Shifting Teeth with Age

The body undergoes many different types of changes over time. These changes may be expected as a patient ages, however, many changes are often not even noticed. While patients likely aren’t keeping track of their height as they did when they were young on a wall, it is helpful to be aware of the changes our body endures. A specific change that can occur with age is shifting teeth. It is quite common for the teeth to slowly move as a patient gets older. Helpful information related to teeth shifting with age is provided below.


In order to maintain good oral health, it is important to practice good oral hygiene. Patients who consistently brush and floss their teeth can even experience movement as they age. The teeth naturally experience minor and slow changes over time. As we age, these small movements can add up and become more noticeable. Below are some of the most common causes for the teeth to shift as the patient ages.


Grinding & Clenching

Chronic grinding or bruxism and clenching of the jaw often occur when the patient is sleeping. In other cases, the patient may not even be aware of the habit. When teeth grind together or patients clench their jaw, there is a great deal of pressure placed on the molars. The molars can slowly begin to shift, pushing other teeth out of alignment. Other issues associated with grinding and clenching include wear, chips, cracks, and broken teeth. Some of the side effects may include pain, headaches, increased sensitivity, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.


Gum Recession and Bone Loss

It is relatively common to experience a loss of bone or bone density over time. This includes the teeth as well. Bone loss can result in receding gums, which can give the teeth a longer appearance. The ligaments, gum tissue, and bone can become weak over time. This ultimately makes it more likely for the teeth to shift and more. In general, the lower teeth start to shift prior to the upper teeth. When chewing, the lower teeth will bump up against the upper teeth. These forces can damage the enamel and result in the top teeth shifting forward.



While teeth shifting is normal and quite common as a patient ages, there are certain things patients can do to minimize or prevent the teeth from experience significant movement.


First and foremost, it is critical for patients to consistently practice good oral hygiene. This includes at least twice daily brushing and daily flossing. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums help prevent receding gums. Patients who fail to take care of their oral health can allow for the buildup of plaque and experience bone loss, decay, gum disease, and cavities. Patients should also make regular visits to the dentist for an examination and professional cleaning.


Patients who are missing a tooth or are having a tooth extracted should talk to their dental professional about tooth-replacement treatment options. Veneers and crowns can also restore a weak or damaged tooth and help prevent movement of the teeth. Patients who have completed orthodontic treatments such as braces or clear aligners should ensure they wear retainers provided by the orthodontist. Failure to wear the retainer can result in the teeth shifting back into the original position. A night guard can also be a good solution for patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaw while sleeping. The guard helps protect the teeth from damage.


Patients who begin to notice a change in the position of their teeth or bite should follow up with their dentist or orthodontist right away. Regular visits to the dentist helps identify any shifting of the teeth or other problems. This ensures the issue is addressed in a timely manner and helps prevent serious issues from developing. When shifting has taken place, patients should work with the dentist or orthodontist to discuss their options for treatment. It is important to correct any shifting in order to prevent additional shifting and further damage.

Symptoms & Symptoms of Shifting Teeth