Why Do Our Teeth Shift?

Has your normally stellar smile seen better days? Your teeth could be shifting, and the causes are a lot more basic (bad brushing habits, anyone?) than you may think. Luckily, early intervention can help keep your teeth in line. Here’s what you need to know—before it’s too late.

Letting Bacteria Brew
It may sound simple, but just the act of brushing properly and flossing daily will help hinder bacteria, one of the lesser-known culprits behind teeth shifting. “Teeth start to move when the gums become inflamed and bacteria left undisturbed proliferates and the bone literary starts to melt,” explains New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. “Brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes, correctly making sure that you are cleaning out the sulcus (where the tooth meets the gum) and flossing once a day can help prevent this.”

Not Brushing Correctly
According to Dr. Smigel, beyond brushing for the time span of two minutes, you should also make sure you are not pressing too hard on the brush. “You should brush in a circular motion and listen to the 'music' of the bristles. If you hear them moving, then you are not pressing too lightly or too hard,” he says. “You should do 10 circles, or 10 seconds on every tooth surface. Using a brush that is angled at 45 degrees will also help because it is meant for the bristles to go under the gum and clean out that area.”

Grinding the Teeth
Grinding doesn’t just leave teeth looking worn and misshapen, it actually forces the lower jaw forward and puts tension on the upper teeth. The continual thrusting affects the position of the upper arch, pushing it out of alignment.

Delaying the Replacement of a Lost Tooth
According to Fort Washington, PA, prosthodontist Glenn J. Wolfinger, DMD, when an adult tooth is lost and not replaced right away, the adjacent teeth tend to shift and move at a greater rate. “If there is a delay in replacing the tooth, orthodontic treatment may be indicated to properly reposition the adjacent teeth and crest the ideal space for tooth replacement.”