cause teeth to shift

5 Things that Can Cause Teeth to Shift

Most people get braces when they are young, either as a child or a teenager. Once they are done with one to two years of brackets, wires, and bands, they probably assume they’ll never need to visit an orthodontist again. You might be one of these people who are now noticing your teeth seem to have shifted over time. Unfortunately, this shifting is fairly common, and there are many different things that can cause teeth to shift. 

Not Wearing a Retainer Can Cause Teeth to Shift

After your braces are removed, your orthodontist will tell you to wear your retainer full-time for up to six months. Once that initial six-month period is done, you need to wear your retainer at night for the rest of your life. Yes, you read that right: the rest of your life. If you don’t (and most people don’t), your teeth will start to shift. The shifting will happen slowly over time, so you won’t notice a difference day by day. But once you reach your early adult years, you may notice misaligned teeth or gaps that weren’t there a few years before. 

Tooth Loss

Whether through surgery, dental disease, or an accident, you can lose teeth during the course of your life. In fact, one in six American adults age 65 or older has no remaining natural teeth! Losing teeth leaves a gap that your remaining teeth will naturally move to fill. This movement causes your teeth to become misaligned or to form gaps. 


As you get older, your lower jaw and teeth will start moving slowly forward in a process called mesial drift. This can cause your bottom teeth to become crowded and misaligned. Additionally, our lips thin as we get older, which can impact the position of our teeth. Since this is a process everyone goes through as they get older, the best prevention is to maintain good oral hygiene as you age. 

Gum or Dental Disease

Oral hygiene is an important part of maintaining optimum bodily health. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, this can lead to bacteria build up, which creates plaque. This plaque, if not cleaned from the teeth, can lead to inflammation along the gum line and cause periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth decay and loss, which can cause teeth to shift and move positions.  

Tooth Enamel Loss

Enamel is the important protection on your teeth that helps prevent cavities and gum disease. Over time, your teeth lose enamel, both naturally and from different food and drink choices. As they lose enamel, their shape gradually changes. This shape-changing process can lead to teeth shifting and moving over time, leaving gaps and misaligned teeth behind. 

If you are ready to meet with an orthodontist for a free evaluation, contact Milnor Orthodontics! We can evaluate your teeth, whether this is your first round of orthodontic treatment, or a second round to address teeth shifting. 

At Milnor Orthodontics, our experts are here to help you achieve a priceless smile. Call our office at (970) 484-3214 or visit to learn more. We're located at 1103 S. Shields St. in Fort Collins, Colorado.