Teeth Shifting? Why It’s Happening and What You Can Do?

Although you may not think so, your teeth can continue to change positions after your younger years. We tend to associate shifting teeth with adolescence, but it’s an issue that can stick with us up until old age.

Straight teeth are considered ideal when it comes to an attractive smile, but just because you have straight teeth now doesn’t mean bad habits or unavoidable events can’t impact the appearance of your smile over time.

If you have noticed changes to your dentition, it’s important to prevent them now before gaps, crooked teeth and a poor bite begin to make an appearance in your smile. Although most issues with shifting teeth can be corrected using accelerated adult orthodontics or cosmetic treatments, the most effective way to maintain your straight teeth is to avoid these common causes.

What Causes Teeth to Shift?

1. Your lower jaw never stops growing!

This is perhaps one of the most surprising reasons, but believe it or not, your lower jaw (mandible) continues to grow forward throughout life. This forward growth, although very slow and small in magnitude, results in your lower front teeth bumping into the upper front teeth from behind causing either your upper front teeth to space out or your lower front teeth to get crowded (crooked). All of this happens of course if no retainers are being used (more on that later). What does this mean for you? If you have (or had) a gap between your upper front teeth, you should expect it to get larger over time and if your lower front teeth are crowded, you should expect the crowding to get worse over time!

2. Your lower jaw width shrinks over time

The lower jaw gets smaller in width over the years, especially between the lower canines. This, as a result, causes your lower front teeth to be more crowded over time as well.

3. Grinding and tooth wear

Grinding (gnashing or clenching) your teeth (bruxism) is a destructive process that causes excessive tooth wear and may also result in damage to tissues surrounding your teeth. The result is shorter teeth, bite changes and in severe cases, facial changes as well.

4. Dental procedures and tooth loss

Teeth also continue to grow throughout life. If one of your teeth is removed, the teeth next to it and opposite to it will shift into the space created. For example, if your lower first molar is removed, your upper first molar may start “dropping” into the space and your lower second molar may start shifting forward.

5. Periodontal disease and bone loss

Periodontal disease refers to the inflammation (and infection) of tissues surrounding teeth especially bone and gum tissue. The result is bone loss over teeth which means less support for your teeth. Teeth shifting (and mobility) is a common consequence and often causes gaps (spaces) to open up between your teeth.

6. Aging

Teeth are enveloped by lips and cheeks on the outside and your tongue on the inside. Generally speaking, aging makes lips tighter and this means more pressure on your teeth from the outside. The result? more crowding!

Interestingly, lip aging affects your smile as well, which is why you show less upper front teeth and lower front teeth when you smile as you get older!

7. Orthodontic treatment

Teeth are most stable where they currently are. Moving teeth orthodontically with braces or Invisalign may place teeth is a less stable position. This is why teeth are more prone to shifting immediately after finishing orthodontic treatment. This is what makes retainers so important!

what can I do to stop my teeth shifting?

1. Keep your mouth and teeth healthy

Regular visits to your dentists and getting the treatment(s) recommended is a great start. Maintaining your oral health minimizes the chances of periodontal disease and tooth loss.

2. Address any bite problems or chronic grinding

Grinding your teeth is not a trivial matter and should be addressed promptly. While there may not be a cure but there are certainly ways to protect your teeth from the harmful effects of grinding; for example, nightguards are effective in preventing tooth wear.

3. Orthodontic treatment

It is important to understand that an issue with your teeth position will never resolve itself, will never get better and will probably get worse over time. Any amount of dental crowding or spacing that you notice is quite significant and should be addressed as soon as feasible. Adult orthodontics is getting more popular especially with more discreet treatment options such as Invisalign and ceramic braces. Keep in mind that correcting a minor issue is easier, faster and less costly than addressing a more complex issue, so if we know for a fact that any existing condition will only get worse over time, then waiting and procrastinating on orthodontic treatment does not make much sense! The solution to your problem may be a lot easier and less involved than you think. Call us or book your complimentary consultation online. We are confident we can offer you a solution that fits your budget and lifestyle.

4. Retainers, retainers, retainers!

It is impossible to overstate this, but retainers are the best way to prevent teeth from shifting! Retainers come in different designs and forms but the one thing in common is that they should be worn for life! Unrealistic and annoying? maybe, but it’s a small price to pay to maintain a beautiful smile for life!




We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.