Virtually every magazine in the past six months has featured stories on how to look younger. Many offer somewhat costly methods as the best approach, but others that can really help cost very little. This article offers some of each, and I am willing to bet that you may be guilty of one or more behaviors that could be making you appear older than you really are.
Control Your Habits
When it comes to habit control, for most of us, how and what we eat is at the top of the list. True, regulating your eating habits can result in a younger looking body, but that is not what I had in mind. Nor am I talking about proper and regular brushing and flossing, although they, too, can help keep your teeth and gums healthier. The one bad habit that most people are totally unaware of is clenching and grinding (bruxism) your teeth, which can wear down your enamel edges. This devastating habit can make your smile, and therefore your face, look older by wearing down your front teeth. There is another good reason to break the habit. Long-term clenching or grinding can put so much stress on your teeth that it can affect your gum tissue, even causing your gums to shrink away from your teeth. This can result in exposing the roots of your teeth, requiring a gum graft to help repair the damage.
So is the solution to get a night guard to wear when you are sleeping? That certainly is part of it, but what you and perhaps 95% of people are totally unaware of is day grinding. We tend to do it in periods of work-related stress, driving in traffic, and even solving everyday problems at home. The solution really does not cost anything to learn to stop the harmful habit. The simple rule is your teeth should only touch when you are eating! Read that line again, please, and put it in your memory. So if you find your teeth together or even touching when you are not enjoying a meal…just stop it! Your reward will be to continue having a youthful looking smile with your two front teeth just slightly longer than the adjacent teeth. As a result, when you smile the curve of the biting edges of your upper teeth will mimic your lower lip line.
Keep The Color of Your Teeth Looking Bright
When it comes to the color of your teeth, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting too long to begin bleaching your teeth. Assuming you brush and floss properly at least twice daily, your teeth and gum tissue should look healthy, unless you have a periodontal problem. However, there are external substances that can severely darken the teeth, such as smoking, drinking huge amounts of coffee, and even consuming large amounts of healthy but stain-producing foods such as blueberries. As the teeth become darker looking, your smile becomes older looking. Most everyone has some hidden enamel microcracks that tend to absorb food stains more rapidly than intact enamel. Therefore, try not to wait until your teeth become so dingy that bleaching may not be as effective as it could be. Bleaching doesn’t have to be expensive as there are numerous options available, from your dentist’s office to your closest drugstore or computer for Internet shopping. Most bleaching systems are based on hydrogen peroxide compounds and mainly carbamide peroxide for home bleaching, offering an affordable way to keep your smile looking youthful.
Have Your Teeth Contoured to Create a Younger Looking Smile
So few people are born with a perfect smile and that is why orthodontists are kept really busy. No doubt repositioning your teeth through typical braces, ceramic brackets or even invisible straightening (Invisalign) is almost always the best option. Although you may think that orthodontic treatment is pricey, think again, because most quick fixes such as porcelain veneers or all-ceramic crowns are not only much more costly, but they will need to be remade a few times during your lifetime. However, there is one possible less costly alternative depending on how misshapen your teeth are. The technique is called cosmetic contouring of your natural enamel. The procedure normally can be done in a single appointment and can cost from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the number of teeth involved and also the artistic talent of the dentist. In the consumer book Change Your Smile (Amazon), I created a comparative guide at the end of each chapter that shows all the ways each problem can be corrected, detailing the advantages, disadvantages, required maintenance, treatment longevity, and appropriate fees for each procedure. (The softbound book is inexpensive and royalties go to charity).
Keep Sun Exposure to a Minimum
Dermatologist Dr. Russell Harris of MetroDerm P.C. in Atlanta strongly recommends that to keep your skin looking youthful, you must protect yourself from the sun. The sun’s rays promote premature aging of the skin, or “photoaging,” and the long-term damage from sun bathing will last a lot longer than the tan. Dr. Foad Nahai, a plastic surgeon with Emory Healthcare, agrees, “Sun exposure and smoking accelerate aging of the facial skin. These ‘lifestyle habits’ lead to wrinkling of the skin and patchy color changes. Avoiding these and applying moisturizer will maintain the youthful