You probably dont think of going to a dentist when you long for a fresher (read: younger) lookbut maybe you should. “Teeth support the lower third of the face,” says Michael Apa, DDS, a New York City–based cosmetic dentist and an instructor at the New York University College of Dentistry.
“If theyre set too far back, your lips fall inward and look thin. If theyre worn down, cheekbones hollow out and wrinkles look more obvious.” You can correct aging-teeth issuesstains, chips, crowding, ground-down enameland rejuvenate your look in a couple of visits.
Telltale ager: Crowding or gapping (Above left photo)
Smile saver: Porcelain veneerswafer-thin shells that are affixed to the front of your teethcan realign your teeth, rebuild lost height, and conceal chips, cracks, and stains, Dr. Apa explains. (Above right photo)
Commitment: A dentist can make over your smile with veneers in two three-hour appointments. During the first visit, your teeth are reshapedthis sometimes requires drilling of your tooths enamel. Your dentist will then make a mold of your teeth (which is sent out to a lab that will make your veneers) before applying temporary veneers. At the next visit, the dentist removes the temporary set and bonds the new veneers into place.
Cost: Youll pay about $500 to $2,000 per tooth, depending on where you live. Generally, insurance will pay for veneers only if theyre being applied over broken teeth.
Telltale ager: Discoloration (Left photo)
Smile saver: In-office whitening treatments can brighten both yellow and graying teeth (Right photo). Yellow stainswhich often result from smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, tea, and red winemainly appear in your late 20s and 30s. And, Dr. Apa says, “as we age the nerves in our teeth recede, depriving teeth of nourishment and causing them to turn brittle and gray.”
Commitment: Teeth can go from dingy to dazzling in a single one-hour appointment. After coating teeth with a hydrogen peroxide solution, your dentist will shine a heatless light on your teeth to start the bleaching action (often replacing the peroxide every 15 minutes to keep it potent). Results last up to one year.
Cost: Youll pay anywhere from $500 to $1,000 to brighten your whole smile; whitening is not covered by insurance.
Telltale ager: Old dental work (Left photo)
Smile saver: When childhood fillings deteriorate, crowns crack, or decades-old bonding pulls away from teeth, you should have them replaced with stronger, more attractive porcelain restorations (Right photo). (On average, veneers last 15 to 20 years; crowns, 7 to 10; and implants, 15.) Even if an old restoration isnt causing you pain, it may be aging your smile. “Over time, silver fillings can leach into enamel, turning it a dark, grayish color,” Dr. Apa notes.
Commitment: Dentists can remove and replace most restorations in one or two visits.
Cost: The prices can range dramaticallyfrom a few hundred dollars to replace an old filling to a few thousand dollars for a new crown. Some restorations are covered by insurance if theyre needed to save a tooth, but most likely youll need to be preapproved by your carrier.