Did you know that after your braces are removed, your teeth can shift? Our dentists in British Columbia offer advice on how to care for your teeth following treatment to ensure they remain straight – and that all your hard work pays off.
Can my teeth shift after braces?
Braces assist in straightening your teeth by gently guiding them into their proper positions. Once your treatment period has concluded and your braces have been removed, it's time to enjoy your straight teeth. However, keep in mind that once the braces are removed, 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 the majority of people have their wisdom teeth extracted during their adolescent years, anyone who wears braces before their wisdom teeth erupt should keep an eye out for their eruption and should have them extracted if and when they begin to crowd other teeth.
Whether a tooth is lost due to injury, decay, or another cause, it can affect the adjacent teeth as they begin to compensate and move to fill the gap. A dentist will recommend a dental implant or partial denture to prevent this from happening.
Additionally referred to as a periodontal disease, this progressive condition affects the gums, teeth, and possibly the jaw bone. As the gums recede, the foundation upon which your tooth rests recedes as well. Severe periodontal disease, on the other hand, can result in the loss of jaw bone – and teeth.
Teeth Clenching or Grinding
Also known as bruxism, this condition is most common in people who are stressed – they may clench or grind their top and bottom teeth together, which can result in 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?
While the circumstances listed above are serious threats to your straighter smile, the good news is that preventive measures can help. After investing in braces to straighten your teeth, extend the life of your investment 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.
Retainers can be fixed or removable. If your retainer is removable, it is up to you to wear it according to the prescribed schedule (which at first, will likely be all the time, except when eating, brushing or flossing). After a while, your orthodontist may advise you to discontinue wearing your retainer during the day and only at night.
Maintain Excellent Oral Health
Regardless of your age or stage of orthodontic treatment, one constant is that maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine will go a long way toward promoting oral health and preventing tooth decay, which can eat away at your teeth and cause them to lose their shape.
If decay occurs, the remaining teeth may shift to accommodate it. You can reduce your risk of tooth decay by brushing and flossing thoroughly and regularly, as well as by scheduling regular dental checkups.
We recommend visiting your dentist regularly for the first six months following the removal of your braces, and then every nine months thereafter to ensure your teeth are in the proper position – and to allow your dentist to inspect and adjust your retainer as necessary.
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 has been damaged or is no longer fitting properly as a result of insufficient wear. If your retainer is permanent, check to ensure that the wire remains in place and that none of the bonds between your teeth have broken, which could result in misalignment. Your orthodontist can repair or replace your retainer to prevent further movement of your teeth.
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.