Did you know that your teeth could shift again after your braces are removed? Our Collingwood dentists share advice on what you should do after orthodontic treatment to ensure your teeth stay right where you want them.
Can my teeth shift after braces?
Braces help straighten your teeth by guiding them into their desired positions. When your treatment time is complete and your braces are removed, it’s time to enjoy your straighter new smile. But, keep in mind that because the support created by the braces is no longer present, your teeth may begin to shift out of position.
Typically the small amount of shifting that is likely to occur will not likely be noticeable, but some circumstances may happen that require the attention of your dentist.
Wisdom Teeth Emerging
Though most people undergoing orthodontic treatment have their wisdom teeth removed during their teenage years, anyone who wears braces prior to the eruption of their wisdom teeth should be alert to their coming in, so they can be 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 move to fill the gap. In order to prevent this from occurring, having a dental implant or partial denture added to replace the missing tooth is a good idea.
Periodontal disease (also called gum disease) is a progressive condition that impacts the gums, teeth and potentially even the jaw bone. As gums recede, so does the foundation that your tooth is grounded in. Severe periodontal disease can even lead to deterioration of the jaw bone – and loss of teeth.
Bruxism - Teeth Clenching or Grinding
Bruxism 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 may 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 above circumstances are real threats to your new straighter smile, the good news is that preventive methods are able to help. Now that you’ve achieved great results with braces or aligners, make that work last by using these tips and tricks:
Always Wear Your Retainer as Prescribed
For most orthodontic patients, wearing a retainer is part of life after braces treatment. Wearing your retainer as prescribed is the easiest way to keep your teeth from shifting once your braces come off.
A retainer may be either fixed or removable. If you have a removable retainer, 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 dentist may say you can cut back to wearing your retainer part-time or just at night.
Maintain Excellent Oral Health
Regardless of your age 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.
A decayed tooth can cause the rest of your teeth to shift around it. You can decrease your risk of tooth decay by brushing and flossing thoroughly and regularly, and attending twice-yearly dental checkups and cleanings 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 essential to take action right away by contacting your dentist for an appointment.
Shifting may occur for a number of reasons, even if you are sticking to your treatment plan and wearing your retainer as you should.
Your retainer may be damaged, or no longer fit 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 released from your teeth, which may cause misalignment. Your dentist can repair or replace your retainer as neccessary, to ensure your teeth don’t move any further.
Another reason teeth move is because wisdom teeth are emerging. The eruption of wisdom teeth can cause all of your other teeth to shift in order to make room for them. If this is the case, a wisdom teeth extraction may be necessary.