Thoughts on longer canines?


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Nov 22, 2020
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I'm almost done my 3 year journey to have my aesthetic smile I have a question for anyone who can give their 2 cents. I'm doing a natural style of teeth (Slightly rounded shape with very pointed canines and shorter laterals). Any thoughts on longer canines than normal? Not full blown vampire teeth but slightly more prominent (see pictures). Are these aesthetically attractive? Either in line with the centrals or just a little longer. I look at them and think they look great but I'm hoping to get that "you have a great smile" compliment by everybody lol
 

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honestdoc

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Esthetics can be very subjective. I find 2 spectrums in dentistry regarding esthetics. The highly esthetic focus may not necessarily translate to highly functional and durable result. In my opinion, canines are very important function wise. Since they have the longest roots, they are designed to guide your teeth as you move your teeth side to side and not have your other teeth "crash" to each other. As you get older, the canines wear down and you develop a "group function" where the canines lost their ability to guide and all the posterior teeth touch during lateral excursives. That means higher risk for back teeth to fracture.
 

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MattKW

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Agree with honestdoc. You have to be very careful that you don't change the way the teeth function, or Mother Nature will fight back, possibly leading to fracture of your aesthetic treatment (veneers, crowns), or even fracture of teeth.
 

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I 100% want function first, that's part of why I want the natural look more than a Hollywood smile. I got my braces first to line everything up and will be getting a new retainer to keep everything in place once it's all done and a good mouthguard for sports and such. So I guess I have 2 other questions.
Can longer canines be functional? Or would that have be decided by that paper bite test with my dentist.
Is slightly longer canines a common enough request that it doesn't seem to strange for me want? Or do most people not put in this much thought
 

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MattKW

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Let me answer in reverse.
  1. Canines and central incisors are normally the same length. The lateral incisors are usually shorter (pic 1). See attached: if they're the same length across all 3 teeth, they look wrong (pic 2). Bear in mind of course, this is really a cultural perception created by what evolution has dealt to us.
  2. When you slide your teeth side-to-side, you ideally want "group function", where all the teeth are in contact. This is simply spreading the forces out evenly. If you have primarily forces resting on the canines, then you have canine disclusion. With natural teeth, nearly anything can work, and I've seen some very "strange" bites sometimes.
  3. The risk comes when you make unnatural changes to the teeth, i.e. aesthetic veneers or crowns. Either the materials used may fracture (and possibly the real tooth underneath), or the new shape will not work with your jaw joints, causing TMJ issues.
  4. Braces may tidy up the appearance of your teeth, but if the final forces are not stable or evenly distributed (hardly ever), then you need retainers to hold them in place. Functionally, the braces may have your teeth in a reasonable position so that that TMJ issues are thankfully rare.
  5. If you want to see and feel what longer canines would do for you, maybe your dentist would add a simple bit of composite for you to try. I'll bet you'll be asking for the removal within 48 hours.
 

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That's super helpful thank you! I've already begun crowns and veneers with the laterals and centrals, the main purpose of the canines being done is that they might look too yellow in comparison to the 4 fronts when I smile.
My Ortho explained bite for me while we were doing the braces, that the bite is more important than the perfect straightness of the teeth. Because of that my teeth (top to bottom) are slightly off but the bite is perfect (you know what I mean) so it's better than the opposite. Even during braces, they worked with my dentist on creating adequate space for the veneers for the front 4. So I'm confident in the bite remaining correct and not destroying them.

So from what I understand, I'll keep the canines as is. I truly appreciate the info!
 

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MattKW

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OK. Keep in mind that the canines should be slightly darker than the incisors if you want a natural look. e.g. Nicole Kidman has natural teeth, and perhaps they've been bleached slightly but you can still see the slightly darker canines. Mel Gibson has had some startling crowns placed which are so reflective and white that I think they're overdone. But to each their own!
 

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