Why Do Teeth Shift?

Why do teeth shift? Although one might think teeth are solidly rooted in place and unmovable, they do move over time. With orthodontic treatment, an orthodontist can take advantage of this gradual mobility. With treatments like Invisalign and braces, teeth can shift very slowly to their ideal positions.

However, teeth also move gradually, all on their own naturally. As we age, this process can lead to problems like gaps and crowded teeth. Otherwise, minor shifts may not cause a problem.

Why Do Teeth Shift?

To understand why teeth shift, we’ll look at how teeth are held in place. Rather than being fixed in place by the gums and bone, a somewhat flexible ligament secures teeth.

The periodontal ligament (PDL) fastens teeth to the jaw with connective tissue and collagen. Light yellow minerals and collagen on the outside of the tooth’s roots, called cementum, interlocks with root dentin and helps to secure the ligament.  

Thankfully, the PDL acts like a shock absorber when you chew. In cases of grinding teeth, it can help, though constant grinding called bruxism can damage teeth over time.

As another advantage, the PDL allows a dentist to remove a problem tooth if necessary. With no direct attachment to the jawbone, wisdom teeth can come out if necessary, for example.

Grinding Teeth

If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, the pressure can enlarge the PDL ligament. Then, your teeth are more likely to shift over time. Over time, it can damage the surrounding tissue.

Also, bruxism often leads to problems with the temporomandibular joint in the jaws. Once more, an orthodontist like Dr. Glaser can help. Please, contact us if you believe you suffer from bruxism or have jaw pain.

Teeth Shift Naturally

As people age, teeth naturally drift toward the front of the mouth. The process is called mesial or physiological drift. 

Over years of chewing and grinding teeth, the enamel can wear down. As a result, small gaps form with can become larger over time. Then, teeth will drift more as spaces grow larger. When a tooth is lost, the drift becomes worse and underlying bone can recede.

Crooked and Crowded Teeth

Unfortunately, as many as nine in ten people have teeth that are at least slightly misaligned. Such misalignments are called malocclusions ( or a bad bite) and often involve crowded or crooked teeth. 

When there are malocclusions, they can get worse over time. Fortunately, orthodontists can correct malocclusions with a range of treatments like Invisalign or braces.

With treatment, we can guide the teeth to drift back toward their ideal positions slowly. Then, wearing a retainer after treatment ensures they stay put. 

Teeth Shift When You Lose a Tooth 

In America, most adults can expect to lose a tooth. By age 65, as many as 30 percent of adults may have no natural teeth.

When you lose a tooth, the underlying bone can recede. Thus, it can change your appearance, and teeth will shift where there are open spaces. 

However, a combination of restorative dentistry and orthodontic treatment can restore your smile in both appearance and health. At Glaser Orthodontics, treatment is affordable and can help you look and feel your best.

Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal (gum) disease can damage the PDL and lead to infections in the gums and bone. Since about 47% of adults age 30 have periodontal disease, this can lead to loose teeth and – you guessed it – teeth shift.

With routine dental check-ups and orthodontic care, you can avoid potentially serious health problems.

How to Keep Teeth from Shifting

Since teeth naturally drift with age, we can expect some movement. However, an orthodontist is a specialist in aligning the teeth and jaws. Then, you can avoid oral health concerns and be proud of your stunning smile.

At Glaser Orthodontics, the retention stage of treatment starts immediately after braces or Invisalign. By wearing a retainer, you can ensure your teeth won’t shift again. So, you can enjoy your perfect smile for a lifetime.

We hope this helps with the question, “Why do teeth shift?” With an expert orthodontist like Dr. Glaser, your teeth will stay in place and look amazing.

For any questions, give us a call at 914.739.6400 anytime. 

Proudly providing orthodontic services to Northern Westchester and Putnam Counties. Including Cortlandt Manor, Peekskill, Yorktown Heights, Mahopac, Croton-On-Hudson, and Cold Spring.

See Dr. Glaser discuss “Why do teeth shift?” below: