Why Do My Teeth Shift In My Mouth?

Blonde woman wearing a black shirt covers her mouth with her hands due to embarrassment about her shifted teeth

Even after we get all our permanent teeth and become adults, our teeth continue to shift in our mouth. In fact, your teeth may be constantly making minor adjustments in your mouth. Today, we want to take a closer look at this phenomenon and its impact on your oral health.

How Do Teeth Move?

Your teeth are embedded in your jawbone, which gives them stability and their basic alignment. Cementum, the outer layer of your teeth composed of minerals and collagen, helps brace your teeth in your jaw while your periodontal ligament acts as an anchor. The periodontal ligament is somewhat flexible, allowing your teeth to make minor movements in your mouth.

What Causes Teeth to Move?

Although the amount may vary, everyone’s teeth shift slowly over time. For example, your teeth slowly move forward in your mouth as you age through a process called mesial drift. In other cases, damage to your enamel (the protective outer coating on teeth) can be responsible for teeth shifting. Enamel damage or loss changes the shape of your tooth, increasing the likelihood of it moving in your mouth. Additionally, a tongue thrust beyond infancy when swallowing can push your front teeth anteriorly, causing an overjet. Erupting wisdom teeth can also cause overcrowding and shifting of your teeth.

How Can You Keep Teeth From Shifting?

A good oral hygiene routine can help protect your teeth from significantly shifting over time. You should brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time and floss each day to limit damage to enamel due to the buildup of bacteria. Address any other potential sources of enamel damage, such as nighttime teeth grinding. Bruxism (tooth grinding during sleep) and vigorously brushing your teeth are two common sources of enamel damage that can be avoided by investing in a custom-fitted nightguard, reducing your stress level, and brushing gently. Moreover, take care of your retainer after any orthodontic work, whether it be cleaning your permanent retainer or wearing your temporary retainer as directed. Seek help to retrain your tongue in a healthier swallowing pattern if you struggle with a tongue thrust, and have your wisdom teeth evaluated for potential extraction.

Consult with Our Expert Cosmetic Dentist!

If you believe your teeth have shifted in your mouth, Dr. Peng will carefully examine your mouth and your dental health history to determine whether there is cause for concern. We can also improve the look of your smile with our cosmetic dentistry services, from teeth whitening or veneers to orthodontics. To ask our team any questions about shifting teeth or to schedule a cosmetic consultation, contact our office today.

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