay from $4,500 for Invisalign and from $3,900 for metal braces. PROBLEM: Lopsided Gums SOLUTION: L ASER TREATMENTS Your gums change as you get older but years of brushing twice a day can lead to toothbrush abrasion, leaving your gum line higher on one side of your mouth and throwing your smile off balance. While fixing this may once have meant invasive surgery, new laser technology provides a safe, suturefree solution to gum reshaping. “Laser healing is fast and allows patients to return to work the same day should they wish to,” says Dr Ronnie Yap, cosmetic dentist and director at Orchard Scotts Dental. Your dentist may also use laser therapy to perfect gum contours to fitting veneers. Cost: From $350 per tooth. W