Is Teeth Shifting Serious?

Patients may begin to notice that their smile is starting to look a little crooked or off. It is actually completely normal for the teeth to begin to shift over time. The movement is typically minimal and may not even be noticeable. It may be cause for concern, however, when patients begin to notice significant changes in the position of their teeth. Various issues can cause the teeth to shift and it can result in cosmetic concerns and bite issues. Signs of shifting teeth and treatment options are summarized below.

Before reviewing signs associated with shifting teeth, it is important to first understand what can cause movement of the teeth. Below is a summary of common causes.


Over time, the teeth will naturally start to move and shift. Common causes of this type of movement includes changes in the gums, bones, and regular wear and tear.

Missing Teeth

Patients who have lost a tooth or had a tooth extracted, often notice that the adjacent teeth can start to shift into the newly open space. This can result in changes to the position of the teeth and the overall bite.

Gum Disease

Patients with gum disease can experience weakness in the bone which supports the teeth. Over time, this can allow for movement and shifting of the teeth.


Another common cause for the teeth to shift is when a patient experiences trauma to the mouth. This may include a fall, accident, or injury.

Teeth Grinding

Chronic grinding of the teeth or bruxism can also cause the teeth to slowly start to shift over time.

Teeth Shifting Signs

Common signs associated with shifting teeth are summarized below.

Crooked or Crowded Teeth

When patients notice that their teeth are becoming crooked or starting to crowd, it can be a sign of shifting. This is typically caused by factors such as gum disease, tooth loss, or bruxism.

Gaps in the Teeth

Another sign of the teeth shifting is when patients start to notice gaps developing between their teeth. This may occur due to gum disease, tooth loss, or other oral health issues.

Bite Changes

Recent changes in your bite or how the teeth fit together can also be an indicator that the teeth are moving. This can include difficulty chewing or discomfort when biting down. Possible causes for this can include tooth loss, gum disease, and trauma to the mouth.


The teeth may also be shifting when the patient starts to notice changes in their speech, including difficulty pronouncing certain words or a lisp. Challenges with speech can be caused by changes to the teeth’s position.

Any time there are signs of the teeth starting to shift, patients should follow up with their dentist right away. The dentist can complete an examination and obtain x-rays to help determine the cause. Once the cause is identified, the dentist can review treatment options. Common treatments for shifting teeth are summarized below.

Orthodontic Procedures

Teeth which shift due to crowding or misalignment often benefit from an orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign. These procedures can move the teeth into the desired location.



When the teeth start to shift after an orthodontic procedure or due to tooth loss, the dental professional may suggest the use of a retainer to prevent movement.


Dental Implants

Patients with a missing tooth are encouraged to replace the tooth in a timely manner. An excellent solution for this is a dental implant which has the appearance and function of a natural tooth. Implants also prevent the other natural teeth from shifting into the open space.


Gum Disease

Shifting teeth caused by gum disease will require treatment and improved oral hygiene. It is critical to maintain healthy gums which can support the teeth. Treating gum disease aids in preventing movement of the teeth and tooth loss.


Patients who notice any types of changes in the alignment or spacing of their teeth should contact their dentist right away. Movement of the teeth is a serious problem which can cause various issues. In order to prevent further damage and preserve the teeth, prompt treatment is critical.

Shifting Teeth with Age