The Science Behind Teeth Movement

The Science Behind Teeth Movement

Many people experience a moment where they notice something new about their physical appearance. This is especially true with teeth. You could smile at yourself in the mirror and realize that things are different than they were last time you checked. "Was that gap always there?" "Were my teeth always this crowded?" "Why are my teeth shifting?" 

Teeth shifting in adults is common, but why does it happen? This article will focus on the science of teeth movement and provide some tips on how to prevent your teeth from shifting in the future. 

Why Do Teeth Move? [list]

Why Do Teeth Move?

Most people experience teeth movement throughout their childhood and teenage years. Their faces change at a rapid rate as they grow new teeth and lose others, making way for adult teeth. Many teenagers receive orthodontic treatment and experience major tooth movement as a result. When the braces come off, many people think their teeth are going to be perfect for the rest of their lives. While you can take measures to prevent teeth movement, the truth is that your teeth will keep moving throughout your adult life. 

So what exactly causes teeth to shift? There could be several factors contributing to your adult tooth movement. Here are some common reasons why your teeth might be shifting so you can take the first step toward knowing how to prevent or reverse it. 

Gum Disease

Your teeth are more than what you see when you smile at yourself in the mirror. Teeth extend past the gum line. They have roots that connect to the bones of your jaw by periodontal ligaments. These ligaments keep your teeth in your mouth while allowing slight movement. If these ligaments and bones become unhealthy, however, you could experience major teeth movement. 

That's why gum disease, or periodontal disease, can lead to teeth shifting in your mouth. Gum disease affects the hidden bones and ligaments below the gum line. If your periodontal ligaments start deteriorating, your teeth will move in their sockets with ease. It could even lead to tooth loss, which will only make the issue worse. 

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

When you rub your teeth together or apply pressure to the molars on either side of your mouth, you are raising your chances of tooth movement. The official name of this condition is bruxism, and it occurs in up to 10% of the population. Bruxism is a common condition that can develop as a stress response. Many people grind their teeth during the most trying situations without even realizing it. It can even occur in your sleep, leading to headaches and jaw pain in the morning. 

If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, then you're putting a great amount of pressure on your teeth. This pressure can lead to uneven tooth movement in your mouth. You could experience crowding or shifting on the side of your mouth that you most often grind or clench. Grinding your teeth can also lead to enamel breakdown, potentially resulting in other dental health issues including cavities. 

Changes in the Jaw Bone

You might remember coming back from summer break in elementary school and seeing how much your friends had changed over the summer. Children grow rapidly, and that includes their faces and jaw structure. But it keeps going from there. People's jaw bones continue to change throughout adulthood, which leads to teeth movement. 

As you get older, your lower jaw grows forward and becomes narrower. This affects tooth movement in a couple of ways. First, the forward growth will change your natural bite. Your lower teeth could put more pressure on your upper teeth, leading to gaps and shifting in your upper front teeth. Second, a narrower jaw means less room for your teeth. That's why you could be noticing crowding in your lower front teeth as the years go by. 

Tooth Loss

People experience tooth loss throughout life. Many factors contribute to tooth loss, including injuries, gum disease, dental decay and nutritional deficiencies. Losing teeth increases a person's risk for shifting teeth. Gaps in your teeth are the first result of tooth loss, but teeth movement is quick to follow. 

If you've lost one tooth or several, then your teeth will take advantage of that extra space and shift to fill it. This creates gaps in your teeth as they move and spread apart. It may seem hopeless, but losing teeth does not have to guarantee tooth movement. Like many of the causes of tooth movement in this list, you can prevent teeth moving after losing a tooth. We'll take a closer look at that later. 

Lip and Mouth Aging

It should come as no surprise that your chance of experiencing tooth movement increases as you age. Even if you practice great dental hygiene throughout your life, the passing years have a cumulative effect on your teeth. Your gums can recede, and your periodontal ligaments can deteriorate. Your teeth can also decay. As you increase in age, the slow progression of these issues could become more noticeable in the form of tooth movement. 

Another result of getting older that can contribute to tooth movement is a tightening of the lips. As your lips tighten, they exert pressure on your front teeth. This can cause them to shift. As the years go by, you may notice your lower lip gets especially smaller. When you smile, you may see your lower teeth more than you used to. This is evidence of your lips tightening, and it could cause your lower teeth to experience greater movement than your upper front teeth. 

