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How can I keep my teeth straight after braces?

Did you know that it's possible for your teeth to shift out of place after our braces have been removed? Here, our North York dentists explain what you can do after your orthodontic treatment is over to help your teeth remain straight.

Can my teeth shift after braces?

Braces can help to straighten your teeth by guiding them into their prescribed positions. Once your treatment time is up and your braces have been removed, it's time to enjoy your newly-straightened teeth. But it's important to remember that because your braces are no longer present in your mouth, your teeth may start to shift back into their old positions if you don't do anything to stop them.

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

Wisdom Teeth Emerging

While most people have their wisdom teeth removed while teenagers, anyone who wore braces before their wisdom teeth erupt should watch out for them coming in so they can be extracted if they begin to crowd the other teeth in your smile. 

Tooth Loss

Whether a tooth is lost as a result of injury, decay or another cause, it can impact the teeth around it as they begin to compensate and move to fill the gap. To prevent this from happening, a dentist will recommend a dental implant or partial denture.

Gum Disease

Also known as periodontal disease, this progressive condition can impact your gum health, the stability of your teeth and even the strength of your jawbone. As your gums recede because of this disease, so does the foundation that stabilizes your teeth. Severe periodontal disease can even lead to loss of jaw bone – and teeth.

Teeth Clenching or Grinding

Also referred to as bruxism, this condition typically affects people who are feeling stressed – they may clench their top and bottom teeth together or grind them, which can lead to gum recession.

Less gum tissues means that your teeth won't be as secure in your smile as they were before, leaving them more susceptible to movement in your mouth.

How can I protect my teeth after braces?

Though the above circumstances are real threats to your straighter smile, the good news is that preventive methods can help. Now that you’ve invested in straightening your teeth with braces, make that work last by using these tips and tricks:

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.

Your retainer may be either fixed or removable. If you have a removable retainer, it will be up to you to wear it as has been prescribed by your dentist or orthodontist. At first, this will be all the time besides when you are eating, brushing or flossing. After a while, you may be told that you can cut down the time you wear your retainer to nighttime. 

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.

During the first 6 months after you have your braces removed from your smile, we recommend visiting your dentist routinely and every 9 months after that to help your teeth remain in their prescribed positions and to give your dentist a chance to inspect your retainer and make adjustments as required. 

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.

Perhaps your retainer is damaged, or no longer fits properly as a result of not wearing it enough. If your retainer is permanent, ensure the wire stays in place and that none of the bonds have released from your teeth, which may cause misalignment. Your orthodontist can repair or replace your retainer, to ensure your teeth don’t move any further.

Another reason teeth move is because 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 orthodontist today for insights and advice.

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