Why do Teeth Shift After Braces?

teeth shifting after braces
Have you noticed your teeth shifting after braces? Don’t fret! It’s normal, but you can definitely put a stop to it!

As we age, our teeth are constantly moving, shaping, and shifting. These changes in our mouths are incremental throughout the years, but they happen…to everyone! It can be frustrating and even a bit concerning, especially if you’ve spent any amount of time correcting your beautiful smile with the help of braces or other orthodontic treatments. Seeing your once perfectly aligned teeth shifting after braces might leave you scratching your head, but we’re here to tell you it’s perfectly normal and pretty common.

Teeth on the Move – Why Our Teeth Shift After Braces and Throughout Our Lives

Regardless of whether you’ve used braces to correct your teeth’s natural alignment or not, eating, talking, sleeping, and believe it or not, even smiling and coughing contract and flex the muscles in our faces and mouths. These actions have a direct impact on the structure and function of our jaws. As these muscles develop, they can be unbalanced – for example, if someone tends to chew their food on one side of their mouth more than the other, this causes the muscles on the dominant side of the face to become stronger. In the long run, this causes uneven wear on the teeth on some teeth. Our jaws continue to grow and change, and structural issues like TMJ pain can also impact how effectively we chew, laugh, and use our jaw muscles.

How To Prevent Orthodontic Relapse- From Sarah Hornsby

While these changes in our teeth and mouths aren’t usually seen immediately, they can be dramatic over the course of time. Below are just a few of the reasons our jaws and mouths grow over the course of our lives:

  • Speaking – Our tongues push against our teeth to make certain sounds during speech. 
  • Moving our face, at all! – Sneezing, smiling, coughing, blowing our nose – all of these actions require the use of facial muscles. The more we do these things, the more it impacts the bones and structure of our face and jaw.
  • Gum Disease – Periodontitis, or gum disease, can cause our gums to become weak. Tooth shifting is a common symptom of this diagnosis.
  • Jawbone growth – As we age, our jawbone continues to grow forward and become more narrow. This can cause crowding in your lower teeth, and in turn impacts your bite. 
  • Grinding – Stress impacts a lot of facets in our lives, but for some, this manifests as grinding our teeth while sleeping. This can cause your teeth to crack and if the issue is severe, it can cause your teeth to shift.
  • Missing teeth – It happens to the best of us, but a lost tooth leaves open spaces that allow the teeth on either side to shift together. As an adult, this can quickly and drastically change the structure of our mouths.

The Solution – How to Halt Shifting Teeth

You won’t be able to completely stop your teeth from shifting as you age, but you can take steps to minimize just how much they move. If you’ve spent time with braces on, you most likely have a retainer your orthodontist fits specifically for you. Be sure to follow their recommendations for use. If they advised you to wear it every night, it’s important to do just that to help prevent the natural changes in your mouth from shifting your teeth in the direction they started in! If you’ve forgotten to wear your retainer for a few days and you notice it no longer fits correctly, or are experiencing discomfort, be sure to call us at Sunshine Smiles at 845-592-2292 as soon as possible. 

Another proactive way to keep your mouth healthy and your gorgeous smile straight are to keep up on your dental hygiene. Fight off gum disease before it has a chance to take hold by brushing twice a day, flossing, avoid smoking, and be sure to get in for regular dental checkups (we recommend every six months!), and eat a healthy diet. Adress teeth grinding as soon as possible, as the changes that grinding can cause are often more difficult to fix. 

If you notice your teeth have shifted after your braces come off, it’s best to let us know as soon as you spot the changes. We’ll get you in for an appointment and get you on a treatment plan that will get your stunning pearly whites right back where they should be! To learn more about our braces options, check out our website here. We’re here to help you smile, brighter!