Have you ever wondered why people with dentures look older with or without their dentures? This finding is one of the favorite subjects of cartoonists and humorists trying to make light of one of life’s unfortunate situations. There is a very good anatomical explanation for making a connection between the health your teeth and gums and facial aging. Poor dental health has a very significant negative effect on the appearance of your face. Regardless of your facial features, your smile and the condition of your teeth are one of the first features that a stranger notices when you first meet them. Discolorations, unevenness, an altered bite or missing teeth significantly detracts from the youthfulness and attractiveness of the face. Gingivitis, or gum disease, in addition to causing tooth loss leads to bone absorption of the jaw and facial bones. Loss of teeth from trauma, surgery, or extractions also has a negative effect on bone volume. The bones of the face need the forces generated by the teeth to maintain their volume.
This loss of boney volume in one of the causes of a decrease of the vertical dimension of the face (VDF) or facial height. The bones of the face serve as a scaffold for the draping of the soft tissues of the face. As this scaffold loses its height, premature drooping of the soft tissues of the face usually occurs. In some patients this can manifest as more prominent naso-labial folds, labio-mandibular folds or lines around the mouth and lower cheeks. In cases where the bone loss is uneven, it can contribute to asymmetries of the face. Non-surgical cosmetic surgery procedure such as fillers and fat injections are intended to restore this volume loss and to camouflage the soft tissue descent. Surgical procedures such as face-lift and neck-lifts can also help reverse some of the signs of facial aging caused by poor dentition. Treating the “root cause” by addressing your dentition is critical to enhancing these results and prolonging their effects. Regular dental care, orthodontia, dental Implants and gum surgery can go a long way to restoring dental health while improving the overall appearance of your face. If you feel that your dental health may be affecting your facial appearance consider consulting with both a cosmetic dentist and a Plastic Surgeon about ways to rejuvenate the face.
Robert F. Centeno M.D., F.A.C.S.
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, Fairfax, Manassas, VA