Age-Proof Your Smile

PHOTO: Your teeth can make you look older or younger, depending on how well you care for them.
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When you meet someone, one of the first things you notice is their smile. "Teeth are the brightest, most visual feature on your face," says Michael Apa, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist in New York City. Or at least they should be. Your choppers can make you look older or younger, depending on how well you care for them. Here are the most common age-related dental issues and how to deal with them.

What Your Smile Says About Your Health

Shifting Teeth

Teeth have memory in their fibers, so the minute you get your braces off, the little buggers will try to make a beeline for their original spots, according to Arthur Glosman, D.D.S., a dentist and cosmetic dental surgeon in Beverly Hills. And don't think you're off the hook if your teeth are naturally straight: Fillings and crowns can cause crowding, and chewing and clenching wear down teeth over time, making them smaller and creating gaps--and anytime there's a gap, teeth will move or even overlap to fill the space.

You can't prevent shifty teeth, unless you're willing to wear a retainer or mouth guard every night for the rest of your life. Brushing and flossing can help ward off cavities and the need for fillings, but all teeth shift over time. If yours have become crazy-crooked, ask your dentist about Invisalign, clear aligners you wear day and night (except when eating, brushing, or flossing) for about a year. It's no bargain at $5,000, but most insurance companies offer partial coverage.

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More from Women's Health:

Dental Problems Solved!

15 Ways to Whiter Teeth

What Your Dentists Wishes You Knew

A Teeth Whitening System That Is Right For You

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