Did you know that after your dental braces are removed, your teeth can shift? Our Grande Prairie dentists advise you on what you should do after treatment to ensure that your teeth stay straight – and that all of your hard work pays off.
Can my teeth shift after braces?
Braces assist in straightening your teeth by guiding them into the proper positions. When your treatment period has ended and your braces have been removed, it's time to enjoy your new, straight teeth. However, because the barrier created by the braces is no longer present, your teeth may begin to shift out of place.
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 removed during their teenage years, anyone who wears braces prior to 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.
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.
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 cause jaw bone – and tooth – loss.
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 can I protect my teeth after braces?
Though the situations listed 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.
The retainer can be permanently attached or removable. 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 visiting your dentist on a regular basis for the first 6 months after you remove your braces, and then 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 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 has been damaged or no longer fits properly as a result of not wearing it frequently enough. If your retainer is permanent, make sure the wire is secure and that no bonds have been released from your teeth, which could lead to misalignment. To ensure that your teeth do not move any further, your orthodontist can repair or replace your retainer.
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.