As the Baby Boomer generation moves into its 60s, more and more of us are concerned with looking younger. We do it with vitamins, diet, exercise, makeup, cosmetic surgery, and yes, even with cosmetic dentistry.
In recent years we have learned a lot about how aging affects the soft tissues and bones of your face. This has led to an approach to orthodontics that considers not only the teeth and jaws, but also the continuing growth of the bones and soft tissues of the face.
We used to think that growth stopped when people reached their late teens or early 20s. However, recent studies have shown that some kinds of growth continue throughout a person's lifetime. Your bones and facial structures change as much between the ages of 25 and 42 as they do between 18 and 25.
As you age your facial profile flattens, your nose becomes more prominent, the lower part of your face becomes shorter, and your lips become thinner. By studying these changes we have learned to consider them when planning orthodontic treatment. Modern orthodontics treats the entire face, not just the teeth.
The science of orthodontics is dedicated to slowly moving the teeth within the jaws to better functional and aesthetic positions, using standard braces or clear aligners. Sometimes the upper and lower jaws are so far out of alignment that more extreme treatment is needed. In such cases orthognathic (from ortho, meaning straight and gnathos, meaning jaw) surgery may be required to achieve the best results. Orthognathic surgery was once considered a drastic procedure, but it has become easier to manage during and following surgery and is now considered a more normal treatment option, like a facelift. Since the nose becomes more prominent as part of the aging process, the surgery is sometimes combined with rhinoplasty, or reshaping of the nose.
This new approach to orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry — taking into consideration the normal changes that occur as a person's face ages throughout life — requires teamwork among a general dentist, an orthodontist, and an oral surgeon. The results are a long-lasting change that holds back the clock on aging.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Aging Makes Beauty Timeless.”