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What is teeth shifting?

13 March 2024

Do you miss the once-straight smile of your youth? Or maybe you’ve noticed that your teeth are in a slightly different position than you remember.

Chances are, this is down to teeth shifting.

So, what do you need to know about teeth shifting and how can you stop it from affecting your oral health?

Teeth shifting

Causes of teeth shifting

Teeth shifting is an entirely natural phenomenon that happens to almost everyone as we age – but for some, the extent to which the teeth move can cause problems.

Over time, these tiny shifts in our tooth position can lead to a wonky smile and potential oral health issues.

But why are our teeth moving anyway?

There are a range of reasons our teeth shift and subtly move in our mouths and these include:

While the teeth are fixed into the jawbone via the tooth roots, teeth remain naturally flexible and movable, so as to withstand pressure, accidents, and through growth spurts in childhood and in your teenage years.

Especially in the lower jaw.

Whether as a chronic sleep condition or as a side effect of stress, teeth clenching and grinding can put excess pressure on teeth, causing them to shift in the mouth.

As we meander calmly to old age, our facial structure changes again. The lower jaw can grow forward and narrow and the lips can become smaller and tighter – all of which causes pressure on the skeletal structures, which can affect positioning long-term.

Whether you’ve lost a tooth as a result of trauma, gum disease, or poor genetics, losing a tooth leaves a gap that your other teeth will take advantage of.

This can lead to developing or growing gaps throughout that whole region of your mouth.

To accommodate the necessary changes to the mother’s body in pregnancy, a chemical called relaxin is released. Relaxin causes softened ligaments and increased flexibility, which also affects the ligament in the mouth and causes the gums to soften – resulting in movement.

If you have previously undergone orthodontic treatment and have not continued to wear your retainer, you may find that your teeth have returned to their original or even a new position.

If you have periodontal disease, the tissue in the gum and bones can become damaged and no longer support the teeth, keeping them in place.

How to treat teeth shifting

The easiest way to correct teeth shifting if it has already happened is to consider orthodontic or dental implant treatment.

Once the teeth have moved out of correct alignment, orthodontics is a field of dentistry concerned with correcting or realigning the teeth.

This can include removable aligner treatments, like Invisalign, or more traditional, permanent archwire braces that move the teeth steadily over a series of months or years.

If the movement of teeth has been caused because of missing teeth, you may also be advised to fill the gap of missing teeth.

You can do this with dental implants, a pontic, or a dental bridge, which, depending on the patient’s unique circumstances, can replace the missing tooth and stop the movement of neighbouring teeth around it.

Is there a way to prevent teeth shifting?

While it can be a result of ageing, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do if you suspect your teeth are shifting.

Preventative measures include:

Contact Marlborough Dental Studio to stop teeth shifting

If you suspect your teeth are slowly moving, or you want to correct teeth shifting, it is essential that you contact a dentist to discuss your concerns.

If you are looking for a friendly, helpful family dental practice, Marlborough Dental Studio can help – read our reviews to see why.

To book your first appointment to discuss teeth shifting, orthodontics, or dental implants, you can call us today on 01672 513 184 or fill in our enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.