“Your teeth are the scaffold for your whole face,” says Uchenna Okoye, clinical director of the London Smiling Dental Group and dentist for Channel 5’s Ten Years Younger makeover show. She says losing teeth can accelerate bone loss in the lower face, contributing to jowls and making you look older, so it’s vital to hold on to as many of them as you can.
To keep them healthy and bright, Dr Okoye recommends regular gentle brushing – never scrubbing - with an electric toothbrush. “I use one from Oral B’s Genius range,” she says. (Try Oral-B Genius 9000, £300 from Boots.com, though look out for regular half-price offers) “Just hold it in place and let it do its job.” Use floss or tape daily.
Teeth can often become more uneven with age. “As our collagen levels drop, teeth aren’t held so securely and can start to move forward,” says Dr Okoye. “You might notice that it’s harder to floss between them as the gaps get tighter, or even that teeth start crossing over each other.” Dr Okoye says the minute you notice any movement, ask your dentist for a retainer. These are usually soft plastic mouthguards that fit snugly on your teeth and are worn overnight.
If you’ve always dreamed of having a perfectly formed smile, Dr Rhona Eskander, who runs the Chelsea Dental Clinic, has good news. “You are never too old to wear braces,” she says. “Invisalign is perfect for this.” A clear brace which fits over your teeth, Invisalign braces allow teeth to be straightened in a healthy, unobtrusive way. “They can even give an anti-aging affect by stimulating and plumping the soft tissues of your face,” says Dr Eskander.
Dr Okoye’s oldest brace-wearing patient was 85, and she wore a metal ‘lingual’ brace, which is like a wire fixed to the back rather than front of her teeth, making it invisible.
Invisalign costs on average from £2,500 to £8,000, depending on the complexity of your case. Lingual braces, says Dr Okoye, cost from £5,000. Plan ahead if you want to smile with confidence at a special event. It can take as little as six months to straighten minor niggles but an average of 18months for a more drastic makeover.
To keep teeth white, see your dental hygienist regularly to remove surface stains. If the stains are deeper in the enamel, opt for professional whitening. “This must be at a dentist,” says Dr Okoye. “It’s illegal for anyone else, such as a beautician, to offer tooth whitening. And products you can buy on the internet may permanently erode your enamel and burn your gums.” Products sold legally in the UK must contain less than 0.1% of the most common bleaching ingredient hydrogen peroxide, so they won’t give the same results as professional treatments containing up to 6%.
Most dentists offer custom-made plastic trays to which you add a whitening gel. These can be worn overnight or for an hour during the day, with maximum whitening happening over two to three weeks. Expect to pay around £300, see teeth lighten by up to 12 shades, and, says Dr Okoye, the results can last up to four years.
You might assume that in-surgery laser whitening is the gold-standard for getting teeth gleaming, but according to the British Dental Association “power bleaching is less effective and has greater degree of relapse compared with home bleaching.”
Or ask your dentist about whitening strips. These are like a tape you apply to teeth and wear for an hour a day. They aren’t as effective as trays, but usually cost less than £100.
But don’t worry about ending up with ridiculous day-glo white teeth as seen on some celebrities. You can only whiten your teeth back to their natural, pre-stained shade, whatever that was. To get chalk-white teeth requires the use of porcelain veneers, which are very expensive – up to £1000 per tooth, are irreversible and may all need to be replaced after ten to twenty years. So, when it comes to your smile, taking a more natural approach can be healthier for your teeth – and your pocket.
Ageing teeth issues
Want instantly whiter-looking teeth? Just pick the right shade of lipstick! Colours with blue undertones cancel out warm tones to create the illusion of a smile that’s at least one shade lighter. Avoid orange, coral, rust and brown shades, don’t go too pale or too dark, and choose a soft matte or satin finish rather than frosted lipsticks.
Pick one of these lip colours to see your smile sparkle.
Steer clear of peachy, coppery or overly-brown hues. Go for pink or taupe tones instead.
Clinique Go Fig Dramatically Different Lipstick Shaping Lip Colour
Hydrating and plumping with light gold flecks of shimmer, this lipstick smooths lips and is long-lasting. It looks great with olive or tanned skins. £20.50 clinique.co.uk
Charlotte Tilbury My Hot Lips Lipstick in Super Cindy
Makeup artist Charlotte personally recommends this taupe nude for clients looking for the illusion of whiter teeth. The creamy formula softens and adds subtle volume to lips. £24 CharlotteTilbury.com
Green People Velvet Matte Lipstick in Berry Nude
Developed to suit all skin tones, this matte-finish lipstick is cruelty-free, nourishes your lips and the muted, natural colour lasts brilliantly. £17.00 Greenpeople.co.uk
Avoid pale frosted pinks – dated and unflattering – and neons, which make teeth look dull. Instead look for clear bright pink, fuchsia and mauve tones.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon - Night Mauves
A perfect dusty-rose with slight metallic sheen in a full-coverage lip crayon that glides on effortlessly. £22 net-a-porter.com
Clinique Dramatically Different Lipstick Shaping Lip Colour Raspberry Glaze
Pretty violet tones in a formula that promises to boost lip volume over time. £21.50 clinique.co.uk
Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick Fuchsia Flash
Not for the faint-hearted! This lasting formula packs a powerfully pigmented punch. £6.99 superdrug.com
Tips for luscious lips
Berry shades are ideal for enhancing your smile. Opt for brighter shades rather than dark purples.
Maybelline Color Sensational Made For All Lipstick in Plum For Me
Designed to suit all skin tones, this bright rose-berry shade looks pretty on everyone. £7.99 superdrug.com
Dior Addict Lip Glow Lip Balm in Berry
This sheer, subtle wash of colour is the perfect true berry, thanks to blue and violet undertones. The colour reacts to the pH in your skin so it becomes bespoke to you. £28 Boots.com
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Berry Couture
Revlon’s Berry Couture, a soft blue-based purple, has a sheer finish and keeps lips moisturised with vitamin E and avocado oil. £7.49 boots.com
MAC Cosmetics Ruby Woo
This cult shade has bright blue undertones, which, combined with the high contrast depth of colour, is guaranteed to bring out the whiteness in your teeth. Opt for Lipglass for a glossy finish or the classic Retro Matte lipstick. From £16 maccosmetics.co.uk
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Red Carpet Red
A bold, classic ruby red for Hollywood glamour that lasts. £24 charlottetilbury.com
Maybelline Color Sensational Mattes Rich Ruby
A rich ruby in a creamy, hydrating semi-matte formula that won’t dry lips or bleed into lines. £6.99 Superdrug