Updated: May 19
Just had your braces on a month ago but you're starting to notice that your teeth are feeling a little looser, is it just your imagination? If they are, should you be concerned?
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Can braces make your teeth loose?
Yes it can! Braces or rather orthodontic treatment in general, including clear aligners, will make your teeth feel loose but that is intentional. When we want to move teeth, we will need them to loosen up, otherwise they wouldn't move. The reason why they get this way is due to the way that teeth move through your bone. Please refer to diagram below.
Teeth don't miraculously glide through bone like your friendly ghost Casper does. As per the diagram, when a tooth is trying to move to the right:
Your body will eat away at the bone on the right side to create space for it to move. This side is the compression side, where bone resorption occurs. It is accomplished by osteoclast cells in our body.
The left side of the tooth will consequently have a gap after the tooth has moved. This side is the tension side, where bone formation occurs. It is accomplished by osteoblast cells in our body.
Basically, to move a tooth to the right our body has to eat away at the bone to the right and then rebuild bone back on the left side. It is because the tooth is in this dynamic state, that we feel the tooth being loose. This is all on purpose and we want this to happen so that the teeth can move.
Will your teeth fall out from braces?
Even though the teeth don't feel as stable as they use to during braces, they will not spontaneously fall out of your mouth. Rest assured, it would take more force than just braces to remove a tooth. You would still need to elevate and luxate the tooth, followed by forceps to extract it completely. Besides if you have the brackets and wires on, they will serve to hold the teeth in by re-enforcing it.
Does it weaken your teeth and roots?
For the vast majority of orthodontic cases, assuming that it is not a complex one, it shouldn't affect the health of your teeth and their roots. Your teeth should return to the state that they were in after you finish braces. There are exceptions where it may weaken your roots:
Complex movements that put a lot of force on the teeth
Treatment lasting for more than 3 years
In the above two cases, there is a chance that a shortening of the roots may occur. You may notice on the dental x ray that the roots of the teeth look shorter than when they started.
Compare the above two x rays. Look at how short the roots are in the first x ray compared to the second. There is no concrete number for the prevalence of root resorption for orthodontic treatment. There are only certain factors that increase the risk of it occuring. What we do know is that, we do see evidence of it from time to time.
How do you make the loose teeth tighter?
The good news is that you can tighten and stabilize the teeth even when they've become loose. The only caveat is that we have to wait until you finish braces treatment. While they are moving, we want them to be loose but after they are done moving, we can stabilize them. Typically this is the part where you have to wear diligently your retainers for the next 6 months.
The first 6 months right after finishing braces are the most crucial because this is the tightening period. You can think of the retainers acting like a cast for a broken arm. We are waiting for the osteoblasts to fill back in the bone on the tension side. Once the bone is all filled in, the teeth will feel sturdy once again.
Just to remind you, you should still wear your retainers every night even after finishing the 6 months so that you can prevent them from trying to shift throughout the day. You don't want to waste all of your effort and end up doing braces again!
Food considerations for orthodontic treatment
There are certain foods that you should avoid while you have the wires and brackets on because the teeth are not as sturdy while moving.
Hard crunchy foods like popcorn, nuts, and various hard candies.
Sticky foods like caramel, laffy taffy, or chewing gum.
Chewy foods such as bagels or licorice
Stay away from anything that requires a deep bite like apples and corn on the cob.
Aside from that, you can pretty much eat whatever you want. They shouldn't damage the braces but if you do, you should contact your orthodontist right away to have it repaired. You may encounter foods that are okay to eat but they may be messy to clean afterwards. It is up to you whether or not you want to continue eating those types of foods.
To sum it up, yes your teeth will get loose from braces but it is intentional. The teeth will tighten back up with the retainers once you finish treatment. To take care of your braces, you still have to brush for 2 minutes, floss, and use a mouthwash. You may need to spend more time cleaning since the wires and brackets make it more difficult to keep it clean.
Our dentist in long island city, do recommend to follow up very closely with your 6 month cleaning appointments. In fact, it would be an even better idea to be on a 4 month schedule rather than 6 just simply due to the fact that it is more difficult to clean around the braces. You don't want to get new cavities while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Here is a little secret, if you have your wires taken off before you come in for your teeth cleaning at 1311 Jackson Ave Dental, our LIC dentists will thank you from the bottom of their heart because it does make our job that much easier!