4146 Carmichael Road, Suite A
Montgomery, AL 36106
Thomas, Stephen J D.D.S.
1771 Independence Ct # 3
Vestavia, AL, 35216-1232
Smith, Edwin Lee D.D.S.
1932 Laurel Rd # 2d
Vestavia, AL, 35216-1939
Edward Walker D.D.S. DMD P.C
303 Williams Ave SW
Huntsville, AL, 35801
Hunter, Schuyler F D.D.S.
2006 Franklin St Se # 209
Huntsville, AL, 35801-4537
Everyone, even your dentist, knows that when we age, we see certain changes in our face (for example, wrinkled skin, less skin tone, shrunken appearance). The soft tissue in the lower one-third of the face is supported by the teeth and jawbone, and gives support to your smile. As we age, we lose support to our smile and we begin to appear older.
Anatomically, the face is divided into thirds: the upper, middle and lower one-third. The space between your nose and your chin is referred to as the lower one-third. The teeth support the vertical height of your lower face, and more specifically the back teeth support your lower face.
Most dentists agree that minimal and gradual wearing away of the top enamel of the teeth is considered normal during the lifespan of a patient. However, excessive wear on the top surfaces of the teeth can result in abscessed teeth, an irregular bite, decreased chewing capacity and esthetic disharmony. Patients with these types of problems often require extensive restorative cosmetic dentistry treatment.
Although the prevalence of tooth wear, or attrition, is not known, it is thought to be very common in adults over the age of 40. The wearing of the top surfaces of the teeth is most often attributed to attrition, which is the wearing away of one tooth surface by another tooth surface. Attrition is the result of bruxism, or the involuntary grinding of the teeth against each other.
Attrition can be the result of one or a combination of problems such as:
Depending on the severity of the tooth wear, teeth may be broken, shortened and unattractive. Having worn teeth can result in jaw joint pain (TMJ), a decreased ability to chew and a sunken appearance to the lower face. All of these results can make a person appear more wrinkled and older.
Generally, the worn teeth will have to have new fillings placed or redone. When severe wear occurs in the mouth, a dental crown or multiple crowns may be the only solution.
Yes, tooth wear can be prevented, but only if you make regular visits to the dentist. If detected early enough, your dentist may prescribe a plastic night guard to protect your teeth, much like an athletic mouth guard.
By Benjamin O. Watkins, III, DDS
Throughout history, dentists have tried to recreate the function and beauty of natural teeth when tooth structure has been lost. Restoring function used to be the main goal of a dentist because prior to the 1970's, dentistry lacked the proper technology to achieve fine esthetics as well as function. Dentists could only predictably offer patients a restoration that would simply "fill" the empty space. Today, dentistry has more advanced dental materials and newly developed techniques that allow dentists to offer artistically-recreated, natural-looking crowns and modern tooth bonding that would fool even the most critical eye.
Before you can understand how crowns and tooth bonding can mimic teeth you must understand why natural teeth appear as they do.
It is a common mistake for patients to think that their teeth are all one color. Your teeth are never just one color. They are a series of superimposed translucent layers of varying shades. Teeth also have different surface textures that reflect light in ways that affect the color of your teeth.
Your teeth are made up of three layers: pulp, dentin, and enamel. Each layer has a specific thickness, composition and structure. Additionally, the way light reflects off of or transluces through the layers gives you the color of your teeth. Using knowledge about the three layers of teeth allow dentists and dental technicians to recreate natural-looking dental crowns and tooth bonding.
Dental crown technicians are the true artisans in dentistry. Dentists begin the crown-making process by reducing the size of the tooth, making an impression of the reduced tooth, and selecting the proper shades of the tooth. This information is then transferred to the dental technician so a crown can be made.
Dental technicians blend science with artistic knowledge to recreate natural-looking teeth. Artistically, they use frame and reference, proportion and idealism, perspective and illusion as well as symmetry to mimic nature. Understanding the language of colors and using new dental materials and techniques has allowed the dentist to not only "fill" missing spaces but create cosmetic dentistry artwork from crowns and tooth bonding as well.
By Benjamin O. Watkins, III, DDS