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.

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

  1. Hilary says:

    Hi Dr J!
    I am a 40 year old with a chronic crossbite and just got Damon Clear fitted yesterday on my top at first. My question is, I now don’t seem to know what to do with my tongue. It doesn’t lie flat anymore and I feel it on the back of my teeth whereas I didn’t before.
    Is that normal?
    Thanks! x

    • Your braces did not change your tongue position. You might be sticking your tongue up there because the braces feel different or new, but what you are describing is not a common complaint that I get in my office

  2. Oly Joy says:

    Hi, i had braces fitted 4months ago. At first my bite was closed even if my lower teeth are crooked. However, after a month, my lower right second molar moved inward making misaligned with the upper ones, giving me an open bite since that tooth hits the corner of my upper molar. Now I cant speak properly specially when saying S and my saliva sprinkles uncontrollably. Is this normal? I complained to my dr already and he added another braces to the 3rd molar as the last lock in order to pull my second molar out. but its already one week and i dont feel any changes. Any advise? Thanks!

    • Transitional changes in your bite are common in treatment. It sounds like you are talking to your orthodontist about what you are feeling and that is critical. Good luck!

  3. Danya Gutierrez says:

    I got braces about a year ago, and about 8 months into the process, I noticed that my overbite now looks terrible! I am very worried about this, and other people are starting to notice too. I only have braces on my top teeth so I don’t have a rubber band connecting the top jaw to the bottom jaw. I also haven’t had any teeth taken out although, since I am still a child, my teeth are struggling to get out. This is causing the new teeth to grow in on top of the old ones, and I can wiggle out the old ones because my braces won’t let me. I am very worried for the current state of my teeth because of this. Any advice on what I should do? Thank you!

    • I would discuss this with your orthodontist at your next appointment. What is his plan for reducing your overbite? Why aren’t the bottom braces on? Insist upon answers.

  4. ZULAN says:

    I will have had my braces for 2 years come August 2015. My bottom teeth are straight (always have been) but the biggest issue right now is getting my front two teeth to pull out more. They tend to slant back in towards my molars currently. It’s a slight bend, but it is what is making my teeth not appear straight and flush. The most troublesome of the two front teeth has been my left one. They have been trying for a while to move it, yet it is being really really stuborn. We have moved brackets, changed the archwire to the strongest one, and it still isn’t doing much in the way of straightening up. My question is what is usually next to get that one front tooth to respond to the stimulus? I really want to move forward with this, and I don’t mind discomfort if it means that the process will be more effective. Thanks for your advice!

    • The condition you’re describing is known as torque, or in your case a lack of torque. There are several ways to torque a tooth, but the easiest is to add “torque” to the rectangular wire that fits into that bracket. When your orthodontist inserts it and ties it in, it should feel VERY tight on that tooth. This movement cannot be done with round or small wires. If he’s been doing this for months without any success, it is possible that the tooth is stuck or ankylosed. It is not common, but some teeth get fused to the bond and cannot be moved with braces. This happens to teeth that may have experienced trauma in the past. If they can’t be moved, they may have to be restored with crowns or veneers to make them look right.

      • ZULAN says:

        It has made SOME progress, but it just isn’t moving very quickly after the initial movement. Since it’s moved at all, I assume that steers me clear of the ankylosed realm (although I do have two ankylosed baby molars that didn’t have adult teeth behind them). But besides the square wire apply torque, there is no other method that can pull that bad boy out more quickly?

        • Torquing a tooth is one of the slowest tooth movements because you’re moving the part of the tooth that is anchored in the bone. It just takes time and force. Good luck!

  5. Neve says:

    Hi I’ve had braces for over a year now and I now have elastics on my first hook on the bottom and my hook at the very back but my bottom teeth look slanted to one side because of the elastic on my right side is pulling them I don’t know if I should contact my orthodontist or just leave it and it will straighten them out.

  6. Katherine says:

    Hello, I had my braces tightened about 3 weeks ago and I noticed my bottom two lower front teeth have become more crooked, is that common since the teeth are aligning?

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