This is another common question that I hear in my office. Before we answer this question let’s describe the situation that is being explored. All of our teeth are embedded in the gums and most teeth are usually in a general range of width and length. Depending on the amount of gum tissue present will determine how “long” or “short” the tooth is. This can be seen by pulling the lip up to expose the teeth and their appearance. That portion that is covered can be anywhere from two thirds to three quarters of the tooth in a normal healthy individual.
In addition to the gums covering a portion of the tooth, your lips hide your visible tooth also. By visible tooth, I mean the part of the tooth that sticks above the gum. Depending on the length of the tooth and lip will determine how much tooth shows when others see you. This amount also varies when you are at rest with your lips at rest or whether you just heard some good news and are smiling ear to ear. Your lips and muscles of the face will go up and down showing more or less teeth.
In the younger years after the teeth have first come into the mouth. The teeth are at their full length and the facial muscles and lips are very tight. When we talk we see the lowest edges of our upper teeth and when we laugh we see the entire tooth. We may possible see some pink gum as we laugh also.
As the years go on and we use our teeth, they wear down making them shorter. This means that there is less to be seen under the upper lip. So now when we talk we see a fraction of the tooth that we once saw a few decades ealier. Those people who’s upper front teeth do not overlap the lower teeth, but rather meet the lower front teeth directly get more wear and even a shorter tooth. Besides the teeth wearing down, gravity and lack of exercise of the facial muscles cause the mouth to droop and therefore, the upper lip covers more tooth to the point that it is not visible at all.
So you see that showing tooth and gums is a sign of youth, while showing no teeth at all is a sign of advancing in life. When people don’t show teeth for years, they get used to the look and don’t want to show any more teeth. They think that showing teeth looks artificial. Nothing could further from the truth. Showing teeth and gums is a sign of youth. We wear nice clothing, color our hair, wear the latest fashions to look younger, tooth length should not be any different. If you can have this youthful smile then why not?
In the area of dentures, we see this a lot. A patient comes in showing no teeth and that’s what they want to see. With a denture, I can position the front teeth to show as little or as much as I want. I can even move them while you are at your appointment before the denture is finished so you get to see a very individual and customized smile. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can only advise on what looks natural. You have the ultimate control over how much tooth shows or not. Old crowns or dentures wear can wear down also giving you a shorter or “lack of tooth” look. When new dentures or crowns are made, I have many ways to control how much or little of your teeth show. If you would like to discuss or explore your teeth showing possibilities, please feel free to call me at 440.951.7856 I enjoy talking to each and every one of you.
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