If you start to notice your teeth shifting positions over time, you’re not alone. Changes in teeth alignment are common and happen for any number of reasons, ranging from sleep position to age. Though the causes may vary, you don’t need to be alarmed. A qualified orthodontist can help you find the best method to straighten your teeth.
Shifting Under Pressure
People often cause teeth to shift by applying consistent gentle pressure over a long period of time. Many do not even realize they’re doing it. Sleeping on your stomach with your face in a pillow applies enough pressure to nudge teeth out of position. The changes may be gradual enough that, one day, you notice a slight overlap that wasn’t there before.
Resting your face on your hand, jaw clenching, and teeth grinding are other habits that can cause enough pressure to move teeth. Becoming aware of the habit that’s causing your teeth to change positions can help you identify ways to prevent further movement. Fall asleep on your back at night and maintain good posture during the day so you don’t rest your face in your hands. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding may require the help of an orthodontist, but you can take steps to prevent further changes.
Changes in Position After Orthodontic Work
Consistent pressure isn’t the only reason your teeth might be shifting. If you’ve had orthodontic work in the past and didn’t wear retainers correctly or long enough, you may notice shifting teeth. Like other alignment issues, you have options like Invisalign, ceramic braces, clear braces, or traditional braces.
While many people think the wisdom teeth cause this type of overcrowding, research suggests that wisdom teeth and overcrowding are not related. Dr. Jay Friedman , who conducted a study on third molars, states “Third molars do not possess sufficient force to move other teeth. They cannot cause crowding and overlapping of the incisors.”
Mesial drift is the term used to describe the gradual shift of the teeth toward the center of the face. Theories abound as to why this age-related change occurs. Some believe it’s a survival mechanism that dates back to when people only lived to the age of 40 years old. In this case, the teeth needed to move in toward the face to replace teeth that had fallen out from use or decay. With longer life expectancies and better dental care, this is rarely a problem today.
Most people notice overcrowding of the lower front teeth the most, but mesial drift takes place in the upper teeth as well. Overcrowded teeth, whether from mesial drift, pressure, or lack of care after orthodontic work, are at higher risk for periodontal disease and cavities.
A Smile That Makes You Proud
It doesn’t matter whether the changes in your smile stem from age or habits; they can be fixed. At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we treat you like family. We want to work with you to meet your goals while helping you find the right treatment for your lifestyle. Call us today at 410-267-7300 to set up an appointment.