Orthodontic Treatment

Your teeth are at their most stable positions where they naturally grow. Even if your teeth grow crooked, they're secure where they are. While orthodontic treatment can move the teeth into a more desirable position, the teeth do become more prone to movement. That means once you remove the braces or aligners, if you do nothing else, your teeth will likely move back toward their original places over time.

Improper dental care can also leave your teeth unstable throughout the orthodontic process. If you choose to straighten your teeth with the help of an orthodontist, you increase your chances of unwanted teeth movement once treatment is over. With proper precautions, however, you can reduce this risk and keep your teeth where you want them. 

Neglecting Retainers

When people finish with their braces or clear aligner trays, their teeth will stay straight forever, right? Many people know all too well that this belief is incorrect. People around the world who have worn braces or aligners experience shifting teeth in the months or years after their orthodontic treatment. This is discouraging, especially after spending all that time and money straightening their teeth. 

Most of the time, teeth shifting after orthodontic treatment is a result of not wearing retainers. Orthodontists give their patients retainers after treatment to ensure their teeth stay in their new positions. Since your teeth are at a heightened risk of shifting during and after orthodontic treatment, aligners keep your teeth in their new, yet vulnerable, positions. Forgetting or deciding not to wear your retainers is a one-way ticket to shifting teeth. 

How to Prevent Future Tooth Movement

Everyone wants to have a smile they can be confident in. Tooth movement can cause a decrease in confidence and self-esteem in anyone, especially adults. Is there any hope if you've experienced tooth movement as an adult? Are you experiencing tooth movement now or trying to avoid it in the future? Find some encouragement knowing you can take action to reduce how much your teeth move. The next sections will go over some tips and advice on how to stop teeth from moving and shifting. 

Taking care of your teeth and gums can help fight against gum disease

Keep Your Teeth and Gums Clean

The first step in protecting your teeth from many issues is proper dental care. Taking good care of your teeth can even fight against tooth movement. That's because taking care of your teeth and gums can help fight against gum disease, which is a leading contributor to tooth movement and tooth loss. Cleaning below the gum line will take some extra effort, but it will go a long way in resisting the negative effects of gum disease. 

If you've slacked off in recent times, it's never too late to recommit to dental hygiene. With some dedication, you can get into the habit of great dental practices. This includes brushing, flossing and using mouthwash on a regular basis. Flossing is crucial as this is your best way of cleaning below the gum line. Mouthwash is an additional source for killing and removing unwanted bacteria.

Protect Your Teeth From Grinding and Clenching

Are you among the 10% of people who suffer from bruxism? If so, then your teeth are at a high risk of shifting. You'll have to take measures to limit the damage caused by grinding or clenching your teeth. 

One of the best ways to resist the negative effects of bruxism is to ask your dentist about a mouth guard. Wearing a mouth guard when you sleep can help protect your teeth from wearing out and shifting. This could even solve your problem of waking up with headaches or jaw pain. You can also try using your mouth guard during times of day when you find yourself grinding your teeth. Another trick is to try to distract yourself from grinding your teeth by eating crunchy snacks or chewing gum.

Wear Your Retainer

Now that you know how vulnerable your teeth are to shifting after receiving orthodontic treatment, you should consider making a commitment to wearing your retainer as directed. If your retainer has been sitting in your bathroom cabinet unused for a few months, then it's time to start wearing it again. This is one of the best things you can to do resist shifting teeth after wearing braces or aligners. Plus, it will ensure the hard-earned money used to straighten your teeth was well-spent.

You should try to wear your retainer for life. This is the best way to keep your teeth straight in the years following your orthodontal treatment. But, no matter how clean you keep your mouth, it can harbor harmful bacteria. This bacteria can move to your retainer, giving it an unpleasant aroma. You may even see funk building up, which is not ideal. Is there a way to keep your retainer clean so you can feel good about using it? 

The Best Ways to Keep Your Retainer Clean

Here are some of the best ways to keep your retainer clean so you can wear it with confidence:

WhiteFoam freshens your breath and whitens your teeth while you wear your retainers.

