A person’s smile is their greeting card to others – a smile makes you feel better, it makes others around you smile and helps them to relax. Before considering any extensive cosmetic dental options it is fundamentally important to make sure teeth are functionally sound and gums are reasonably healthy.
Years ago I routinely went out to a high school in my community where many refugees had migrated to our country. Often, these students’ cultures brought along hygiene methods from their country (like brushing with salt) that did not prepare them for the infusion of American food high in refined sugars. My visits to the school were about making the students aware of the needed changes to their hygiene habits along with nutrition education to mitigate the problems with our American fast food diets and oral health. Part of my presentation began with a slide show of different smiles. For fun I would have them rank, seeing only the lips and smile, the age of the person. I found they would almost always rank a person with a healthy, symmetrical smile 10+ years younger than their actual biologic age.
I have seen first hand the changes to people’s lives when they are able to have broken down, missing, worn and/or discolored teeth transformed to a more functional, appealing smile. Habits such as not smiling much or actually hiding their teeth melt away and bring about a greater sense of pride and comfort with others. I found it ironic when patients noted in their health history they had recent cosmetic surgery (such as a facelift) but their teeth were ragged and discolored. If they had only realized that fixing their teeth often erases 10 years from their facial appearance.
There are many techniques available for cosmetic changes to teeth ranging from veneers and crowns to a more simplified cosmetic bonding and sometimes even orthodontics. In our practice we utilize digital, clinical photography to assist in analyzing possible cosmetic changes. Discussing appearance is a very personal topic and we strive to be sensitive and try not to be overbearing in making cosmetic suggestions to our patients. If, however, you have an interest in changes to your smile appearance, please ask us as we love helping patients achieve their goals and sharing the many possible options available.