Valentine’s Day makes many people smile, but what is in a smile? What makes up a perfect smile? And what can you do if you are unhappy with your smile?
In this blog post we will look at the art of designing smiles and how much a smile can impact the way the world perceives you.
Does your smile really matter?
Here is a great image, take a look at these celebrities with their smile photo-shopped out… Quite a difference in their appearance.
Your smile really does matter, so let’s look at things from your point of view…
Problems with my smile
Let’s look at a few potential problems with your smile and delve a little deeper into some of the possible solutions.
My teeth are worn down.
Image Credit: John J. Cloud, DDS mjdentistrylittlerock.com
The way your teeth sit in each jaw is very important. All of your teeth are in fine balance with one another, particularly whilst eating. Sometimes this balance can be out of sync. If this happens the muscles around your jaw, face, head and neck can compensate for this lack of balance with the way your teeth work together. The muscles can pull your jaw into a different position (this can also sometimes lead to headaches) and also often means that other teeth meet together more they ideally should.
If certain teeth are used more than others then they can become very worn. This grinding process often happens and night and is called bruxism.
Over time this wearing down produces a flat surface to the tips of the teeth which looks unsightly and also has a tendency to look older.
Wearing special occlusal deprogramming devices on your teeth for a couple of weeks can help relax these muscles and allow your dentist to find out the natural position of your jaw. In this natural position the dentist can either adjust your existing teeth and/or design some restorations to fit over your existing teeth which will restore the balance to your teeth.
I have missing teeth.
If you have missing teeth and wish to replace them you have three primary options.
Dentures can be used to replace missing teeth, these are removable appliances and can look very natural. A dental bridge can also be used, this is a restoration which attaches to the adjacent teeth either side of the gap. A new tooth is then suspended between the existing teeth on either side. A dental implant is another option as it is implanted directly into the bone of the missing teeth/tooth. This means that the adjacent teeth are left unaffected which is far kinder to them and offers the dentist a much more minimalist approach.
My teeth are really crooked.
Crooked teeth can be corrected in a number of ways. Orthodontics is often the preferred option as this maintains your existing tooth structure. Another way to straighten mildly crooked teeth is to use dental bonding. This is where a small amount of tooth coloured composite material is firmly attached to the surface of your teeth to give the illusion of them being straight. The final option is to have dental veneers or crowns. These often require removal of otherwise healthy tooth structure in order to facilitate the placement of the new, and straighter, dental veneers or crowns.
I have a gummy smile.
Image Credit: Ryan Lanman, DDS MSD oklahomacitydentalimplant.com
There are various techniques to correct a gummy smile. One technique involves gingival re-contouring with surgery. This is where the teeth are reshaped at the gum margins using a surgical procedure. The teeth can then be reduced and restored with crowns. In some cases botulinum toxin type A (often referred to as Botox) can also be used to restore a gummy smile.
My top teeth stick out.
Image Credit: SmileLogic Orthodontics smilelogicortho.com
If your top teeth stick out then it could be for one of two reasons.
- Your upper jaw is protruding.
- Your lower jaw is retruding.
Depending on your age this can be dealt with in a number of ways. For very young pre-teen patients with a retruding lower jaw, orthopaedic orthodontics can be used to bring the lower jaw forwards and therefore realign the teeth. If the upper teeth are protruding then extracting some of the back teeth can then make space to use orthodontics to bring the front teeth backwards and into line.
A full face assessment is required in any case to ascertain whether it is the top teeth which need bringing back or the lower teeth which need bringing forwards. This will affect the contour of your face and is a very important decision that your dentist/orthodontist needs to make.
Adults with protruding top teeth may also be able to have a combination of orthodontics and restorative work (crowns, veneers, bridges, bonding) to restore their smile.
I have [a] dark [tooth ] teeth
Depending on how dark your teeth/tooth are/is will guide your dentist as to the best way to restore them to their natural brightness (and beyond!). For teeth which just have mild discolouration and/or staining gentle air abrasion may be all that is required to remove the surface stains, this is often available with your dental hygienist.
For more severe discolouration teeth whitening, also known as tooth bleaching, can be used. This is where a carefully controlled dental bleaching gel is held in place on your tooth with a custom made precision whitening tray. You would normally wear this tray with the whitening gel overnight for approximately 6 nights. If your teeth are particularly dark and beyond the scope of teeth whitening then some form of restorative option may be required. This would probably involve dental veneers or dental crowns.
Which treatment is right?
Rather than trying to choose a specific treatment we recommend that you focus on 3 things:
- Where you are now dentally
- Where you want to be dentally
- How fast you want to get there
You can then tell your dentist about all of your current concerns (where you are now) and explain to them exactly what you would like corrected and how you want to look afterwards (where you want to be). Piecing this information together with your clinical situation and the speed that you require the change will help your dentist decide on the best treatment for you.
For example: Sometimes the best clinical alternative for straighter teeth is to use orthodontics, this process can take up to 2 years to complete. If you want to have your teeth straighter for a special occasion then it may be that we have to use dental veneers, crowns or dental bonding in order to achieve your desired result in the time frame you have.
When you go to visit any dentist you should always be presented with a full treatment plan which lays out all of your options, benefits, advantages and disadvantages along with the cost. You can then make an informed choice about which treatment gives you the best result in the ideal time and for the price you can afford.
The Dental Centre London are a private dental practice offering free dental health advice via their blog and social media channels.