How can I keep my teeth straight after braces?

Did you know that your teeth can shift after your braces are removed? Our North York dentists provide advice on what you should do after treatment to ensure your teeth remain straight – and that all your hard work pays off.

Can my teeth shift after braces?

By guiding the teeth to their proper positions, braces help straighten teeth. When your treatment is complete and your braces are removed, you can finally appreciate your straight teeth. Keep in mind, however, that since the barrier created by the braces is no longer present, your teeth may begin to shift.

While typically any shifting of teeth will not be noticeable, some circumstances may happen that require the attention of your orthodontist.

Wisdom Teeth Emerging

Although most people have their wisdom teeth extracted during adolescence, anyone who wears braces prior to the eruption of their wisdom teeth should be on the lookout for their emergence so that they can be extracted if they begin to crowd other teeth.

Tooth Loss

Whether a tooth is lost due to injury, decay, or another cause, it can have an effect on the surrounding teeth as they shift to fill the gap. A dentist will suggest dental implants or partial dentures to try and prevent this from occurring.

Gum Disease

This progressive condition, also known as periodontal disease, affects the gums, teeth, and potentially the jaw bone. As gums recede, so does the tooth's supporting structure. Even severe periodontal disease can result in tooth and jawbone loss.

Teeth Clenching or Grinding

This condition, also known as bruxism, typically affects stressed individuals, who may clench or grind their upper and lower teeth, which can result in gum recession.

Less gum tissue means the teeth will not be as secure as they were before, which can leave them more susceptible to movement.

How can I protect my teeth after braces?

Despite the fact that the aforementioned conditions pose genuine threats to your straighter smile, the good news is that preventative measures can help. Now that you've invested in straightening your teeth with braces, ensure that your investment lasts by implementing the following strategies:

Wear Your Retainer as Prescribed

For most patients, wearing a retainer is part of life after braces. Wearing your retainer regularly as prescribed is the easiest way to keep your teeth from shifting after your braces come off.

The retainer may be either removable or fixed. If your retainer is removable, it is your responsibility to wear it as directed (which at first, will likely be all the time, except when eating, brushing or flossing). Your orthodontist may eventually recommend that you wear your retainer only at night.

Maintain Excellent Oral Health

No matter what age you are or what stage of orthodontic treatment you are at, one constant is that maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine will go a long way to promoting oral health and preventing tooth decay, which can eat away at your teeth and damage their shape.

If decay occurs, the rest of your teeth may shift around it. You can decrease your risk of tooth decay by brushing and flossing thoroughly and regularly and attending regular dental checkups to help keep your teeth healthy.

We recommend visiting your dentist every six months for the first six months following the removal of your braces, and then every nine months thereafter, to ensure your teeth are in the proper position and to allow your dentist to inspect your retainer and make any necessary adjustments.

Take Action If Your Teeth Shift

If you notice your teeth are shifting, it’s important to take action right away by contacting your orthodontist for an appointment.

The shift may be occurring for a number of reasons, even if you are sticking to your treatment plan and wearing your retainer as you should.

Maybe your retainer is broken or no longer fits properly as a result of infrequent use. If your retainer is permanent, ensure that the wire remains in place and that none of the tooth bonds have been broken, which could lead to misalignment. Your orthodontist can repair or replace your retainer in order to prevent further tooth movement.

Another reason teeth move is that wisdom teeth are emerging, which can cause all your teeth to shift to make room for them. If this is the case, the wisdom teeth will need to be extracted.

Do you have questions or concerns about life after braces? Contact our North York dentists today for insights and advice.

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