A visit to your den­tist might be just the thing to re­verse the clock and take years off your face

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - STYLE SETTER -

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

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