Even skin tone is considered a measure of youth, and the same is true of teeth. ‘As we age,’ warns Dr Marques, ‘teeth can get what’s called fluorosis – a condition that leaves white spots on individual teeth, caused by high levels of fluoride in the water, most common in hard-water areas. Peroxide will lift the overall shade of your teeth, but it can’t get rid of individual white spots as they’re caused by decalcification, not staining.’
A cutting-edge whitening treatment called Icon, around £400 per treatment, can help blitz those tell-tale white spots. It works by applying a special prepping gel, which is left on the tooth for 20 minutes, followed by a resin solution that penetrates the surface of the tooth to fill the white spot and restore and even the shade. ‘It’s like a blemish treatment for teeth,’ says Dr Marques.
For another top-of-the-range teeth-whitening treatment, try Boutique, although it can only be prescribed by a dentist. This can either be a custom-made whitening gel you wear every night for three nights, or a one-off treatment in a clinic – costing in the region of £250-£500. Most dentists now prefer to lift the shade of your teeth to a natural whiteness, rather than a bright, icy white. For stains, try EMS Airflow stain removal, which can be administered by a hygienist.
Yes, we know this sounds a rather unappetising mouthful. But laser contouring – cutting away excess gum tissue – is fast becoming an easy in-and-out tweak for those who feel their smile shows too much pink. ‘For some women, a gummy smile leaves them so self-conscious that they rarely smile in photographs,’ explains Dr Okoye.
‘The laser allows us to remove a millimetre or so of gum with ultimate precision for a better proportioned look. It’s also used to draw in an arch shape, which is considered more aesthetically pleasing.’ And the pain? ‘Discomfort is minimal and in some cases patients don’t even need a local anaesthetic.’ Laser contouring costs from £250 with Dr Uchenna Okoye at London Smiling.
Apparently, it’s not just teeth that need attention if you’re looking for the perfect smile. ‘I am increasingly referring patients to cosmetic doctors for mild facial resculpting,’ explains Dr Okoye. ‘A small amount of Botox in the jaw can reduce pronounced muscles caused by teeth grinding, and so create a softer jawline.’
Some dentists and orthodontists now administer Botox, but Dr Okoye cautions that the treatment is best left in the hands of an expert. One is Dr Michael Prager, who says a touch of Botox can also help ease a gummy smile. ‘All it takes,’ he explains, ‘is a 10-second tweak: two injections either side of the nostrils will relax the muscles that lift the top lip,’ he explains.
Another popular smile hotspot, says Dr Prager, is the crease between the bottom lip and chin. ‘As we age, this crease deepens, which can make the jawline appear square as the chin starts to get lost. A tiny bit of filler in this area lengthens the chin, to reinstate a more youthful point. It also helps lift the corners of the bottom lip, for a more cheerful smile.’