Shifting Teeth? The Little-Known Facts of How Teeth Move

  • By StarBrite Dental
  • 10 Nov, 2015

Did your family spend thousands on braces to give you straight teeth? There’s a lot of more science behind that than you might think. Whether you’ve got a perfect smile or not, the fact is that the position of your teeth isn’t permanent.

While most people think of teeth as solid, fixed objects rooted in their jaws, they are actually capable of considerable movement throughout your life. These changes of position can have profound effects on your oral health.

A House With Two Walls

There’s always a sort of balance in nature. Animals and plants adjust to environmental conditions to survive and, in a way, the same is true in your own body. If you wind up losing or missing teeth, the surrounding and opposite teeth will adjust their positions to compensate for the support they’re now missing.

If it’s been some years since you’ve had one or more teeth removed, you may be seeing the effects of this compensation now as your teeth shift, making it difficult to chew your food thoroughly or fully close your mouth.

When we explain this concept to our patients, we often use the analogy of home construction. If you built a house with only two outside walls, the roof would be very unstable because of the lack of support. It would sag out of its ideal position. It’s much the same in your mouth. The teeth have evolved to support each other. Upper teeth meet lower teeth and so know just how far down they should grow. Your molars support each other side to side. As you chew, the stress is distributed evenly over the top surfaces of your teeth.

What Happens When Teeth Shift?

What kind of shifting can occur when one or more teeth have been removed? They can move sideways to fill a missing space. Upper teeth can reach down into an empty space and lower teeth can shift up. Teeth can start leaning in.

What’s more, chewing stresses are no longer evenly distributed, meaning you’re putting more pressure on certain teeth than they were designed for. This is particularly true if you’re now chewing on one side because you’re missing teeth on the other. This can also happen if your teeth have shifted into empty spaces, causing a misalignment between your upper and lower teeth. Over time, this extra stress can cause teeth to become loose or even fracture.

It would be great if we were like sharks and regrew teeth that were lost. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen, and we humans have to seek other solutions.

The Miracle of Dental Implants

The good news is that, as dental science advances, new solutions to missing teeth have become available. Our recommendation for the most lasting and effective solution to missing teeth is the dental implant. Only the precision of computerized manufacturing and new materials that actually bond to your bone make dental implants possible.

Machines that were derived from Swiss watch manufacturing now make replacement “roots” for your new teeth. This new root device, usually made of titanium, is inserted into your jawbone and allowed to heal for a few months. A replacement tooth is manufactured to match your other teeth and this is then locked onto the root for a permanent solution.

Implants have the best record of long-lasting success. Unlike a bridge, you are able to floss and brush normally with implants, especially when replacing multiple teeth in a row. If a number of teeth in a row are missing, this may be the only practical solution.

If you’re experiencing shifting teeth, you should see us as soon as possible, before the problem gets any worse. If you are new to our practice, we’ll make it easy for you to meet us and learn about our solutions. Call us at   (301) 377-2186   for a Free Dental Consultation.

We’re dedicated to helping you maintain a beautiful smile and excellent oral health.



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