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

WorriedI 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 Dr. Jorgensen, they have usually drifted into a position where they are 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 straightening teeth in stages. The first stage is to unravel any 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 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 optimize the over bite or under bite. 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 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 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. Because he has over 25,000 readers each month, it is impossible for him respond to all questions. 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.

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

  1. Marie says:

    Four months ago, my ortho installed these braces. Before, i dont have any gap in my lower front teeth. Is this normal? Thank you.

  2. Jade Scott says:

    Hi, I have had braces for 6 months now ,my upper teeth have straightened out fine and are not as crowded ,but originally my lower right canine and the surrounding teeth were the problem,the orthodontist originally said that he would use interproximal reduction to get rid of overcrowding ,however my lower teeth have become worse and worse and have pushed my lower front teeth in different directions making them overlap each other,however the orthodontist has left and the new orthodontist says there are no notes on what the orginal plan was and when i explained all this ,she said she disagrees and wants to take out the teeth that have overlapped,i however do not want to have the teeth out,my teeth are now worse than when this began and i completely wish i hadn’t had it done in the first place,what do you recommend?

    • If your first orthodontist is gone, you only have two choices: 1) be treated by the one who took over, or 2) find another orthodontist in your area who will take over your treatment. Sorry you’re going through this.

  3. Natasha says:

    I have had braces for seven months now. Whereas I had a mild crossbite, my two front teeth mildly overlapped and the backs didn’t meet, now the back meet and I have a massive overbite. What’s going on?

    • I can’t diagnose individual patients, but it common for the “overbite” to increase after initial alignment as the teeth spread out. Hopefully your orthodontist has a plan for correcting it.

  4. Alexandra says:

    Why are braces creating lots of gaps? I didn’t have any gaps before, though I had one twisted tooth. Is that why I have gaps now and require two springs?

    • If teeth are “leaning” instead of straight, uprighting them can temporarily create spaces. Also, moving teeth forward or backward can temporarily create spaces that will eventually be closed.

  5. Monty says:

    Hi I’ve had my braces for almost two years and I have a gap between my front teeth that has been there since before I got my braces, one of the main reasons I got braces. And it doesn’t seem to be closing in at all and I’m told that im supposed to get my braces off soon, is this gap ever going to be closed? Or am I going to be stuck with my teeth like this??

    • You need to have a “pow wow” with your orthodontist and ask him what’s going on. In my office, we address the chief complaint right from the start. Your gap should be closed by now.

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