Why Are My Teeth Shifting After Having Braces?

Posted On: September 21, 2020

Uh oh! It’s been a few years since you’ve completed orthodontic treatment and you’re wondering why your teeth are shifting after having braces. Did you know the #1 reason this occurs is due to the lack of retainer wear? Retainers are actually the only way to prevent your teeth from wanting to go back into their old position. If you are not wearing your retainer regularly after having braces, your teeth may want to shift for a variety of reasons…

Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding or clenching your teeth can be a very destructive. Not only does it wear down the enamel on your teeth, but it can also result in shorter teeth and bite/facial changes. Grinding puts unnecessary pressure on your teeth which causes them to shift in different directions.

Tooth Loss

When you have a missing tooth, the teeth on either side will want to drift into the empty space causing total misalignment. This is why it is always a good idea to replace the missing tooth with an implant, fixed bridge or removable partial. At the very least, wearing a retainer every night will prevent teeth shifting.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease occurs when the gums surrounding your teeth become so damaged it eventually destroys the bone supporting your teeth. When this occurs, teeth become more mobile causing them to move in different directions and/or fall out completely.


Natural physiologic drift is what happens when teeth move as you age. Your facial bones continue to grow throughout your lifetime usually resulting in the lower jaw growing forward and becoming more narrow. This causes your lower teeth to crow or overlap.


Relapse occurs because teeth have memory and will want to move back into the position they were in before you had braces.

Preventing Your Teeth from Shifting

If you want to make sure your teeth do not shift after having braces, it’s extremely important that your remember to wear your retainer every night! If you realize you missed a few days and your retainer is no longer fitting properly, call your orthodontist immediately. This could be due to a damaged retainer or your teeth already starting to shift. If the retainer you wear is permanent (bonded) your orthodontist will want to make sure it is still working properly and hasn’t broken without you being aware.

Here at Fry Orthodontics, we encourage you to see your dentist every 6 months to minimize decay and prevent periodontitis. Also be sure to address any bite problems you may be experiencing at this time along with grinding issues. By staying on top of your oral health, you can prevent many issues from progressing and your teeth from shifting. Above all else, always remember how important retainer wear is. At Fry Orthodontics, we only want our patients to have to wear braces once.