Unmask that smile and align it with your best features

There have been many lessons to learn from the pandemic – one of the most important being how often we used to overlook the value of a simple smile.

Usually, a smile is the first thing noticed on a person when you take in their face. Widely considered to be a window to our soul, a smile emanates warmth and approachability, and the facilitator of conversation. A pretty smile is not just nice to look at though – a glistening smile generally means rosy cheeks and bright eyes – which are all signs of good health, vigour and youthfulness.

Yet, just like the rest of our body, our smile changes over time. As an aesthetic dental surgeon and facial aesthetic practitioner, Dr Sheryl Smithies loves nothing more than to craft a striking smile. As one of Cape Town’s top specialists she shares her three top tips to ensure your smile is always healthy, picture-perfect, and beautifully complements your facial features.

Three ways to align your smile with your facial features

1. Smile wide to create symmetry 

She has seen so many patients feel ashamed to smile properly because they are unhappy with their teeth.  Not opening the lips when smiling might seem like the best solution to conceal discoloured or crooked teeth, but this does more harm. A closed mouth pulls other facial muscles into a different position and after a while, this can make the face look unnatural and cartoon-like.

Although no one has a perfectly symmetrical face, by parting the lips and showing your teeth when smiling, you automatically create the illusion that your face is symmetrical. Ideally you want to reveal at least 3mm or more of front teeth when you smile to create proportionality in the face. If you feel embarrassed by the condition of your teeth, then start with a gentle and thorough cleansing regime – incorporating good dental hygiene and teeth whitening practices if necessary.

2. Jaws Jaws Jaws 

The positioning, size and shape of your top and bottom jaws will affect the overall look of your smile.  In general, if your jaws are too inwards, you’ll have a small, dark smile but if your jaws are too far forward and down, you’ll have a very large and gummy type of smile.

The positioning of your jaws also plays a big role in how your face presents itself, as it affects how far forward or back you chin is and whether your nose tip goes down or up for example. Straightening your jaws will help straighten your teeth and improve your smile.  In some cases it can also improve the way you bite and chew food. Chat to your dentist about any concerns and consider bonding or veneers to bring back a youthful jaw shape over time.

3. Maintain a natural youthful appearance

Our bone, skin, gums, and teeth all age as we do, and over time this changes our facial structure and alters our smile. As we get older, our skin gets smaller, looser, and thinner which causes our teeth to become weaker, move and become more crooked. Our gums also move and, in some cases, even shrink which can cause recession. The good news though is that there are many ways we can slow the aging process around the mouth.

Facial fillers can help make our bone structure appear to stay in the same youthful shape, while tooth alignment can straighten the teeth and prevent movement. A simple gum surgery can be performed to bring these forwards (within reason), while the upper lip, which tends to droop as we age, can be lifted with another simple surgery. There are also plenty of antiaging dental treatments on the market, including peels, fillers, toxins, and threads and in the most extreme, cases, a smile rehabilitation can be done using bonding or porcelain veneers to create an entirely new smile.

Smiling is so important. As well as being highly contagious, a smile can make a person feel more attractive, positive and happy. Research has also shown that smiling helps you live longer and can even reduce stress and blood pressure levels.  The path to the perfect smile starts with good dental hygiene and understanding how your smile can enhance your existing facial features.