In this edition of our expert panel series, we talk to expert orthodontist, Dr Moira Wong. Dr Wong advises us on how orthodontics can tackle signs of ageing and improve overall facial structure.
How can orthodontics tackle signs of ageing?
Signs of dental ageing are expressed as crowding of both upper and lower teeth. People who have straight teeth all their lives can suddenly start seeing signs of crowding in their 30's and 40's. Other patients that have undergone orthodontics as a teenager can also find the teeth reverting back to their original position as they get older unless they have been fitted with bonded retainers.
What people do not realise is that teeth move throughout one's life and often crowding is seen later on in life, also known as dental ageing. Straightening of the teeth and the lifelong retention not only gives patients a youthful and beautiful smile they can be proud of but also halts any further ageing by ensuring retention is carried out so that no further tooth movement occurs.
Other than straightening teeth, what else can orthodontics fix?
Orthodontics can correct jaw problems as well as straightening teeth. In the horizontal dimension this can be expressed as a longer or shorter lower jaw. With a longer lower jaw, this may become more obvious with age as the puppy fat around the face disappears and the underlying bone structure becomes more obvious.
The opposite is also true for people that have very short lower jaws. When looking in the mirror from the side, patients observe that there is very little distance between the neck and the chin and this can become more obvious with age as the fat builds up in this area giving the appearance what has been termed "a turkey neck" appearance.
In the vertical dimension some people have shortened faces which can result in a very squashed lower facial dimension seen as in the image below.
A combination of Orthodontics and maxillofacial surgery to correct the jaw positions which is carried out from inside the mouth, hence resulting in no scars to place the jaws in their correct position relative to the rest of the face and provide a more balanced facial appearance.
How can orthodontics improve facial structure and enhance beauty treatments?
Many patients undergo filler treatments, especially in the area around the mouth to give the appearance of a more youthful lower face. As we age the lines running from the corners of the nose to the corners of the mouth tend to deepen. Fillers are beneficial in giving a more plump appearance and also reducing the fine lines in these areas. However, what is often overlooked is the positioning of the teeth.
In many patients with very little lip support the upper front teeth may be tilted inwards or be positioned in a more vertical position. This will affect the support that the teeth provides to the lips. In patients diagnosed with this type of malocclusion, correction of the teeth to place them at their correct angulation often results in an improved support to the lower face which can only enhance the beauty treatments they are undergoing. By addressing the foundation of the face, it becomes easier to then carry out more superficial treatments to give the patients the best treatment result.