Congratulations! Your braces have come off or will be soon. Now, how do we stop your teeth shifting after the braces?
Why Do Teeth Shift Back After Braces
The bad news is your teeth will move for the rest of your life. Your teeth moving around is a normal part of growing. The point of the braces is to make sure your teeth are moved into a position so that any motion after the braces come off is in the right direction.
The good news is that very few people have any issues with their teeth moving to the point of looking bad after braces.
Depending on your age, your teeth may begin shifting right away. Or it might take several years. That is one of the reasons you have a retainer after your braces: It helps to reduce the shifting.
Throughout your life, your gums will continue to grow and the nerve cells, blood vessels, and bone tissue that holds your teeth in place will continue to grow and replace itself. If you find your teeth moving after your braces, it is because the jaw and bone structure have not completely shifted to a proper position. Even if you had your braces for two years, you still might not have a proper alignment for your teeth.
Your age will have a determining factor on whether or not your teeth will move apart or shift after your braces come off. Dentists/ortodontists like to put braces on teeth when children are young teenagers. That is because the jaw is not fully formed and it is easy to move the teeth around. Unfortunately, because the jaw will grow until a person is approximately 25 years old, it is difficult to stop teeth from shifting if braces are put on too young.
What people will find is that the teeth start shifting years after braces come off. More often than not, people will find their front teeth or bottom teeth shifting after braces. Fortunately, unless the movement of your teeth it is drastic, you will not need braces again. Some movement is tolerated as natural growth and for most other types of moving teeth, a retainer is enough to retain alignment.
Teeth Shifting After Removing Retainer
I have never had braces, but I do use a nighttime retainer to stop grinding my teeth. One of the things I noticed when I stopped wearing (forgot to wear) my retainer, my teeth shifted after about 2 days. It was slight, but just enough that the retainer did not quite fit properly.
So even if you have a permanent retainer, you might find your teeth shifting. What you will not find is your teeth shifting while you are wearing the retainer because it will keep your teeth in proper position.
That is why it is so important to wear your retainer. Because even after wearing braces and with a retainer your teeth will move. It is part of the growing process. Sometimes dentists/orthodontists will recommend the permanent retainer, or a bonded retainer, to help stop your teeth from shifting. Permanent retainers and bonded retainers are not truly permanent, they just last a long time. A bonded retainer is attached to your teeth and may need to be replaced every couple of years.
Even if you've had Invisalign, your teeth shifting back afterward could happen. Generally, with Invisalign, you will have a retainer to help keep your teeth in place. Be sure to talk to your dentist/orthodontist about this option.
Of course, if you are concerned about your teeth moving or you feel they are moving too fast, be sure to talk to your dentist and orthodontist. You should not notice your teeth moving, especially if you are wearing a retainer.
How to Stop Teeth from Shifting
There are many things you can do to help stop your teeth from shifting back. We don't recommend trying any of the techniques or suggestions we have here without talking to your dentist/orthodontist. It may interfere with something they have planned or as part of your treatment.
Stop Playing with Your Teeth
The first thing to stop your teeth from shifting with or without a retainer is to not play with them. We know it's a lot of fun to start to touching your teeth and poking with your tongue as soon as you get your braces off but it could start an uncomfortable habit that could cause problems later on.
You retainer will help correct minor tooth shifting on a daily basis. You may notice when your retainer is put in and out of your mouth that it doesn't quite snap perfectly in. That is because your teeth have shifted ever so slightly. You do not need to do anything about this type of movement.
In fact, the act of chewing will cause your teeth to shift ever so slightly. Under normal conditions when you are done chewing and your gums relax, your teeth should shift back into the proper alignment. It is one of the reasons dentists use a retainer for many years after braces come off, so be sure to follow their directions.
The first thing you can do to avoid your teeth shifting after braces is to not play with them. The second thing you can do is to make sure you chew your food properly. You will need to talk to your dentist/orthodontist to make sure the exercise matches your particular jaw formation.
Many people chew similarly to a cow, with side to side motion. But that is not how our teeth are designed to work. Our jaw has incredible amounts of force straight up and down. Humans are not meant to so much grind their food between their teeth, but to crush it. Slight side to side or front to back motion helps this grinding process.
Here's how you can practice this chewing motion: pay attention to every food you eat, feel how your jaw is coming together and how well it breaks down the food. If you notice side to side or the front to back motion, start to minimize that motion.
This type of chewing will do two very important tasks for you. First, it will help keep your teeth in proper position because the act of chewing will not put undue strain on them. And second, it will help mix the digestive enzymes with your food. This will help the chewing process and reduce the stomach and digestive problems.
Mouth and Jaw Exercises
Many dentists/orthodontists will recommend exercises for your mouth and jaw both when you have braces and when they come off. We recommend continuing those exercises as long as possible. If you didn't get a list of exercises to be sure to talk to your dentist/orthodontist. There are multiple different types of jaw strengthening exercises is depending on if you have an underbite, overbite, or other problem. We are not actually going to go over those exercises because the ones for an underbite contradict the ones for an overbite. Doing the wrong type of exercise could make your issue worse.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
Your teeth will look fabulous after you get braces, so we recommend brushing and flossing on a regular basis. The one thing you may notice immediately after your braces come off is discoloration where the actual brace was. Generally, this discoloration fades. If not, talk to your dentist about good teeth cleaning or whitening treatment *.
Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Some people may grind their teeth after they get their braces off. If you find this is happening, definitely talk to your dentist/orthodontist. A night guard * is not very different from a retainer, and it can help reduce any problems caused by grinding teeth. Some upper back and neck problems are associated with grinding teeth.
Finally, we recommend looking for elocution exercises online or with a professional coach. This will help develop the muscles in your mouth, tongue, and throat properly so that you can form words well, reduce lisping, and help your teeth remain in a good position. In today's society, good speaking habits are undervalued, but it certainly sets a person apart. Proper elocution and speaking habits are never regretted.
There is no stopping your teeth from moving as long as you are alive, but you can reduce any damage and reduce any motion by keeping your teeth clean and healthy. Fortunately, very few people have any issues with a motion that will cause problems later in life.
You can try some of the recommendations we have here for exercises that will help to keep your jaw in a proper position. If you find you are having issues, do contact your dentist/orthodontist and see what other options are available.
If you liked our article, please share it and use the comment section below to tell us about your experiences or ask any questions. Thank You!