Not many patients are aware that their teeth can shift after having braces taken off. Our Antigonish dentists provide advice on what you can do after treatment to ensure your teeth remain straight.
How teeth can shift after braces
Braces help straighten your teeth by guiding them into correct positions. When your treatment is over 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.
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, a dentist will recommend a dental implant or partial denture.
Also known as periodontal disease, this progressive condition impacts the gums, teeth and potentially even the jaw bone. As gums recede, so does the foundation your tooth is grounded in. Severe periodontal disease can even lead to loss of jaw bone – and teeth.
Wisdom Teeth Emerging
Though most people have their wisdom teeth removed during their teenage years, anyone who wears braces before the eruption of their wisdom teeth should watch for them coming in, so they can be extracted if and when they begin to crowd other teeth.
Teeth Clenching or Grinding
Also referred to as bruxism, this condition typically affects people who are feeling stressed – they may clench their top and bottom teeth together or grind them, 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 to protect your teeth after braces
Though the above circumstances are real threats to your straighter smile, the good news is that preventive methods can help. Now that you’ve invested in straightening your teeth with braces, make that work last by using 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.
The retainer may be either fixed or removable. If your retainer is removable, it will be up to you to wear it as prescribed (which at first, will likely be all the time, except when eating, brushing or flossing). After a while, your orthodontist may say you can cut back to wearing your retainer just 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.
During the first 6 months after you get your braces off, we recommend visiting your dentist regularly, and every 9 months after that, to help ensure your teeth are where they need to be– and to give your dentist a chance to inspect your retainer and make any required 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 several 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.