The quick answer to this question is no, your teeth are always prone to movement and shifting. While you may not notice it, your teeth will shift and move throughout your life. Many different factors contribute to how much they move and there are ways to reduce or prevent noticeable shifting, especially after orthodontic treatments, such as braces. Knowing why your teeth move and how to reduce movement can help you keep your beautiful smile.
What Keeps Your Teeth in Place?
Your teeth consist of many different parts. The enamel is the hard, outer layer that protects each tooth. The dentine makes up the tooth itself. The pulp is the soft tissue within the tooth that connects to nerves and the blood supply. The root of the tooth is covered by a bone-like tissue known as cementum. This cementum then connects to the periodontal ligament. This strong ligament anchors the tooth to the jawbone, holding the tooth in place. While strong, the periodontal ligament is also flexible, and this flexibility is what makes shifting possible.
Common Causes of Teeth Movement
The most common cause of significant teeth movement occurs intentionally with orthodontic treatment, such as braces. This treatment purposely moves teeth to correct conditions such as misalignments, overbites, underbites, and gaps in the teeth. While this movement is controlled during treatment, after treatment, the teeth can continue to move on their own, shifting back to their original position. But wearing a retainer can help control that backward movement.
But braces aren’t the only thing that can cause tooth movement throughout your life. Some other causes include:
- Aging – Unfortunately, there isn’t any way around this one. As you age, a condition known as physiologic mesial drift occurs. This is the natural slow drift of teeth towards the front of the dental arch throughout your life. This can often lead to overcrowding of the teeth.
- Poor Oral Hygiene – Poor oral hygiene can contribute to increased levels of bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria can weaken and damage the gums, causing them to recede and create pockets where bacteria can creep in toward the bone. Weak gums and damaged tissue can weaken the ligaments, causing teeth to shift.
- Tooth Loss – Teeth rely on pressure from the surrounding teeth to help maintain position. When you lose a tooth or have excessive gaps between teeth, that pressure isn’t there. Pressure on the teeth, such as from chewing, causes teeth to shift and move into open positions.
- Nighttime Teeth Grinding – Also known as Bruxism, nighttime teeth grinding, often a result of stress puts excessive pressure on the teeth, as well as damages the surface and gums. This pressure and damage open up the door to movement and shifting.
The answer to this is yes and no. While you can help prevent some amount of shifting throughout your life, aging and the natural shift is a little difficult to put the brakes on. The good news is, there are ways to combat significant shifting and help keep your pearly whites from moving out of place too much, especially after orthodontic treatment.
Let’s take a look at some of the different ways to help reduce the risk of shifting and keep your teeth in place.
Retainers Help Keep Your Teeth from Moving
After braces and orthodontic teeth shifting, the ligaments have been stretched and moved to a new location. Like you after a hard day at work, they naturally want to head home. When your orthodontist removes the braces, there is nothing holding your teeth in their new position and the natural response is to shift back to their original location. This is the reason your orthodontist gives you a retainer.
At SportingSmiles, we specialize in Essix and Essix Plus retainers made from molds you can create in the comfort of your own home. Because you make the mold at home, our retainers are less expensive than at your dentist.
Retainers work by locking your teeth in the new position, giving them time to adjust to the changes and settle into place. This time reduces the risk of significant shifting and helps keep your teeth in their beautiful new position. You spent so long with those braces, you don’t want to have to do it again because you let your teeth shift. Wearing your retainer after braces are essential to keep that new smile!
Teeth Grinding Guards Help Keep Teeth From Shifting
If you grind your teeth at night, you are more prone to teeth shifting. Nightguards help prevent damage to your teeth and gums from grinding and clenching. This helps to reduce damage and the risk of teeth movement. They can also help reduce headaches and jaw pain commonly associated with teeth grinding.
While night guards are available on the store shelves, these are stock made and can be bulky and uncomfortable. You can receive a custom-fitted night guard through your dentist or here with us at Sporting Smiles. With our patented self-impression kit, you can make a mold of your teeth in the comfort of your own home, without a costly dental visit. We use that mold to make your custom night guard and deliver it right to your door. Click HERE for more information.
One of the best ways to prevent tooth shifting is to practice good oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing help reduce the level of bacteria in your mouth keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Regular exams and dental cleanings with your dentist help catch teeth movement early and, if necessary, allow your dentist to put a treatment plan into place to prevent additional shifting.