28. July 2011 21:24
Many patients experience teeth that seem to shift over time. Young patients that complete orthodontics must wear some type of retainer to keep their teeth straight. This retainer can be either a removable device, if the patient is compliant or a permanent retainer attached to the teeth. As children grow into young adults, most people assume that by 18 the growth spurt is over. This is not correct. Between the ages 18-into the early 20's the lower jaw will continue to grow. As the jaw grows, it can lock against the upper teeth and something has to give. Often the lower teeth will begin to crowd or the upper teeth can flare out wards, creating spaces between the front teeth. Another consequence is the upper and lower teeth will grind against each other creating chips and cracks in these teeth over time.
Older patients can also have teeth that move. The first thing a patient must be aware of is the fact that gum disease and subsequent bone loss can allow teeth to loosen and move. This is a very serious problem and patients need to address the gum disease and seek treatment immediately if it exists. Now let us assume that the moving teeth are not from gum disease. As patients age, the upper and lower jaws tend to compress and the teeth in the "arch", also visible as the "U" shape of the teeth, become more narrow. Now the "U" shape of the teeth can become more like a "V" shape. This results in a smile that is not as full in the face and collapses muscles in the face, making it more sunken and appear "caved in". This can also be prevented with night guards or retainers to hold the teeth in place. A patient is never to old to have these appliances to maintain their smile. A little prevention can go a long way to keeping your smile beautiful.
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