We all experience many changes as we age. While some of these changes are expected as we grow into adulthood, many of them can go unnoticed. While you’ve likely grown out of measuring your height against a door frame or wall, paying attention to any changes in your body is still very important. One of the most common physical changes due to age is shifting teeth. Not everybody knows that our teeth can move and shift as we age. Read on to learn what signs to watch out for and what can be done about shifting teeth due to age.

Why Do Teeth Shift As We Age?

Even for those who keep to a strict schedule of daily brushing and flossing, teeth change as we age. But this isn’t automatically a cause for worry, as these changes won’t happen suddenly, but are tiny changes that occur gradually over a long life that eventually add up. A few of the most common causes of shifting teeth with age are:

Clenching & Grinding Teeth Over Time

The habit of clenching and grinding teeth is typically an unconscious or subconscious action that occurs throughout the day or overnight during sleep. As the teeth grind together or the jaw is clenched, the molars experience a tremendous amount of pressure. Over time, those molars start shifting and pushing the other teeth out of alignment. Jaw clenching and tooth grinding can also cause significant wear on the teeth, in some cases causing them to chip or break. Eventually, headaches may begin to develop, tooth sensitivity, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and pain and discomfort.

Gum Recession & Bone Loss

As we age, it is normal to gradually experience loss of bone or bone density, which includes the teeth. This bone loss can cause gum recession, which can make the teeth appear longer. Over time, bone, gum tissue, and ligaments become weaker, allowing the teeth to shift more easily. In most cases, the lower teeth shift before the upper teeth, often causing the lower teeth to bump or rub against the upper teeth when biting down or chewing. As a result, the top teeth can shift forward and enamel can become worn.

How to Prevent Your Teeth From Shifting

While shifting teeth is considered to be a normal and expected part of aging, not everyone’s teeth will shift as they get older. There are a few things that we can do to help prevent or delay age-related teeth shifting.

The best way to prevent receding gums and shifted and weakened teeth is to practice a strong oral hygiene routine daily. By simply brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing once per day, and visiting your dentist for routine checkups and cleanings, you can maintain strong and healthy teeth and gums. In fact, flossing is one of the best things you can do for gum health and prevent recession. Receding gum lines pose a major risk to overall oral health, as it can cause plaque to build up between teeth leading to cavities, decay, and bone loss. Don’t allow a poor oral hygiene practice to affect your straight, healthy smile negatively.

It can also be helpful to speak to your dentist about restorative dentistry options such as veneers or crowns to help prevent teeth from shifting. If you had braces or other orthodontic treatment done, it is incredibly important to continue to wear retainers or other aligners as recommended by your orthodontist. Asking your dentist about wearing a fitted mouthguard at night to prevent damaging your teeth by grinding or clenching in your sleep is also a good idea.

How Are Shifting Teeth Treated?

If you’ve noticed that your teeth are beginning to shift, it is important to contact your dentist right away. With a regular dental cleaning and check-up schedule, your dentist will be able to catch any changes before they become a larger problem. They may also recommend a treatment plan or refer you to an orthodontist to correct any shifting or misalignment that has already occurred, as well as prevent further shifting over time.

At Stonegate Dental, we offer treatment for patients of all ages with a focus on maintaining a gorgeous and healthy smile – for life! Our experienced and friendly team can help you find the best oral hygiene practices, maintain good oral health, and create a plan to keep your teeth healthy and beautiful for years to come. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment!