Your wedding will be the most photographed day of your life, so don’t let your teeth stop you grinning
Words by Sarah Gillespie
You might have said no to braces when you were younger, or chipped a tooth on a night out, or maybe you’re just guilty of not taking the best care of your teeth. Dentophobia (fear of the dentist) also prevents lots of us from getting the recommended six-monthly check-ups. Whatever the reason, if you’re dreading explaining to your photographer why you don’t want to open your mouth when you smile, perhaps it’s time to consider cosmetic dentistry and get yourself an aisle-worthy smile.
THE SWING OF THINGS
As soon as your mum stops keeping a beady eye on your tooth-brushing routine and no longer drags you kicking and screaming to your check-ups, the temptation to let things slide can be hard to resist, especially during student years when a white filling costs the same as four nights out. As your wedding approaches, getting into a good routine of brushing twice a day, flossing and using a decent mouthwash, and visiting the dentist regularly should make a difference. If you’re looking to get anything more extensive done, make sure you leave yourself enough time to complete the treatment. “Braces and realignment need anything from weeks to months, while teeth whitening should ideally be done at least a month before,” advises Dr Patricia Barry-Murphy, co-founder and principal dentist of Vita Dental Spa (vitadentalspa.co.uk).
Veneers are the most common request I get from people about to get married, but I always ask them to consider other treatment options
ALL WHITE ON THE DAY
It’s important to point out that since October 2012, it has been illegal for anyone other than GDC-registered dentists or hygienists to offer whitening treatments. This means that any deals you see in hairdressers or beauty salons will be at best the at-home-style treatments that have only minimal amounts of hydrogen peroxide in them (less than 0.1%). At worst, it means that someone untrained and unlicensed will be administering full-strength bleach to your teeth.
“Don’t gamble with your health for the sake of saving a few pounds,” says Colin Gardner, clinical director and principal dentist at Botanics Dental Care (botanicsdentalcare.co.uk). “Without accurate impressions taken by a fully trained professional, the whitening trays will not fit properly and some of the whitening product may leak onto the gum tissue and cause damage.”
The popularity of branded whitening strips that are only available in America has led to a burgeoning import market on eBay in the UK, but be aware that some may be counterfeits that could do lasting damage to your teeth. “Lots of at-home products like these strips look as if they work because of the temporary whitening effect of having your mouth open for 30 to 45 minutes – it dehydrates the tooth,” explains Dr Barry Murphy.
There has been an increase in the number of brides and grooms choosing remedial orthodontics before their big day. For some, it’s needed because they didn’t have braces when they were younger, or their teeth have moved in the years since (it used to be that after braces were removed, patients were advised to keep their retainers on for 12 to 18 months; now orthodontists advise occasional use for the rest of the patient’s life). But if you’re worrying about a mouth full of metal with traditional ‘train track’ braces, fear not: alternative products are subtle yet effective. “Our practice offers Six Month Smiles,” says Colin. “These are invisible braces that take between four and nine months to complete the job, making them an extremely popular treatment for adults.”
Looking good on your big day is important, but healthy teeth and gums and regular visits to the dentist can also save your life. “Good oral health leads to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke and a better chance of oral cancer being detected early,” explains Colin. “It should help you both share a long, healthy and happy life together.”