How Your Smile Changes As You Age

As you get older, your body ages. This includes your smile. A lifetime of use can result in wear and tear, such as gum recession and yellowing of the teeth. However, did you know that your teeth can also shift as you age? There are several changes that orthodontists notice in the smiles of older patients.


Believe it or not, some portions of your body continue to “grow” as you age. This is why many elderly people appear to have larger noses, ears, and prominent chins. Your lower jaw very slowly continues to grow as you age. As your lower teeth stay trapped behind your upper teeth, and the lower jaw grows forward, it causes crowding in your lower teeth. This is why so many people get crowded lower teeth as they age if they don’t wear a retainer. Your jaw bone also loses density and shrinks a bit as you age. This can lead to crowding. Habits like mouth breathing can also contribute to crowding over time.


A space between the front teeth is known as a diastema. Several factors can contribute to spacing, such as gum disease or a habit of pushing your tongue against your front teeth when you swallow. If you lose a tooth, the rest of the teeth may shift, which could result in spacing.

Relapse after prior orthodontic treatment

After undergoing orthodontic treatment, it’s necessary to wear a retainer for the rest of your life. Sometimes people stop wearing their retainers because they lose them or find it hard to stick to the habit of retainer wear. This leads to shifting of the teeth.

Less visibility of upper incisors

Thanks to gravity and the tonicity of your facial muscles, the area above the upper lip can droop as you get older, resulting in obscured upper incisors. Being treated with a technique such as Smile Arc Protection is a great option for older adults who wish to see more of their upper incisors when they smile. The Smile Arc Protection technique helps to make the upper incisors more visible so that as you age, you will continue to show upper incisors when you smile.

What you can do

  • Maintain good oral health by brushing, flossing, and seeing your general dentist regularly
  • If you have a retainer that still fits, wear it nightly
  • Consider seeing an orthodontist if you notice shifting and wish to have it fixed
  • If you don’t like how much teeth you show when you smile, find an orthodontist that focuses on esthetics and smile arc

Dr. Peterson will perform a full diagnosis for your individual case and create a treatment plan catered to your needs. He wants to create a smile that will last you a lifetime! And at Peterson Family Orthodontics, we know that braces aren’t just for kids. Many of our patients are adults. Remember that there are several options for straightening teeth. Metal braces are great, but clear braces or aligners can also work well for older adults. You can achieve a dazzling smile at any age!


Schedule your FREE consultation today!

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