Can Shifting Teeth Be Corrected?

Patients may begin to notice that their teeth have shifted out of place, and feel self-conscious about their smile. It is reported that nearly a third of American adults are not happy with their smile. Because a smile is often the first thing people notice, it is reasonable for a patient to feel self-conscious about the alignment of their teeth. Teeth which begin to shift can negatively impact a patient’s smile. It can be especially aggravating to experience shifting teeth following the completion of orthodontic treatments such as braces.


There are various things which can cause the teeth to shift. For example, a missing tooth can allow for the shifting of the adjacent teeth. Gum disease can be another cause for movement as the teeth are less secure and the gums begin to pull away from the teeth. Other things that can result in shifting can include grinding, decay, routine wear and tear, and a genetic predisposition. The teeth actually shift throughout a patient’s life through a process called mesial drift where the teeth slowly move towards the front of the mouth.

The teeth shift over time from the forces of routine activities. Even light forces that are consistently applied can result in movement. The bone which holds the tooth in place changes and adjust to properly support new position of the tooth. Another common cause for shifting teeth is when the patient fails to wear a retainer after braces or another type of orthodontic treatment. The teeth can slowly start to return to their natural position.


Fortunately, there are various treatments which can be used to restore teeth which have shifted. Two of the most popular treatments are braces and Invisalign. The benefits and challenges associated with these options are summarized below.

Traditional Braces

Traditional braces have been used to successfully straighten teeth for decades. Braces use brackets and wires adjust the position of the teeth. Brackets are secured to the teeth while the wire component pulls the tooth into the desired location. Traditional braces are often used when the patient has significant alignment issues or the case is especially complicated.

Some of the challenges associated with traditional braces include the visibility and discomfort associated with the brackets and wires. Patients also have to visit the orthodontist regularly during treatment. Traditional braces can also require diet limitations and be difficult to clean.


Invisalign is another popular treatment for shifting or misaligned teeth. The dental professional will obtain images of the teeth to create a comprehensive treatment plan. These images are then sent to a lab where the clear, plastic aligner trays are created. The trays fit snugly over the teeth and are replaced about every two weeks. The Invisalign trays are simply worn for the required time and then discarded when the new trays arrive.

Some of the top benefits associated with Invisalign are that the trays are essentially invisible, comfortable to wear, and convenient with the patient’s lifestyle. Thin, plastic aligners are comfortable and do not rub against the gums. Another benefit of Invisalign is that patients do not have any restrictions with what they can eat or drink as the trays are simply removed. It is also easier to practice good oral hygiene as the trays are removed before brushing or flossing.

One limitation of invisalign is that the trays must be worn for a majority of the day and patients must closely follow the treatment instructions. Following the removal of the trays, patients may forget to replace them or lose them. It is often not recommended for young patients, as the treatment requires a certain level of responsibility. Invisalign may also not be useful for complex cases.

Is Teeth Shifting Serious