A smile lights up a room, it makes us believe the person is friendly, kind and confident. Compare Kate Middleton’s broad open smile with Victoria Beckham’s posh pout – which would you rather have? While Victoria has admitted that she used to hate her teeth, having them fixed doesn’t seem to have changed her habit of avoiding smiling. So if you have the same phobia thinking your crooked yellow fangs are more of an eyesore than a friendly gesture, don’t despair as there is a lot you can do to improve and ensure the health of your smile.
Dr Uchenna Okoye of the London Smiling Dentistry Group and Channel 4’s 10 Years Younger shares with us the best ways to maintain the perfect teeth and how she is trying to change the way we view dentistry. But the first thing she has to conquer is people’s fear of the dentist.
‘All the reality TV shows and people travelling more have altered how people feel about dentistry,’ Uchenna says, ‘but it is still a battle getting people to see dentistry as beauty. I have people that are petrified about coming to the dentist but will happily have a Brazilian wax – believe me there is nothing that I can do to you that will hurt as much! Dentistry it is still associated with drill, fill, pain and bad smells. In the States they are very much into the spa concierge experience in medicine and I wanted to transfer that experience here. ‘
‘My practice is like a spa – people often ask when they walk is ‘Is this the dentists?’ It doesn’t smell like a traditional dental office. We have scented candles and aromatherapy – my inspiration was the spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I wanted it to be coccoony and warm as opposed to stark and clinical.
‘Dentistry can make a huge difference to the way you look – particularly as an anti-aging treatment. The reality is first impressions count and the way you look does matter and the most aging part of your face is the lower third and that is why teeth are so important.
‘It is not just whitening but your teeth also support your mouth and jawline and it is not just that but also the confidence of having good teeth as people meet your smile first. So if you are self conscious about your teeth, it will have a very noticeable effect.
‘The most common problem I see in women are the colour of their teeth and gum disease which is so common now.
‘There are also a lot of developments in dentistry that will revolutionise the experience such as numbing without injection – an inhalation that will numb the gums. Implants and growing teeth are moving forward so that very soon no one will wear dentures.’
Uchenna’s interest in all things modern dentistry means that she is now teaching the American’s the latest techniques in cosmetic dentistry. ‘We are teaching them to be subtle, to work in harmony with the face.’
‘As you treat people it is like seeing an evolving butterfly. Suddenly they change their hair and they are wearing bright red lipstick – it is just wonderful,’ Uchenna says.
Here are Uchenna’s top tips to look after your smile:
- Fizzy drinks aren’t good for your teeth so if you want to enjoy them, use a straw.
- Chew sugar-free gum but only for as long as the flavour lasts or it can create chips and cracks in your teeth.
- Work with your dentist to create a mouth fitness for you and see your hygienist every three months.
- Stay away from sugar
- Floss! Is so important as the majority of cavities that people tend to get are between their teeth.
- Invest in a good electric toothbrush, it is the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a dustpan and brush
- Brush your teeth before eating not after as sugary foods and drink can soften enamel and then you are brushing your enamel away. The fluoride in the toothpaste then protects your teeth.
[picture credits: Melissa Segal]