Once your teeth have come in, they should be stable. Your wisdom teeth are the last to come in, so once you’ve dealt with any disruptions caused by them, your teeth should not be moving around.
So why does it look like your teeth are starting to get more crooked? Why are gaps beginning to appear between teeth, or teeth are rotating because they are getting crowded together? There are three common causes why this might be happening, and, fortunately, all can be addressed.
Most American adults have gum disease by the time they hit middle age. And by the time we reach 65, about 70% of us have some degree of gum disease. Gum disease damages not just your gums, but also the bones that anchor your teeth. As this happens, your teeth can get loose and can start to drift.
Gum disease has subtle symptoms at first, but by the time your teeth are moving, you should be able to detect other gum disease symptoms. You may notice receding gums, or that your gums are red, swollen, and sensitive. You might also have developed chronic bad breath that doesn’t respond to common treatments.
You will be able to tell if this is the cause if your teeth move in response to gentle pressure. All teeth have some small freedom of motion, but if you can actually tell the teeth are moving when you push them, that’s a problem.
Gum disease treatment can eliminate gum disease and help preserve your teeth. The next stage after loose teeth is lost teeth! We can treat your gum disease, then talk about ways to improve the appearance of your smile, including orthodontics or gum rejuvenation.
One tooth secret most people don’t know is that our teeth are actually supposed to move. They respond to repeated bite pressure by moving slowly to accommodate the pressure. If your bite is properly balanced, these forces keep your teeth straight, since that helps to balance the pressure of biting and chewing. But if your bite is imbalanced, teeth may drift out of place.
One of the most common situations where this comes up is if you got orthodontic treatment but stopped wearing your retainer. In this case, your teeth will naturally drift back to their previous location, which is where they naturally developed in response to your bite.
Some people have an imbalanced bite all their lives. Other people develop bite problems. One common source of bite problems is jaw trauma or whiplash. If you were in a car or motorcycle accident, even one where you didn’t strike your jaw, your drifting teeth may be related to that. This may be evident weeks, months, even years after your accident.
Bite problems can also be caused by a missing tooth you didn’t replace. This creates a space that allows your other teeth to drift. A dental implant can stop this problem.
Other times, a bite problem might be caused by a poorly fitting restoration. If you have gotten a new dental crown that doesn’t feel right, and you notice teeth movement after, the two could be related.
Your bad habits could also be causing your teeth to move. If, for example, you have a tendency to chew on nonfood objects like pens, pencils, or your fingernails, this can create adverse force that moves your teeth out of position.
Misuse of toothpicks, such as sticking them between your teeth too hard or too often, can also cause your teeth to move, creating gaps.
Also, if you live a stressful life that causes you to clench or grind your teeth, this can cause your teeth to drift. It’s important to get stress under control, and if you have a sense that it’s leading to teeth clenching, let us help you with a mouthguard that mediates the forces.
Smoking is bad for your oral health generally, and it can contribute to gum disease that leads to tooth movement.
Restoring Your Smile
Once we know why your teeth are moving, we can fix that problem. Then we can use orthodontic treatments to move your teeth back into place. We’ll match your treatment to your situation. Invisalign Express and the Inman Aligner, for example, are great for people whose teeth have lapsed after prior orthodontic treatment.