Having your braces removed is a very exciting moment in a person’s life. Not only are you ready to show off your flawless smile, but you are free from the restraints of those clunky wires and brackets that were stuck to your teeth for months. After having equipment in your mouth for so long, it’s understandable that the last thing you want to do is wear a retainer, but failing to do so may result in having to say goodbye to your straight teeth. Retainers are crucial for preventing shifting. Shifting happens when teeth, especially those in the mouth’s bottom front, slowly relocate back into a crooked position. Whether you wear your retainer religiously or have it hidden at the bottom of a drawer somewhere, it’s important to be aware of the causes of shifting teeth to prevent them from reversing the progress made with braces.

Why Do Teeth Shift?

Teeth can shift whether you have had braces or have never seen an orthodontist in your life. The migration of your teeth happens gradually over time but can be expedited by certain activities or habits. The following are reasons why you may be experiencing movement in the position of your teeth.


As you get older your jawbone will naturally and gradually grow forward and become narrower. The changing position of your bottom jaw away from your face and closer together crowd the lower teeth, causing them to appear more crooked. The changes in your bottom teeth can affect your bite alignment over time, leading to your upper teeth shifting as a form of compensation.

Oral Health and Gum Disease

Neglecting to maintain proper oral health can lead to issues like gum disease or tooth extraction. Gum disease weakens the gum tissue that holds your teeth in place. When the gums do not have a tight grip on your teeth, it can lead to loose teeth that are susceptible to shifting. In extreme cases where tooth extraction is required, the new gap made by the extracted tooth leaves a wide-open space for your teeth to migrate into.

Tooth Grinding

Tooth grinding is known to prematurely wear down your teeth, but it can also lead to a condition called Bruxism in which you aggressively grind, gnash, or clench your teeth, even while awake. Bruxism causes a constant force on the molars that can lead to a change in their position. As an effect of this change, the new position of the molars puts pressure on the surrounding teeth, causing them to shift as well.


Every muscle and bone in our faces work in harmony to maintain the proper positioning and functioning of our facial anatomy. As the most susceptible features to movement, our teeth experience the most change with even the seemingly smallest of impacts. Mouth-breathing is one of those influences that can cause our teeth to shift. Breathing through the mouth prevents the natural support of the upper jaw provided by the tongue. This can lead to the narrowing of the jaw and crowding of the teeth.

Not Wearing Your Retainer

This may seem like an obvious catalyst for the shifting of your teeth, but even with this knowledge, many people fail to wear their retainers. Wearing your removable retainers every night is one of the easiest ways to maintain control over your flawless, straight smile. Even one week off from wearing them can cause your teeth to move. Some people have fixed retainers that remain cemented to the back of their teeth. Taking care of these permanent devices and having them repaired as soon as you notice any damage is also crucial for preventing your teeth from shifting.

Signs Your Teeth May Be Shifting

Teeth Shifting can be very gradual and you may not be aware of this movement until drastic changes have occurred. It is important to be aware of the signs that you may be experiencing teeth shifting to stop the shifting in its tracks. Remember, these signs can be very minimal, but even the smallest of symptoms can be an indication of tooth migration. The following are signs and symptoms of your teeth shifting:

  •       Visible changes in alignment
  •       New gaps or spaces
  •       New areas of crowding or overlapping
  •       Irregularities or Changes in your bite

Schedule a Consultation

When you want to avoid post-brace dental shifts, it’s best to seek out help from a dental professional. Reach out to Locust Valley Dentists in Locust Valley, NY so we can assess your needs, customize treatment, and give you the best care for your teeth. Take a step toward preserving your smile by making an appointment.

Locust Valley Dentists

Her colleagues describe her as a perfectionist with an unparalleled eye for detail. Her patients describe her as warm, caring, and attentive. It’s always Dr. Koster’s goal to provide outstanding treatment for her patients as well as to educate them on their own dental health while exploring all treatment options.