Until recently, cosmetic dentistry was utilized primarily by young adults and those in the public eye, most often those who fit into both categories. However, now that the boomer generation is becoming a rapidly growing senior population – roughly 50,000 people every day are reaching the half-century mark – a younger appearance as a result of straight beautiful pearly whites has come to be as essential as keeping physically fit. And as life expectancies increase yearly, general dentistry is necessary to keep our smiles as healthy as the rest of our bodies.
In our grandparents’ day, losing teeth was regarded as a normal part of the aging process. Broken, cracked or infected teeth were typically extracted rather than saved or capped. But advances in the field have made extraction a last-ditch procedure, with new alternative remedies becoming available daily. The easiest and most popular way to immediately look younger is by teeth whitening, and even though there are many over-the-counter products that guarantee a whiter smile, the procedure is best left to a cosmetic or general dentist. Not only are the results more reliable, the method is safer. It has been reported that some over-the-counter whitening treatments contain harsh ingredients that may damage tooth enamel.
Of course, color change is just one of the signs of aging dentition. As we age, our teeth wear down and actually become shorter. Chewing, grinding and erosion take their toll on tooth size, leading in turn to changes to the entire musculature of the face, from chin to eyes, adding to the appearance of aging. Also, teeth tend to migrate toward the middle of the mouth, causing overlap and further distortion of the facial characteristics.
Using the pain-free methods of sedation dentistry, the length and proportions of young-looking teeth can easily be restored. Typically, this is done through the use of resin or porcelain veneers or ceramic crowns, all of which work to take years off the appearance of an aging smile. Dental technicians are adept at producing mockups of recommended adjustments to damaged teeth so that patients can see what their new smiles will look like after the work is completed.
Aside from the aesthetic benefits of cosmetic dentistry, a full set of healthy teeth can add years to a person’s life. The digestive process begins in the mouth, as well-chewed food mixes with saliva to prepare it for entrance to the stomach. When food is not properly chewed, it can lose nutritional value and can cause digestive upset. Moreover, a healthy weight-loss diet starts with thoroughly and slowly masticated food which naturally calls for a full set of teeth. The reality is, there are so many reasons to keep a healthy set of teeth for life, and so many new and pain-free ways to maintain them, there is no excuse to lose that youthful smile, no matter the number of birthdays one has celebrated.