The smile is a sum of a number of features that contribute to it, either positively or negatively. One of the three major components of a healthy, beautiful smile is the lips.
Your upper and lower lips act as a frame in which your teeth are displayed and you can do your own evaluation of what YOUR lip position says about you in the mirror right now. We want to test only two lip positions and we’ll do that with the help of the letters M and E.
First, we want to determine how much tooth is visible when your lips are completely relaxed, or ‘at rest’. Let’s call this the “M” position: Say the letter “M” repetitively and then allow your lips to part gently. Take note of how much of your upper front teeth are visible. The averages for tooth display with your lips at rest according to age is:
• age 30 years, 2 to 4 mm
• age 55 years, 1 to 1.5 mm
• age 70 years, 0 to 0.5 mm
Finally, we want to determine how much tooth is visible when you smile and we’ll call this the “E” position. In front of the mirror say the letter “E” in a silly, uninhibited and exaggerated way, perhaps away from strangers! How much of your upper front teeth can you see now? Here is the average amount of tooth we would like to see on show at different stages of your life:
• age 30 years, 100% of the tooth
• age 55 years, 75% of the tooth
• age 70 years, 50%
Now you too are one step closer to becoming a cosmetic dentist! If we know these positions then we can design an age-specific smile, being either younger or older. We can match your teeth to your age or we can make you look slightly younger by changing the position of your teeth with white fillings, braces or veneers.
If you’re still in doubt that tooth reveal and lip position are important to a person’s appearance check out these images of the beautiful Helen Mirren which we manipulated to demonstrate how the different “M” and “E” positions can affect your look.