In a perfect world, everyone would have teeth as straight and neat as the keys of a piano. Unfortunately, crooked teeth are a reality for many. In fact, the College of Dentistry at the University of Illinois Chicago has noted that a rising number of adults are seeking treatment for dental alignment issues. But what do you do if you’d like to fix crooked teeth after orthodontic treatment? Here are three solutions that could help.
Your teeth might naturally shift after treatment with braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontics.
“There is a phenomenon known as mesial drift, where the teeth have a natural tendency to move toward the middle of the dental arch,” Christine Songco, RDH, a California-based registered dental hygienist, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
According to Songco, biting forces from clenching, grinding, and parafunctional habits (like nail biting) can also contribute to tooth misalignment and relapse after orthodontic treatment with braces.
So, how can this be prevented or mitigated? By wearing your dental retainer as directed once your braces come off. For many, this can mean wearing retainers nightly for life.
“Retainers are designed to hold teeth in place,” Songco says. “In minor cases, retainers can also help to correct crooked teeth after orthodontic treatment (i.e., braces) if only one or a few teeth are involved. The dentist or orthodontist will manipulate the appliance or even the tooth structure to properly align the teeth.”
But what if your case is a bit more severe and a retainer just won’t cut it? Dental aligners may be the answer.
“The most common cause of crooked teeth after braces is not wearing a retainer as directed,” Songco says. “Dental aligners can help fix this problem if you are a good candidate, meaning the misalignment of the teeth is not too severe.”
Unlike traditional metal or ceramic braces, which are affixed to the teeth, clear aligners correct crooked teeth via a series of invisible, custom-fitted dental trays. Essentially, aligners apply the same principles as braces as they create sustained force to the teeth over time, which causes positional shift.
Veneers and crowns
Depending on the severity and circumstances of the misalignment, tooth-colored restorations like veneers and crowns may be an option for correcting crooked teeth after braces.
According to the Mayo Dental and Impact Clinic, veneers are thin porcelain devices that are designed to fit over the entire front side of a tooth. Veneers can enhance the appearance of the natural tooth—usually with minimal loss of tooth structure.
If your teeth have become crooked due to severe tooth decay or breakage, crowns could help. Crowns are installed directly onto the remaining tooth structure in order to strengthen it and give the appearance of a full, natural tooth.
“For crowns to fit properly, some of the tooth and gum are removed, which is typically not the case with braces. Neither crowns nor veneers are ideal solutions for correcting crooked teeth because they are meant to improve esthetics and functionality of teeth, not necessarily for treating misalignment,” Songco says.
In other words, veneers and crowns don’t straighten teeth. Rather, they present the illusion of straight teeth. But, they can boost the confidence of your smile all the same.
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