Healthy Smile: Yes, Age Counts

by Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD of The Healthy Smile

Remember when the highlight of the year next to Christmas was our birthday? We had parties and gifts galore with deliciously sweet birthday cake and ice cream. As time passed, the anniversary of our birth lost some of its luster for many of us. For some, it has a negative connotation; for others, it is just a regular day. We strive to hold onto the past for as long as we can. We see physical signs of aging throughout our physical appearance. One of the most notable areas is our face, particularly our smile. Does age play a role in my treatment recommendations or not?

As the column began, age does count in my decision-making and innovative treatment approaches for all of my patients. Let me tell you about a female patient I saw this week and where age was a factor in our plan. She struggles in general with dentistry as her level of anxiety is high. She came to see me after an upper cuspid tooth, often called the “eye tooth.” The tooth in question fractured to the gum line, and I could not restore it.

Normally, this would be a simple case to treat. My general plan would involve removing the fractured tooth and replacing it with an implant or bridge. Except, in this case, we have a “however.” The tooth immediately in front of the broken tooth was set back in her mouth. When she smiled, it looked like she had nothing but front teeth as the back teeth were hidden from view. I could not make her a bridge as the tooth in front was so recessed. If I were to do that, it would still look like she had a broken tooth and was missing two teeth. The same scenario would apply if I replaced the broken tooth with an implant.

Granted, this is how she came in the door, and her smile was far less than perfect. I would even go on to say that her smile was not attractive. She knew this and agreed with me. Afterward, she told me that no one ever wanted to address her smile, which she felt was lacking. My patient is twenty-four years old. If we don’t get a handle on her oral health and smile at this age, she will be in full dentures very soon. We discussed this, and even though her parents and grandparents followed this path, she preferred not to go this way. She has many years ahead of her, and my goal is to keep everyone’s teeth as long as possible, if not forever.

I recommended moving her teeth into a more esthetic position with Invisalign treatment. With her teeth in the proper position, I could fix and replace teeth and create a very youthful appearance. Would this approach work for someone fifty years older than she? The answer to that question is a definite maybe. Just like I factored in several side issues with her, so too I would do so with an older individual. Age does not dictate treatment, but it is one of many factors I consider when developing the proper approach for each of you.

I have many wonderful tools in my arsenal to preserve your teeth for a lifetime. Even if you have lost your teeth, the array of approaches I utilize creates hope for many people. I won’t give up on you, and you should not give up hope on yourself regarding oral health. If healthy teeth and gums are on your bucket list, please call me for a consultation. We can figure this out together. My number is 440.892.1810, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

The Healthy Smile • 27239 Wolf Road, Bay Village, OH 44140 • 440-892-1810 •

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