L.A. Health News
Who does not know that a beautiful smile with healthy-looking, naturally white and proportionately shaped and sized teeth is a precursor to an esthetically pleasing image that we strive to create in our lives. Not only is it a trademark of health, beauty, and young age, but it also plays a significant role in our social, business and sexual interactions.
In this modern era, many possibilities exist, using a blend of artistic creativity and science, to create the dental image that we are longing for. Important is, however, before embarking on such a metamorphosis, to determine the limiting factors. Is the image you want to create technically feasible? Does it conform to your facial type? Is it too invasive? Most of the time, given the right circumstances, it does not have to involve harrowing sessions in the dental chair, nor does it have to be as invasive as you might think.
In evaluating our dental appearance, we tend to overlook some other factors compromising esthetics. If the lips are too thin with pronounced wrinkles at the corners of the mouth, and the teeth do not show enough upon smiling, it means that the vertical relationship between the upper and lower jaws has been diminished through poor dental work or heavy wear. Likewise, past orthodontic therapy, where teeth have been extracted, many times produce a flat face with small arches, retruded teeth and thus, flat, thin lips. TMJ symptoms are not uncommon in such scenarios.
If one studies photos of beautiful models, one will notice that, apart from large, white teeth,
- They have a broad smile with full visibility of their teeth supported by a broad dental arch.
- Their teeth follow a curve line parallel to the lower lip line.
- They have a convex profile with fully supported lips, meaning that there was adequate forward growth of the bone structures supporting the front teeth, and the teeth themselves are inclined forward, rather than backward.
Today, in children between the ages of 6 – 12, some dentists intervene with functional orthopedic appliances to encourage a pattern of growth, that will produce an esthetically pleasing profile. In adults, however, who have ceased growing, and who do not intend to undergo extensive brace therapy, there are still ways to improve function and esthetics by rebuilding teeth to approach the esthetic standards mentioned above.
Modern porcelain materials and sophisticated bonding agents allow us to rebuild teeth using minimal tooth reduction and no metals. In a coordinated sequence of treatments, failing silver fillings and leaking crowns and bridges are removed, and decay is cleaned out using lasers. In this process, healthy tooth structure is conserved, and the gum-line is not violated. Restorations are made using porcelains that resemble natural tooth. Unfilled teeth, if needed, are left untouched by the drill, and are overlaid with porcelain, just like veneers.
A newer understanding of the dynamics of jaw and neuromuscular function, along with a stepwise technique allow us to keep a healthy and harmonious bite relationship, even after regaining the lost vertical relationship between the teeth. This slight “bite opening” creates enough leeway space for reconstructing a completely new chewing surface with proper tooth anatomy on the back teeth, and at the same time allows us to later design longer veneers for the front teeth, enhancing the smile even more.