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Why Are My Teeth Shifting?


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The body changes over time, but teeth are meant to stay in place. Tooth movement is a sign of trouble and can lead to greater complications if left to continue. If you’re experiencing tooth movement, it could be from an illness, habit or a hereditary cause.

Here are nine reasons why teeth move:


1. Natural AgingJaw muscles and ligaments age with the rest of the body. Over time, the ligaments, tissues and fibers comprising the jaw grow weak. Teeth can grow loose, shifting the bite. Aging facial features can affect teeth as well. Lips contract as they age, creating pressure on the exterior of the bite, pushing teeth inward.


2. Jaw Movement

Changes in jaw structure are part of the aging process, but they can contribute to tooth movement. Jawbones shift forward throughout a person’s entire lifespan. Eventually, the force created by lower teeth can push the upper teeth out of place. The teeth then become misaligned, which can alter the bite and cause more teeth to shift.


3. Osteo Changes

Mineral content in bones throughout the body tends to decrease over time, which reduces bone density. This includes the jawbone. The connections attaching teeth to the jaw can then weaken, causing teeth to move.


4. Tooth Grinding

Tooth grinding (bruxism) can cause teeth to move through force and wear. An estimated 10% of the population grinds their teeth. Many do so unconsciously, leading to unexplained shifts in the bite. In addition to potential tooth shifting, bruxism can cause enamel reduction and changes to the shape of the teeth.


5. Tooth Loss

Tooth loss from injury or illness can cause adjacent and opposite teeth to move. Adults with edentulism (missing teeth) risk damaging their remaining teeth over time. Teeth will naturally start to shift to fill the space left by a missing tooth, whether through lateral or vertical movement. Damaged teeth also affect bite alignment.


6. Gum Disease

Periodontal diseases (gingivitis and gum disease) can destroy gum tissue and the jaw bone, leading to tooth movement. Periodontitis can spread to surrounding tissue if it is left untreated as well.


7. Tongue Thrust

Tongue placement while swallowing can cause tooth movement. Tongue thrust, also referred to as reverse swallow, involves involuntarily pushing the tongue against the teeth while swallowing, speaking and at rest. The force gradually creates a gap between the forward upper and lower teeth.


8. Dental Procedures

Common dental procedures create small changes to tooth topography, leading to shifts in the bite. Over time, minor changes to bite alignment can begin to cause tooth shifting. Installing implants or bridges, removing teeth and uneven fillings can all contribute to tooth movement.


9. Orthodontic Procedures

Altering natural tooth placement with an orthodontic procedure can cause teeth to move. Braces, Invisalign and other orthodontic devices can improve bite appearance. Once the device is removed, teeth are prone to shift, though. They slowly move back to their place of origin.


Prevention and Treatment

Regardless of the cause, consult a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further movement and to fix the teeth that have already shifted. Tooth movement can be gradual and hard to detect. Get in touch with us at Clinique Dentaire WM Dorval, and we can work with you fix shifting teeth. Contact us online or call us at (514) 631-3811

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