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.

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

  1. Sravya says:

    I had braces 2 years ago. Currently I am using retainers at night time. Everyday my upper teeth to the right side of my cheek ache badly. Is this normal? Also, I feel like, my upper teeth in the right side are being pushed by the lower teeth. Can teeth be pushed to a particular side? Or, is this only my feeling? Please help.

  2. Lizzie says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m an adult with a good orthodontist, 4 weeks in Damon insignia, 1 wire change. No extractions. Lateral incisor rotated 90 degrees; has spring around it and a clear chain from it to the front tooth to push/pull into alignment. Concern: Front tooth flaring forward within 4 days of recent appointment. Is flaring one of those normal movement things you speak of?

  3. Sophia says:

    I got my braces a few months ago… recently ive notice the their is a gap in between my front tooth. Not sure why??? Pls help

    • It is not uncommon for gaps to come and go during treatment. Usually an elastic “chain” us used to hold the spaces closed, but sometimes spaces still appear. Just point it out to your orthodontist at your next visit and he’ll address it.

    • Chloe says:

      Me too, I’ve had my braces on for about 3 days, and I have noticed that my front teeth are creating a gap in between them, making them appear worse, I am really concerned about my gap, it was not there before, is it normal?

  4. Alina says:

    Hello, dr.Jorgensen! I’m currently in my 6th month of treatment with Damon Q, no extractions, except my wisdom teeth. I’m 30 years old. My problem was moderate/severe crowding. My teeth straightened pretty fast, creating a huge overjet. Now it’s reduced to 2or3mm, maybe due to widening of the upper arch (it was very narrow). It seems that after my front teeth moved forward my cheeks thinned a lot and my face changed drastically. Can you please help me understand why my treatment affects my face that way? I really wish I can have my previous face back, is this possible?

    • Perhaps your cheeks look thinner because your lips are further forward. I would discuss your concerns with your orthodontist. If you want your lips to move back, removing teeth may be required.

  5. T.L. says:

    My teeth are very aligned. People often ask if I’ve had braces since they are nice and straight. However, my dentist wants me to get braces to push my upper front teeth forward so they can add bonding to the backs of those teeth due to erosion of my enamel. Won’t this create an overbite and possibly be unsightly? Won’t this change the shape of my jaw, how my lips fall, and possibly my appearance? Seems extreme, but she said there is no room between my front teeth and my bottom ones for bonding to prevent further erosion. I has a consult with another dentist, and he agreed on the treatment plan.

    • If you are wearing out your teeth, you do need to get them restored. The amount they need to move forward would only be the same place they’d be had you not worn them down. Moving the anterior teeth forward 1mm (give or take) will not affect your profile at all.

  6. Grace Ann says:

    What you said about “aligning the teeth may create more of an overbite” I have this problem I got my braces yesterday my teeth are already moving but whenever I bite down hard my top teeth and braces go forward (I do not have braces on my lower teeth as of yet)

  7. Kate says:

    I’ve had my braces for about 6 months now and its starting to have more of an overbite and my teeth are slanted. Is it normal for this to happen? Will i get a perfect simile after my treatment?

  8. Fiona says:

    I had class 2 malocclusion and having Damon braces with 4 teeth removed and installed 2 microscrews above my two last molar teeth to move my front teeth more backwards. Braces for two years now. With the screws in for about 2 months now and the teeth did go nearer inside but they looked slanting inwards. The other problem is I noticed that the gum above my upper teeth is covering my teeth about half of my braces length. I am worried because my orthodontist is the type who did not care much if I did not raise any concerns. Any advice?

    • Communication between you and your doctor is critical. I can’t comment on your treatment plan, but if you are concerned about how things look or problems with your gums, you need to have a conversation with your doctor or someone at that office.

  9. Gwenevere says:

    Can I get braces if I have a small overbite and a few crooked teeth and possibly a few overlapping teeth? I also noticed my teeth don’t align and I have troubles eating on the right side of my mouth I have been eating on my left side more than anything. So would a recommendation be to get braces? I know most of my family has had to have them when they were younger.

    • It sounds like you would be an excellent candidate for braces. To find out, please go see a local orthodontist who can exam your teeth and help you develop a treatment plan for the correction of the problems that exist.

  10. Hope says:

    I have been in braces for almost 2 years now. I now have an extreme overbite from braces. To correct problem orthodontist have been placing bands on one of the top teeth attaching it to a screw on left bottom gum and right side with bands on one teeth and pulling down to two teeth to bottom. its been over 6 moths doing this method and it seems to not be correcting. Instead my two front teeth continue to push forward. What would be another alternative to pushing teeth back. I am Tired and frustrated. I feel that I look worst than I started please help.

    • If you’ve been in braces two years and your overbite is WORSE, I think I’d seek a second opinion. There may be nothing wrong, but you should have seen measurable improvement within two years

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