Shifting Teeth with Age

As you may be aware, the human body undergoes all sorts of changes as we age. Often, these changes happen so gradually as to go largely unnoticed, though they might indicate underlying issues that should be addressed. One of these changes could include shifting teeth. While many people aren’t aware of this, it’s possible for a person’s teeth to move as they age, which could cause complications that require treatment. Some of the more common causes of teeth shifting as we age include normal pressures and wear and tear on the teeth, though certain wear could cause more dramatic shifts; for example, habitual grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw, as well as gum recession and bone loss, can cause significant movement in the teeth that can come with pain, discomfort, and destructive symptoms.

Grinding and clenching the jaw is an often-unconscious habit that often occurs in a person’s sleep. The disproportionate pressure this habit places on the molars can push the teeth out of place and weaken them, increasing the likelihood of dental fracture or even tooth loss while encouraging tooth migration. This habit can also cause sensitivity in the teeth, headaches, and jaw pain, and can be addressed with dental interventions that include mouthguards and stress-reduction practices. While not unique to aging, the effects of chronic clenching and grinding can be cumulative and become more apparent as a person ages.

Aging also often comes with a decrease in bone density or bone mass. As the bones in the jaw weaken and diminish, the gum tissue recedes, creating the appearance of teeth that are longer than normal. As the gums, ligaments, and bone continue to weaken, the teeth can shift more easily. It’s more common for the lower teeth to shift before the upper teeth do; as they shift, they can interfere with the upper teeth while chewing, eroding dental enamel while pushing the top teeth out of alignment as well.

While some measure of tooth shifting is normal as people age, there are steps we can take to minimize these effects and prevent complications from arising. A solid oral hygiene routine can make a huge difference in maintaining the stability and position of the teeth, preventing gum disease even when the gum tissue has begun to recede. In addition to twice-daily brushing and daily flossing, seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings can reduce the likelihood of gum disease and reverse its effects when it does develop, keeping the smile straight, strong, and healthy.

You may also want to talk to your dentist about restorative options like dental crowns or veneers that can prevent the teeth from shifting, and, if your teeth have shifted significantly, ask about orthodontic treatments like braces, retainers, or invisalign. If you’ve had orthodontic treatment already, be sure to wear your retainers as recommended by your orthodontist. If you don’t already have a mouthguard and suspect that you chronically clench or grind your teeth, ask your dentist for an evaluation and for recommendations. With periodic check ups from a dental professional, you can intercept shifting teeth before complications arise, treating the issue as preferred and preventing additional movement of the teeth as you age.

Symptoms & Symptoms of Shifting Teeth