Did you know that your teeth can shift after your braces are removed? Our Village Orthodontics orthodontists provide advice on what you should do after treatment to ensure your teeth remain straight – and that all your hard work pays off.
Can my teeth shift after braces?
Braces help straighten your teeth by guiding them into the correct positions. When your treatment time is up and your braces are removed, it’s time to enjoy your straight teeth. But, keep in mind that because the barrier created by the braces is no longer present, your teeth may begin to shift out of position.
While typically any shifting of teeth will not be noticeable, some circumstances may happen that require the attention of your orthodontist.
Wisdom Teeth Emerging
Though most people have their wisdom teeth extracted during their adolescence, anyone who wears braces prior to the eruption of their wisdom teeth should keep an eye out for them and have them extracted if and when they begin to crowd other teeth.
Whether a tooth is lost as a result of injury, decay or another cause, it can impact the teeth around it as they begin to compensate and move to fill the gap. To prevent this from happening, an orthodontist will recommend a dental implant or partial denture.
This progressive condition, also known as periodontal disease, affects the gums, teeth, and possibly even the jaw bone. As your gums recede, so does the foundation on which your tooth is built. Severe periodontal disease can even result in tooth and jaw bone loss.
Teeth Clenching or Grinding
This condition, also known as bruxism, typically affects people who are stressed; they may clench or grind their top and bottom teeth together, which can lead to gum recession.
Less gum tissue means the teeth will not be as secure as they were before, which can leave them more susceptible to movement.
How can I protect my teeth after braces?
Though the situations mentioned above are real threats to your straighter smile, the good news is that preventive measures can help. Now that you've made the investment in straightening your teeth with braces, make it last by following these tips and tricks:
Wear Your Retainer as Prescribed
For most patients, wearing a retainer is part of life after braces. Wearing your retainer regularly as prescribed is the easiest way to keep your teeth from shifting after your braces come off.
Fixed or removable retainers are available. If your retainer is removable, it is your responsibility to wear it as directed (which at first, will likely be all the time, except when eating, brushing or flossing). After a while, your orthodontist may advise you to wear your retainer only at night.
Maintain Excellent Oral Health
No matter what age you are or what stage of orthodontic treatment you are at, one constant is that maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine will go a long way to promoting oral health and preventing tooth decay, which can eat away at your teeth and damage their shape.
If decay occurs, the rest of your teeth may shift around it. You can decrease your risk of tooth decay by brushing and flossing thoroughly and regularly and attending regular dental checkups to help keep your teeth healthy.
We recommend seeing your orthodontist every 6 months for the first 6 months after getting your braces off, and then every 9 months after that to help ensure your teeth are where they need to be and to give your orthodontist a chance to inspect your retainer and make any necessary adjustments.
Take Action If Your Teeth Shift
If you notice your teeth are shifting, it’s important to take action right away by contacting your orthodontist for an appointment.
The shift may be occurring for a number of reasons, even if you are sticking to your treatment plan and wearing your retainer as you should.
Perhaps your retainer is damaged, or no longer fits properly as a result of not wearing it enough. If your retainer is permanent, ensure the wire stays in place and that none of the bonds have been released from your teeth, which may cause misalignment. Your orthodontist can repair or replace your retainer, to ensure your teeth don’t move any further.
Another reason teeth move is that wisdom teeth are emerging, which can cause all your teeth to shift to make room for them. If this is the case, the wisdom teeth will need to be extracted.