Body & Fitness

How to get straighter, younger looking teeth

A dazzling smile can make a huge difference to how you look – and improve your wellbeing!

Naturally, as we get older, we expect that our teeth will start to deteriorate, but beyond the coffee stains, the broken fillings, and general wear and tear, there are several other factors that can contribute to our smile making us look older than our years.

What happens to our teeth

“Over time, it’s common for teeth to become crooked, even if you had braces when you were in your teens,” says Dr Ross Anning of Auckland City Orthodontics. This can make it more difficult to keep your teeth clean which, in turn, affects the health of your teeth and gums.

Interestingly, the term “long in the tooth” is a very accurate way of describing old age too. “Gum recession can occur, causing teeth to appear longer and in some instances, they can become more sensitive,” adds Dr Anning.

Even the way our teeth bite together can alter

Dr Anning explains that “bite changes [the way the upper and lower jaw bite together] can increase the potential for tooth wear and in more severe cases gum damage”.

The ageing effect

Our teeth help to support the framework of our face. Changes in our bite, for example, can shrink the height of our face. “Think of the way someone looks without their dentures,

but in a less pronounced way,” says Dr Anning.

You may think braces are for teens, but this is no longer the case. There are now options like Incognito Hidden Braces, which you can’t see from the front, and Invisalign that are also virtually invisible.

Crowding is another issue “When teeth become crooked and cross over each other due to a lack of space in the jaw and/or natural movement of the teeth over time, it can decrease the support of the soft tissues surrounding the mouth and cause lines around the mouth to appear more prominent,” tells Dr Anning.

Even the angle of our teeth can make a difference. “If the back teeth start leaning inwards, the smile will appear more narrow, creating dark corridors down the side of the smile.”

What can be done

Dr Anning recommends keeping up with regular visits to your general dentist to ensure the ongoing health of your teeth and gums as you age. Another option is to visit a specialist orthodontist to find out about straightening your teeth to achieve a broader, younger-looking smile. “Straightening crooked teeth can not only improve the aesthetics and function of the teeth, but it can also improve lip and cheek support, giving a more youthful facial appearance. It also makes cleaning your teeth easier,” says Dr Anning. In many cases, if your teeth are in need of restoration with crowns and veneers, having orthodontic treatment can make these treatments easier and more effective.

But braces? At my age?

Although there is a perception that orthodontics are for teenagers, Dr Anning says this simply isn’t the case. In his Auckland practice, adult orthodontics are his focus. “I have straightened teeth of people in their sixties,” he says. It doesn’t necessarily mean walking around with train tracks on your teeth either. “There are an increasing number of treatment options that provide a more discreet way of straightening teeth, which appeal to adults,” says Dr Anning.

They include Invisalign, which are removable, clear aligners that are virtually invisible on the teeth; and Incognito Hidden Braces, which are placed on the back of the teeth and totally invisible from the front. And these days, even the more traditional braces worn on the front of the teeth can be made more discreet with smaller brackets that are closely matched to the colour of your teeth.

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