Not only the human teeth have been naturally pre-set to grow over time, but the jaws also change shape as we grow and make the teeth move into new positions. But after going through that seemingly forever period of wearing a foreign object in your mouth and eventually getting your dream smile; be it through the virtually invisible Invisalign® or any other orthodontic braces, you sure don’t want a situation where your teeth start reverting to their former positions. This situation termed relapse is the enemy of retention. So, what steps can one take to prevent the shifting of teeth back to their initial positions? Follow our tips carefully listed below and you’ll be able to hold on to that beautiful smile for a lifetime. But before then, what can cause your teeth to start shifting back to their former positions?
Causes of Teeth Shifting After Orthodontic treatment
- Modification of Arch: The inter-canine and intermolar widths have been found to decrease during the post-retention period, especially if expanded during treatment. Also, the more the form of the arch is changed or widened, the more likely it is for a relapse to occur after treatment. Hence, the shape of the arch has been generally recommended to not be tampered with or widened during orthodontist treatments.
- Periodontal & Gingival Tissues: In an attempt to correct the rotation of teeth in the mouth, orthodontic treatments employ movement of the teeth into new positions. This movement causes the principal periodontal fibers to over stretch thereby disrupting the equilibrium and a certain period is required for reorganization of these fibers. The gingival tissue builds slowly after treatment and this slow remodelling can cause a relapse. To combat this, it has been suggested that the early treatment of rotation is done so as to allow for sufficient time for reorganisation.
- Tooth/Teeth Extraction and Tooth Loss: This is the leading reason why people’s teeth revert to their initial positions after treatment. This is because, when a tooth is missing, the other teeth surrounding it may begin shifting to fill in that space. If you lose a tooth after your treatment, visit your orthodontist to dental prosthesis. If you had an extraction before your orthodontic treatment, they’ll either get a denture filler in the braces or fix one in your mouth.
- Protrusion and Narrowing of the Jaws: The protrusion and narrowing of your jaw could also cause teeth shifting, regardless of your age. The lower jaw (mandible) can affect the shape of your teeth. In the sense that the movements of the lower jaw will cause your lower teeth to obstruct the upper teeth’s movement. This may result in spacing out of some of the upper teeth and crowding in the lower front teeth.
- Gum Disease: Also known as ‘periodontitis’, this very serious oral condition is a result of the accumulation of bacteria on your gums and teeth over time. This condition can result in the destruction of the bone supporting your teeth. Thereby, causing the teeth to move along the gums or even fall off if not treated.
Other causes of teeth shifting are:
- Thrusting of the tongue against the teeth.
- Sucking of thumbs.
Tips to Prevent Teeth Shifting After Orthodontic treatment
- Stable and Functional Occlusion: In preventing a relapse or your teeth shifting again, it is of utmost importance that you have a functional and stable occlusion relationship. These occlusion relationships include adequate interincisal contact angle, good posterior intercuspation and a perfect molar relationship, all of which can help prevent a relapse in both crossbite and anteroposterior correction.
- Dental Implants: If after your orthodontic treatment, you lose a tooth, it is advisable you visit your orthodontist to get a dental implant. This is to prevent shifting due to teeth loss. Also, if your dentist says you need an extraction before your treatment, rest assured that either provision of a dental implant, dental bridge or dentures will follow as the case may be.
- Always Wear Your Retainer: This can’t be stressed enough, after wearing your braces for the period of your treatment, you don’t want to ruin that period by not wearing your retainer. This is by far the best way to stop your teeth from reverting to their initial positions. Ensure to wear your dental retainer as indicated by your orthodontist and you won’t have problems. If you don’t like the retainer braces, you can use the invisible Invisalign® retainer. If you discover your teeth are moving and you wear the retainer regularly, it’s best you visit your orthodontist. This may be caused by a retainer that doesn’t fit your teeth again or a damaged one.
- Good Dental Hygiene Practice: It’s of the utmost importance to practice excellent dental hygiene to keep your teeth healthy and in their right positions. These practices include: everyday flossing, brushing twice (or more) a day, using toothpaste that contains fluoride, drinking a lot of water and limit the intake of sugary and acidic fruits amongst other practices. If these practices are abided by, there’s a reduced risk of teeth shifting.
- Grinding of teeth must be addressed before damages are done. If your orthodontic treatment has ended and you notice you grind your teeth, visit your dentist immediately. A dentist can notice an abnormal wearing of the teeth caused by grinding and then s/he may need to make a mouthguard for you to wear while sleeping. Mouthguards are made with thin but thick plastic material, the same as your retainer.
- Visit Your Dentist Regularly: It is general knowledge that you should pay a visit to your dentist every 6 months interval for teeth cleaning and check-up. Yet, the truth is everybody’s oral health differ and while someone with healthy teeth needs to visit the dentist twice a year, a person with less healthy teeth will need to see the dentist more often. So, when you visit your dentist for a check-up, your dentist will tell you when next to come for another check based on your oral health. This time interval might be a month, two or more, this way you’re assured of good oral health.
The most effective way to keep your new smile after orthodontic treatment is to use your retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist. However, different circumstances might cause teeth shifting and this is why you have to remain in close contact with your orthodontist after your treatment so that you can get the best of dental advice. Book a consultation with Dr Kalange HERE to discuss any of your teeth shifting problems and you are guaranteed a lifetime of smile.