New tech to anti-age your teeth

It’s been said that your smile is your ‘last anti-ageing frontier’ and as the trend for luxury dental care continues, there is even more reason to keep teeth looking younger for longer.

By Ingrid Wood

If plush rooms, state-of-the-art facilities that go beyond the ordinary and the latest advancements in dental technology make the idea of an aesthetic dental visit more palatable, then maybe it’s time to consider putting your money where your mouth is and finally getting the smile you’ve always wanted.

Chipped, broken, damaged, skewed and discoloured teeth can all affect a smile and orthodontic problems specifically don’t improve with age. “Teeth become both discoloured and possibly damaged as we get older. The enamel on our teeth can be worn away by grinding (which can also lead to damage such as chipped edges), carbonated drinks and acid reflux,” explains Dr Mark Bowes, who together with Prof Howard Gluckman founded Enamel Clinic in Cape Town.

While tooth wear cannot be avoided, there are quick anti-ageing fixes thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, which nowadays is not just about a smile makeover, it can also help preserve the dental structure, which means stronger and healthier teeth.

  1. Clear aligners

Clear aligners are clear, removable and comfortable orthodontic devices used to move teeth. They are custom-made for a snug fit but can be removed for eating, flossing and brushing. They are typically used for patients who have mild, moderate and complex crowded teeth or have minor spacing issues and can often replace the ‘railway tracks’ of old, so it’s not surprising that there has been a surge in adult orthodontics to straighten crooked teeth and fix bites, the ‘invisible’ way.

  1. Gentler whitening

The biggest concern with teeth whitening is sensitivity, which is generally due to gum recession, but new technology such as White Dental Beauty uses Novon, which increases the efficiency of the bleach. “This means it’s possible to reduce the concentration from 10 per cent carbamide peroxide to 5 per cent, which reduces sensitivity without compromising the results,” says Dr Bowes.

  1. Lite dentistry

The most common anti-ageing dental solution is teeth whitening, but there is also a combination option referred to as ABB – align, bleach and blond – or lite dentistry. “It’s a combination of straightening teeth using aligners, followed by whitening and finally resin bonding to repair chipped edges, leaving you looking younger and fresher,” says Dr Bowes.

  1. A specialised smile

Exciting tech lies in Digital Smile Design (DSD). “In the past, dentists, dental specialists and dental lab technicians worked on models of the teeth, rather than working with an image and scan of the patient’s face,” explains Prof Gluckman. “Now the process starts with treating any disease or decay using scans to help us diagnose problems. I take a series of photographs, as well as intra-oral scans – which are a lot of small photographs that are stitched together to form a digital impression of the teeth, and I may take a CBCT scan (cone beam tomography) and in future a facial scan. These images are then overlaid on each other to understand the biology, function and aesthetics of the new smile. Once we have designed a new smile for a patient, we use the 3D plan to manufacture guides. Often these plans include many dental specialists in the treatment planning phase.” Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach – the final result needs to look natural in colour and shape. And while the specialists may be the ‘architects’ of the smile, they agree that the patient needs to be the ‘co-designer of their smile’.

  1. A spa-like environment

A key part of luxury dental care is making the dental experience relaxing and tranquil. Many patients experience some kind of dental anxiety, so some dental clinics now offer a high-quality spa-like experience – a long way from the dental offices of the past – which encourages patients to return more regularly. “We purposefully designed our clinic with curved walls to mimic nature, but also to look less clinical,” says Dr Bowes. “The spa-like interior has lots of natural light and comfortable seating areas, a refreshment station and even a signature scent delivered by custom candles. The oral hygiene rooms and dental surgeries have a few added luxuries, to help the patient feel pampered and well looked after.”

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