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.

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

  1. Alexis says:

    I’ve had braces on for almost 3 months now, and a tooth next to my two front teeth seem to on its way to getting behind my front tooth. Also, I have an overbite but my bottom teeth hit the backs of my front teeth. What’s going on?? Also, my tooth is starting to wiggle a bit, and it’s an adult tooth w/ a bracket and a wire on it, is that normal?

    • All of this could be perfectly normal as explained in my article. The best way to know for sure however is to ask your orthodontist the next time you’re in the office.

  2. Jody says:

    Half of the upper teeth on one side of my face seem to be getting “lower” than the other half. so much so I now have a crooked smile ie the side with the lower teeth shows more toothiness to my smile than the other side. I have been told the other half will drop down as well with time “after” the braces are off. the braces are supposed to be coming off soon I am told. Will the other half really “drop down ” afterwards? why doesn’t it drop down now?

    Also can braces make your jaw bigger- seems the lower half of my face is now bigger than the upper half when i compare to old photos.

    • I wouldn’t count on anything evening out or getting better after your braces come off. If you are unhappy with the asymmetry of your smile, you need to address it with your orthodontist or get a second opinion. I can’t remember an asymmetry like you’re describing just resolving on its own.

  3. Linda says:

    Is it common to develop an under bite during the bracing process? My daughter was missing lateral incisors. We decided to pull in rather than make space for implants. Never had a problem with under bite before but 2 years in she has developed a noticeable under bite. Thank you.

    • A dental arch is meant to have the same number of teeth on the top as on the bottom. If you try to close the upper spaces (and the jaws are the same size), you’ll create and under bite. Will it remain? That depends upon what else the orthodontist is doing to move the rest of the upper teeth forward. If the rest of the bite and the jaws are normal, closing the spaces can be difficult and take a long time.

  4. Urfa says:

    I have had braces for over a month now for gap between front teeth.
    After the first 5 weeks the gap seemed smaller and the front teeth were prfectly aligned..
    2 days back i got them tightened and now one of my front teeth is pushed back …
    Will it get aligned until my next appointment???

  5. Laura says:

    I have adult braces for my cross bite- also wanting to correct my slight underbite. Since getting braces I have noticed that my teeth are straighter. However, my front bottom tooth is slightly over my front top tooth. Is this normal? And will it be corrected in its own time?

    • It is common for the bite to get worse before it gets better. Hopefully your orthodontist has explained how he is going to correct the underbite going forward. The braces alone won’t fix it without some additional force, removal or tooth structure, or surgery. Good luck!

  6. Jenna says:

    I’ve had braces in for exactly 1 year now. My top teeth are almost straight with a gap between the two front teeth. I got my bottom braces in first but they haven’t moved at all. I’ve been following everything my orthodontist has been telling me but still no progress on the bottom teeth especially the front two. I’m only supposed to have my braces in for 16 to 18 months. How long does it take for the bottom teeth to move?

  7. Darna Po says:

    Good day! I have been worrying about this lower right canine tooth which seemed to be “taller” now. I told my ortho that the bracket on that tooth comes off because my upper teeth hits it when I bite. So she adjusted the bracket and placed in near my gumline. Now it is very noticeable that that tooth is getting “taller” which, I think, is because of the placement of the bracket. It seemed that the tooth has been pulled upwards. Is this normal? I am so worried because the tooth might be loosened. Will the tooth be pulled back lower?

  8. DW says:

    My daughter just got her braces a little over a month ago and the front teeth have been pulled off center.

    • Some slight movement after the removal of braces is not preventable. The body constantly changes and adapts. The purpose of retainers is to minimize that movement. If you think the amount of “settling” is too much, please see your orthodontist right away.

  9. Anandhu says:

    Hey doctor!I’ve have been wearing my braces for 3 months now,and I think that my upper teeth on the front are leaning forward.. and none of my teeth was removed for the process.Is it because of overcrowding?

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