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.

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

  1. lizzy says:

    Ive had braces for almost 3 years now and i have an over bite but my bottom teeth are moving inward and Its making it see as if my overbite hasnt progressed. Whats happening?

  2. Ellie says:

    Hey doc, i’ve had my braces on since 3 years ago. But i realized that my teeth doesnt look like what it supposed to be. I still have overbite and yes i also have a gap where there wasn’t one before but it had been there since last year. I’m worried that it takes too long to fix my teeth. Is it still considered as normal?

    • If you’ve had your braces three years and you’re not happy, you need to sit down with your orthodontist and discuss your concerns. Very few cases take three years in this day and age.

  3. Summer says:

    I have a receding small jaw which causes overbite and overjet. I had braces in 2002 when I was 16. 4 Teeth were extracted. The results were not great and I did not wear my retainers. So upper front teeth are protruding again. In 2014, I decided to have braces again and two upper wisdom teeth were removed. I started to wear rubber bands in April 2015 until now, so more than a year. I notice my lower teeth are tilted forward to meet the upper teeth.
    My questions are:
    1) My orthodontist said rubber bands move upper teeth back and lower teeth forward. Will the molar teeth move to the wisdom teeth space?
    2) Is this normal to have lower teeth tilted? I am so concerned. What measures can be used to tell the results are safe and great?

    • The movement of the teeth to compensate for your small lower jaw is not only normal, it is necessary. If you have a small lower jaw, the lower front teeth must move forward and the uppers need to move back. The only way to avoid these “dental compensations” would be to have your lower jaw moved forward (surgery). The wisdom teeth are not a part of this discussion at all. They do not provide any additional space as they are too far from the front teeth where the overbite is noticed.

  4. Harman says:

    My braces are fine, but my bottom two teeth (where the braces end) are pushing INWARDS i dont remember them like that they are REALLY bad is there anything my ortho can do right away or do i have to wait for retainers

  5. Haaj says:

    Hey. I started wearing braces on December 2015 and was told to wear it for 6 months only, because i just had two slightly crooked teeth besides my central incisors. Now that after 6 months, the crooked ones have become in position but one of the middle tooth became a little/slight dislocated from the original position. I was supposed to get the braces removed yesterday but the dentist noticed this and changed my wires to a much thicker one and asked me to wear it for one more month. After tightening my tooth hurts badly just like how it pained when i got my braces for the first time.
    So is this dislocated tooth thing normal and will it get back to the original position?

  6. Chisa says:

    My teeth were never that bad before. I did have a crossbite though. Because of this, i had to have power chains months 3,4 and 5. Now I’m in month 6 and they are bringing that back tooth forward. it’s definitely the ugliest phase so far, but now I can see progress and I’m happy with how things are turning out. Tanks for this description, it helped me out a lot.

  7. Destini says:

    I have more spaces than I did when I first got my braces. I just got them 3 months ago is this normal?

  8. Anaz says:

    Hey doc,I had my braces one day ago for correcting the gap between the upper incisors.but my upper and lower front teeth are terribly aching especially during brushing…is it common.

  9. Que says:

    I ‘ve been wearing braces for 2 months but only on the upper teeth . But then I noticed gaps starting to appear on my lowe teeth . Is it normal ?

    • That doesn’t make sense. I would have your orthodontist take a look next time you’re there. Putting braces on the upper shouldn’t make the bottom teeth separate.

  10. V.M says:

    I got braces (on my top teeth only for now) 2 days ago and I’v noticed that 2 of my back teeth (on both sides) feel like they’re in the way of my bite. My bite feels wrong and (my teeth still hurt) and the teeth themselves feel loose and feel like they’re stopping the rest of my teeth from touching. Is this normal??

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