Your smile is the brightest and most noticeable part of your face, at least one would hope. As we get older, our teeth can often yellow, or worse, age to a point where we may no longer want to show them. Even with preventative measures, there may be unavoidable aging factors that can lead to an older looking smile.
Just like greying hair or deepening wrinkles, there are a number of things you can do to fix or ward off the signs of aging. Here are a few ways to make sure your smile is age-proof.
Dental Hygiene is Key
Your teeth are a major indicator when it comes to your age. Depending on their care, they can make you look far younger or older. It seems obvious, but brushing and flossing regularly is a must. There is a good chance you have gone a lifetime without knowing how to properly care for your teeth, possibly even accidentally accelerating the aging process.
Using a lot of pressure or aggressive brushing up and down can actually have detrimental effects on your teeth and gums. It is best to brush twice a day using a soft-bristle toothbrush, using soft circular motions, or starting at the base of your gums and sweeping over your teeth without brushing towards your gums. This method pulls plaque away from your gums without putting pressure on your gum line.
Flossing is also important as it removes debris, prevents buildup, and allows oxygen to get to your gums. Choosing a water pick or an air flosser is a great decision as it makes flossing easier and more effective.
Keep Your Gums Healthy
The reason for using an air flosser or choosing a softer bristle brush is that it is easier on your gums while still removing plaque from your teeth and gum line. The health of your gums is integral to the health of your teeth and mouth and helps prevent future age-related issues. Aging decreases the production of saliva, which removes the bacteria that causes plaque. Years of plaque buildup and aggressive brushing can wear away your gum line, causing receding.
The peeled-back appearance of your gums can expose the tooth root, which tends to be grey. Grey lines along your gum line can indicate more serious periodontal issues, and also your age. Ways to counteract receding include quitting smoking, good dental hygiene, and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups.
White Smiles Are Young Smiles
As your hair gets lighter, your teeth tend to get more yellow or possibly even grey. Aside from things like coffee, smoking, and red wine, the simple act of aging can have an effect on the color of your teeth. With age, the outermost layer of tooth enamel thins, exposing the inner dentin, which has a yellow hue.
While slight wear is unavoidable, yellowing is completely preventable. Professional whitening procedures and over-the-counter remedies are great options. Look for those that contain higher percentages of hydrogen peroxide for the best results. Avoid any store-
bought whitening claims that seem too good to be true, like a perfect smile in 30 minutes or less. For extreme yellowing, it might be best to seek laser whitening treatments.
Straighten Your Teeth
Straight teeth are the biggest red flag when it comes to your age. For those who have had braces, once removed, your teeth will return to their original places. In older orthodontic practices, orthodontists would remove braces without any sort of long-term plan put in place. Newer dentistry follows up orthodontic work with retainers, either permanent or worn at night.
Even if you have naturally straight teeth, fillings and crowns can cause overcrowding and subsequent shifting. Additionally, clenching and chewing cause wear, making teeth incrementally smaller and creating tiny gaps. Any sort of gap in your teeth allows other teeth to move in and fill the space.
Shifting is almost impossible to prevent without a lifetime commitment to braces or permanent retainers. If you have noticed your teeth have returned to their pre-braces locations, or that you are experiencing new movement, ask your dentist about a clear retainer or mouthguard. Invisalign is another option for folks who want youthful smiles but don’t want to pursue more intrusive orthodontics.