Dr. Greg Jorgensen
(505) 891-9440
1401 Barbara Loop SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

The Jorgensen Orthodontics Blog

Could My New Braces Be Making My Teeth Worse?

Posted by Dr. Jorgensen on July 26th, 2011

I just got my new braces on last week. Funny, but I think they’re making my teeth worse! I have a gap where there wasn’t one before and one of my lower front teeth is now more crooked that when I started. Is this normal?

Straightening the teeth is a dynamic process; your teeth will be changing throughout treatment. During the process of alignment, especially during the first 6 months, you may notice that things look worse before they look better. Here’s why:

Although your teeth are crowded and crooked when you first come in to see me, they have usually drifted into a position where they are relatively stable and functional. Your body is amazing at adapting to problems that exist. If you have a lower jaw that is smaller than the upper for example, the top teeth will be pushed back by your upper lip and your lower teeth will be pushed forward by your tongue. We call these “dental compensations.” If the teeth are crowded, the crowding is usually spread evenly among the teeth.

We approach treatment in stages. The first stage is to unravel the crowding. If you have teeth removed, you may notice improvements in the appearance of your teeth right away. If you do not, you may actually notice changes in the alignment of your teeth that temporary make them look worse. You could get spaces where there were none before. You may notice that teeth that were once straight now overlap. You might even notice that although most teeth look straighter, one or two may actually get more crooked! This is because the braces will take all of the crowding that was spread out over several teeth and consolidate it in one or two areas. This is completely normal and necessary.

In the process of removing dental compensations, you will notice changes in the relationship of the upper and lower teeth. If you have a lower jaw that is smaller than your upper, aligning the teeth may actually create more of an overbite. If your upper jaw is smaller than your lower, aligning the arches may create an underbite where there wasn’t one before. These changes in your bite are normal during treatment and should be anticipated.

After the crowding is resolved and the teeth are aligned, the next step is to level the arches. If you start with a deep bite, the goal is to “open the bite” so that your lower teeth are more visible. If you start with an open bite, we’ll want to deepen the bite so the top teeth overlap the bottom ones. About the same time we address the vertical relationship, we also work to make the width of the upper and lower arches match (coordinate the arches).

The final stage of treatment is to improve the “overbite” or underbite. This may be done with rubber bands, functional appliances, extractions, or orthognathic surgery. Because the teeth are usually straight by this stage, this is the time that is the most frustrating for patients. This is when we start hearing “When will I be getting my braces off?”

Understanding this sequence will give you an idea of where you are in your treatment. Knowing that there will be transitional changes along the way that may actually make things look worse before they look better will make you more confident that your treatment is going as expected.


NOTE: The author, Dr. Greg Jorgensen, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (a suburb on the Westside of Albuquerque). He was trained at BYU, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Iowa in the United States. Dr. Jorgensen’s 25 years of specialty practice and nearly 10,000 finished cases qualify him an expert in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems (including conventional braces, Damon and other self-ligating brackets, Suresmile, and lingual braces). This blog is for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. Jorgensen is licensed to diagnose and treat patients only in the state of New Mexico. He cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can he select treatment plans for readers. Please understand that because he has tens of thousands of readers each month, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO RESPOND TO EVERY QUESTION. Please read all of the comments associated with each article as most of the questions he receives each week have been asked and answered previously. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.

325 comments so far in response to “Could My New Braces Be Making My Teeth Worse?”

  1. Brenda says:

    Hi Dr, my orthodontist had given me bigger elastics(less stiff) than before for my canines. Is this normal or they gave me the wrong ones?

    • We change the strength, length, position, and direction of pull with elastics throughout treatment. Just because orthodontists change something as a case progresses in no way means that something was done wrong. Please trust your doctor or consider getting a new one.

  2. Rose says:


    My orthodontist is treating my class II malocclusion and a few crooked teeth with Invisalign. After my first set of trays all my teeth were straight, but I was left with an open posterior bite and gaps in my lower teeth due to too much IPR. I’m now on my second set of trays and my orthodontist is trying to close the gaps in my lower teeth by pulling them back with class III elastics. This has created a 4.5mm overjet when I had none before. I’m only 1/4 of the way done with my second set of trays and I’m worried my overjet is going to be huge by the time I’m finished. When I eat my lower teeth hit my gums but my orthodontist doesn’t seem concerned. Does this sound normal?

    • It doesn’t sound normal from what you’re described, but it doesn’t sound like your doctor is finished yet. Please discuss your concerns with your doctor and make sure you’re on the same page before he ends your treatment. It is not unusual for patients to require 2 or 3 sets of aligners. Good luck!

  3. Sierra says:

    I got a gap in my teeth from wearing these braces. I just had my first adjustment. I notice a gap on the left side of my front teeth- is this normal? I never had gaps before.

  4. Irenea says:

    It’s going to be a year of wearing traditional metal braces and my top front teeth are not aligned and getting crooked. Is this normal after a year?

  5. Joe says:

    Hello, I am currently in my sixth month of having cfast my incisors on my top teeth have been pulled down a lot and I and currently on my second arch wire, my power teeth are still on the first, to sort out the crowding, I just wanted to ask if it’s normal for my front teeth to be slanted outwards, will the last arch wire pull them back in?

    • “Slanting outwards” usually means that the teeth were crowded and have now assumed a larger circumference as they have been aligned. The only way to pull them back is to create additional room by removing some enamel, pulling some teeth, or using some form of “retraction mechanics” (like headgear, springs, TADS, etc.). I can’t tell you what would be appropriate for you specifically, but your orthodontist who is treating you can (or should be able to). Good luck!

Leave a Comment

Back to Top

Your account login
Your rewards
Schedule an appointment with our talented orthodontist online