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1. — Teeth keep moving with age — So you had braces as a kid and your teeth were perfect, right? But now 10, 20 or 30 years later, your teeth have started to shift or crowd, and that Hollywood smile is getting more crooked by the day. Don’t panic, it’s totally common. “Teeth don’t stay straight forever,” says Patricia A. Simon, DDS, of Lakewood Orthodontics. “We used to eat foods from the ground, which had dirt on them. The teeth would get worn and narrowed. We are programmed for the  teeth to move forward to close the space that used to develop as you age.” While not everyone seeks treatment, a healthy majority could use orthodontic intervention as adults.

2. — Mouth breathers beware — Many people breath through their mouth most of the day, inadvertently putting their teeth at risk. It’s especially important to watch for mouth-breathing in children, because correcting effects on the developing face at a young age is easier than a lifetime of battling the side effects. “Get them in earlier and we can try to do something about it,” Simon says.

3. — Step aside, brace-face — Like everything else, braces have evolved. There are now a variety of options, from Invisalign to ceramics, so you can correct your teeth on the discreet. “Just make an appointment and we’ll find the best option for you,” Simon says.

4. — Retainers are forever — Get cozy, this is a long-term relationship. The best way to keep your pearly whites nice and straight is to use that retainer nightly. “I tell my patients that retainers are the Botox of the teeth,” Simon says, “they’ll get the kinks ”

5. — Less is more — Some patients are surprised to learn that  tooth extraction is needed to get a straight smile. Either because of age or because the jaw is small, teeth can become over-crowded (see item #1) — taking some  out can give the rest room to be moved into place. “Think about when you clean your closet,” Simon says. “Sometimes you’re lining up those shoes on the shelf and you have to take out a pair to make the rest straight.”

Dr. Patricia A. Simon is a neighbor who fixes smiles at her practice, Lakewood Orthodontics, 1809 Skillman St. Make an appointment by calling 214.826.8000 or connect with her on Facebook.

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