Throughout life our teeth move whether you've had braces as a child or not. It is a common misconception that teeth crowding up at the front is due to wisdom teeth pushing the other teeth forward. Research has shown the presence or absence of wisdom teeth makes no difference to this process. However what has been shown is that the jaw bone shrinks slightly with age and it is most likely this that causes the tooth crowding with age that we so often see. It affects some people more than others and it is difficult to predict if you will be affected. The process happens so slowly that you don't really notice, until you realise that actually your teeth have moved. At this point you have three choices; do nothing, get some retainers made to wear a couple of nights a week to prevent them moving any more, or straighten them first and then wear retainers.
Crooked teeth aren't just unsightly. They are harder to clean and can lead to increased plaque and tartar deposits, which in turn can lead to more gum disease. Also the teeth can wear down unevenly with those pushed out of the way wearing down less and those pushed into the bite wearing down more.
If you have straight teeth and you want them to stay that way, even if you've never had braces, think about having a set of retainers made. Imagine you're an 18 year old with straight teeth, who has never had braces. You might wear them two nights a week if that and they might always go in easily. Great! That means your teeth aren't moving and you don't need to wear them too often. Maybe a couple of years later you go through a phase of finding they are a little tight going in. Your teeth are trying to move. So you wear your retainers a little more often at night for a while and your teeth stay straight! You never experience that ageing effect of increasingly crooked teeth as you get older and you maintain your beautiful youthful smile! Not only that but your straight teeth are easy to keep clean too!
You might not be 18 anymore but it's never too late. If you like the way your teeth are now and don't want to risk them becoming crooked as you age get some retainers made. You really don't need to wear them very often and you'll find you can judge for yourself very easily if you need to wear them or not by now easily they go in. And if your teeth have already moved it's so quick and easy to straighten teeth these days that it's well worth considering. Maybe you do feel it's too late for you and you don't want to go through straightening your teeth now, but maybe you have children in their late teens or twenties. It might be worth suggesting to them that they have some retainers made so they don't suffer from the same dental crowding as you.
Dentistry is changing. As dental health improves we care more about the little things and we set higher standards for dental care. Gone are the days or pulling out all the teeth for dentures as as wedding present. Once we would hardly have thought about crooked teeth, as long as we had a few left to chew on. But these days with a general improvement of dental health many more people want straight teeth that are easy to clean and that stay straight throughout their lives. Fortunately, for most people this is very easy to do!
If you would like more information about dental retainers and whether you could benefit from them then do get in touch with me. I'm always happy to answer any questions you may have.
Dr Lucy Nichols