Can my teeth move after braces?
You invested a year or more of your life – not to mention thousands of dollars – to get the celebrity straight smile of your dreams. But now you’re looking in the mirror and noticing small, incremental changes in the way your smile looks. What gives? Is it possible for teeth to move after braces?
The bad news is yes – teeth can move after braces. But the good news is that there’s a lot you can do to prevent your teeth from moving after your braces treatment.
Why do teeth move after braces?
Like every other part of your body, your mouth is constantly changing. Cells are turning over, bones are repairing themselves, and, of course, wear and tear is taking its toll, too. Whether or not you’ve had braces, your teeth will move and shift as you age.
Teeth move after braces for a variety of reasons. The ligaments that hold the teeth to the jawbone are elastic, sort of like rubber bands. They hold the teeth in the mouth, but they don’t hold them firmly in position. So when outside forces like like chewing or teeth grinding put pressure on your teeth, there’s only that elastic ligament to hold them in place. Over time, these small movements can push teeth ever so slightly around in the mouth. Age-related changes in the mouth can also cause the teeth to move.
3 Ways to prevent your teeth from moving after braces
If you want to preserve your straight smile and your investment in your smile, there are plenty of ways you can do that. Here are three effective methods for keeping your teeth in place after you get your braces off.
- Wear your retainer. After you get your braces off, your orthodontist will give you a retainer to wear to keep your teeth from shifting. Retainers can be either removable or permanent. A permanent retainer is affixed behind your teeth, so you don’t have to worry about taking it in and out. A removable retainer is usually worn all day at night at first, but eventually you’ll graduate to wearing it only at night. It is recommended to wear your retainer at night indefinitely to keep your teeth from moving from their preferred positions.
- Watch out for wisdom teeth. If you notice that your teeth are moving after braces even though you’re wearing your retainer, it could be that your wisdom teeth are coming in and pushing everything else out of alignment. Wisdom teeth can be such bullies! If you notice that your teeth are moving, see your orthodontist right away. The sooner your wisdom teeth are dealt with, the less damage they can do. Left unchecked, wisdom teeth pushing their way in can undo all the work your braces have done.
- Keep your mouth healthy. One of the main reasons that teeth move with age is damage and disease of the teeth and gums. Gingivitis can lead to gum loss and eventually bone loss, which allows the teeth greater space and freedom to move around. Tooth decay can change the shape of the teeth, causing them to shift and adjust their positions when cavities and decay eat away at parts of the teeth. Brush, floss and see your dentist regularly to keep your teeth healthy.
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