  • WhiteFoam: WhiteFoam by Eversmile will help keep your retainer clean. WhiteFoam is especially for clear aligners and retainers, but it can benefit your standard removable retainer as well. Pump a small amount of the hydrogen peroxide-based solution into your clear aligner trays and reinsert them over your teeth. The WhiteFoam will clean your retainer trays as you wear them while freshening your breath and whitening your teeth. For extra cleaning power, you can soak your retainer in WhiteFoam to get rid of the most stubborn funk. 
  • AlignerFresh: If you want to keep your retainer clean when you're on-the-go, then AlignerFresh by EverSmile is the product for you. It offers similar cleaning power as WhiteFoam in a convenient, portable spray bottle. When you want to experience a minty-fresh confidence boost, give your clear aligners or retainers a quick spray. The AlignerFresh will get to work as you wear your retainers to keep them clean and fresh for any situation life throws at you. 
  • Soap and water: Giving your retainers a soak in lukewarm water and gentle dish soap is a good way to remove harmful bacteria and unpleasant odors. Make sure to stay away from hot water since it can warp the plastic of your retainers. You should also avoid brushing your retainers with toothpaste, as this can result in scratches. These scratches can make your clear retainers more visible and give bacteria more surface area to cling to.

Keep your teeth straight and your retains clean with EverSmile products.

Keep Your Teeth Straight and Your Retainers Clean With EverSmile Products

EverSmile specializes in products that help people approach their dental hygiene in a whole new way. Our founder was a leading Invisalign provider when he had a realization. His patients were desperate for a new product to help them keep their aligners and retainers clean. He then created WhiteFoam by EverSmile for that exact purpose. Now we have a list of EverSmile products available that can help you achieve your goals of better dental hygiene. 

You're more likely to wear your retainer if it's clean and fresh. That will help keep your teeth in their new, straighter positions, reducing tooth movement. With EverSmile products, you can take the first step in keeping your retainer clean and your teeth from moving. Check out our blog to stay current with the latest information and tips for great dental hygiene!

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  • Can Aligners and Retainers Lead to Cavities?

    Can Aligners and Retainers Lead to Cavities?

    Proper dental care is key to a healthy, happy smile. From a young age, people practice oral hygiene to reduce their risk of cavities and take care of their teeth. If you've started using aligners or retainers, you might be wondering how they affect your...

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  • Can You Use Your Aligner as a Whitening Tray?

    Can You Use Your Aligner as a Whitening Tray?

    Clear aligner trays are a convenient way to straighten your teeth without the hassle or appearance of standard aligners like braces. With clear aligners like the ones available from Invisalign, you can smile with confidence, knowing your teeth look great. You care about getting straighter...

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  • How to Clean Candid Co Aligners

    How to Clean Candid Co Aligners

    Candid aligners are a great way to straighten your teeth with confidence. Clear aligners from Candid let you smile more and worry less about your appearance since they're discreet compared to traditional aligners like braces. Some of your friends might not even notice you're wearing...

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  • Wearing a Retainer After Braces: What You Need to Know

    Wearing a Retainer After Braces: What You Need to Know

    Getting a retainer is the last step in your orthodontic treatment. But why do you need to wear a retainer after braces? Once your braces are taken off, your teeth will start to shift slightly. Wearing a retainer holds your teeth in place so they can...

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  • How to Clean a Night Guard

    How to Clean a Night Guard

    If you regularly wake up with a headache or a feeling of soreness in your jaw, you might grind or clench your teeth at night. People who grind their teeth have a condition called bruxism. Over time, clenching or grinding your teeth can cause wear...

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  • Invisalign 101 - When and How to Clean Your Invisalign Aligner

    Invisalign 101 - When and How to Clean Your Invisalign Aligner

    Invisalign is a modern-day blessing. Before the days of clear tooth aligners, many of us had middle-school nightmares of banded braces and all the associated complications — food stuck in brackets, yellowing teeth and a metallic smile. Believe it or not, Invisalign comes with similar...

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  • Guide to Wearing Aligners

    Guide to Wearing Aligners

    Braces are often considered an inconvenient, but necessary, rite of passage for children and young teens as they seek to correct crooked teeth and bite issues that may negatively impact oral health later on. While braces are common in childhood, the American Association of Orthodontists states one...

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