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.

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

  1. Sandra says:

    I had Damon braces put on 8 months ago. Everything seems to be going pretty well except I notice that my bottom teeth on the right side are all lower now than the left side. I was concerned that maybe I was wearing them down, but I do see that the wire itself is not level–it slopes down on that side. I’m pretty positive it wasn’t this way when they were first put on. So I’m guessing there is a way to lift these teeth back up so all of my teeth on the bottom will be level? Is this common? I have an ortho apptmt in 3 weeks, but I was glad to see your website so I can ask this question now. Thanks so much!

    • I think that 8 months is long enough to get an idea of where your treatment is going. If you notice that your arch is slanted (or canted) down on the right side, you should point it out to your orthodontist sooner rather than later. It may have something to do with the braces, but it may also have something to do with your jaw structure. Temporary anchors and rubber bands between the upper and lower can be used to help correct this, but you need to get on it before two long or it will end up lengthening your treatment. Good luck!

  2. Darren says:

    Hi Dr. Jorgensen,

    I have my braces for about 6 months now. I am pretty satisfied with the results on my lower teeth – the progress is obvious. However, on my upper teeth, I do not see much progress – my 2 center teeth are now aligned (the right side actually a bit towards the exterior) and there is an obvious asymmetry between the right and left side of the upper crown (the arch is not horizontal – it starts up from the left side and goes down towards the left side). I must admit that the teeth were crowded and the two upper center teeth are not even. My orthodontist says that it may be a problem with the bracket which is not properly glued, but she wants to wait a bit to see if the left teeth will not follow the other one. Is this kind of asymmetry normal for this long (3-4 months now).

    • Three to four months is not very long in orthodontic treatment. I think you need to give your orthodontist some time before you get too concerned. Keep your eye on the progress, but it has not been long enough to see how the final result will turn out.

  3. Jennifer Chapman says:

    We’ve taken our 12 yr. old son to three different orthodontists and have gotten three different opinions. We are at a loss now as to what to do. He has a genetic under bite from his Dad and a cross bite and some teeth are crooked. He is a big boy and will be about 6’4″ according to the Pedi. Two of the dentists want to start treatment right away, the other one says to wait until he is 15 because he may grow out of any treatment we do now. What do you think about starting now or waiting?

    • You need to decide which orthodontist you trust and stick with him or her. Having three opinions will only confuse you. In my practice I usually treat cases like your son in two phases. In phase one I fix the crowding, alignment, and crossbite. This will give him a good smile that he’ll enjoy until he finishes growing. In the second phase (after he’s done growing around age 17 or 18) we address the underbite. Good luck!

  4. Marie Jaclyn says:

    I’m 46 & got braces 4weeks ago to correct a slight overbite. The orthodontist said I was not a candidate for Invisalign. He recommended I have 3 of my 4 wisdom teeth pulled to prevent overcrowding. I did & had significant shifting that made my teeth more misaligned. I saw oral surgeon for implant consult because I already had 2 missing 2nd bicuspids on each side..he said to go ahead & get braces to make room for implants. He’d see me afterwards. Teeth we’re pointing inward and would not allow implants. So got braces & saw teeth immediately starting to straighten. Lost a lot of weight to point of looking sick because I can’t eat. I use to chew with my wisdom teeth & dealt with the two missing bicuspids. I still have 2nd molars on each side so I’m chewing w those & incisors. Have all teeth on top except wisdom. It hurts at bottom because food rubs against my gum where teeth missing. Noticed teeth were straightening at bottom now crooked and wire looks like it’s slanted to right giving my mouth & face a droopy appearance. 1st tightening not until July 7. Should I see ortho about concerns, btw.. So regret getting braces. Should have filled missing teeth with bridges or implants & got a little Botox. Feel like doc applied 1 size fits all approach by suggesting wisdom teeth needed to come out. At my age teeth should not be coming out. I hate that I did not do more research. So depressed

    • Hi Marie. I do not think that removing your wisdom teeth nor the new braces caused some of the things your describing. There is nothing you’ve told me that would lead me to believe that the braces caused your mouth and face to have a droopy appearance (except maybe the weight loss). I have never had a patient worse off after the removal of wisdom teeth. They are usually too far back to be of much good and most times do need to be removed to upright the adjacent teeth for bridges or implants. Discuss your concerns with your orthodontist and then trust his opinion. I think a lot of readers put too much stock in what they read online.

  5. concerned mom says:

    My daughter is 11 years old and she had mild crowding with the upper canines not coming all the way down. Her profile was normal. The ortho pushed her teeth out to accommodate for the canines instead of removing the molars. Now her front teeth are jetted out very far and he wants to pull the bottom teeth with rubber bands to meet the now overbite. The gums in the front are so jetted out, it looks very unnatural to me. I think that moving the bottom teeth up is not the best solution. I spoke with him and he said that we could now extract the molars and he would have a better shot of fixing the bite. If we extract at this point, will the front gums go back to normal after he moves them back? The ortho said he was sorry, he should have caught this before and should have had the extraction conversation with me much earlier.

    • In most cases removing premolars after this has happened can reverse the negative effects. That is assuming that bone support and gingival coverage have not been lost. If not, everything is reversible.

  6. Hanna says:

    Hi Dr. Last week I had upper and lower damon braces fitted, almost immediately I noticed that my lower jaw was protruding and it looks like I now have an underbite, which is a problem I have not previously had, is this normal and part of the process? My final result won’t be like this will it? The orthodontist I am with is very reputable, I am seeing him in a few days as one bracket fell off, but myself and a few friends have family have noticed the protruding lower jaw that was never there before braces, I am very concerned about this and the way it is making me look

    • I cannot comment on your case specifically Hanna, but sometimes braces do make things look worse before they look better. You need to ask your orthodontist about it when you go in to get your bracket fixed.

  7. Gail says:

    46 years old with Braces on now for 6-1/2 years. I originally went to see about an implant when a baby tooth came out where the pre-molar right next to my canine was. Was told there was a perfectly good tooth up there and braces would help fix the gap I had between my front teeth and bring that tooth down. It’s now a nightmare. Tooth still not down and surgery today and told that now my canine is going to fall out in a few months because it has no root because of the tooth that we are bringing down. Just beyond devastated. I wish I had left things alone, at least the tooth that came out was not highly visible. So now I’m back with getting an implant likely and it will likely be years before this is all over. The whole experience has been a horror.

    • I wish I could tell you that all medical treatment goes as planned. Unfortunately some hair transplants look bad, most cancer patients pass away, and some teeth are lost when they cannot be saved (despite the orthodontist’s best efforts). I would have probably attempted to save your tooth too and implants are not the end of the world (I have four of them myself). Please understand that your doctor and his team are human and were trying to give you the best care that we currently have. Good luck in the future.

  8. Avillez says:

    I put on this sort of permanent retainer that is supposed to make my upper jaw wider. They say i have to wear it for 1 year, i was fine with that until a huge gap started showing up between my upper teeth, how long do you think this will last for? As it looks really bad and i prefer my old teeth.

    • The gap between your teeth is only temporary. It will go away on its own after you stop activating your expander or the orthodontist will close it with the braces after it has done its job and is removed.

  9. Hi, I’ve had my Damon braces on for 7 months now and am coming to the end of my treatment as they are being removed in less than a week now.
    However, over the last 10 days I have noticed a small gap appear between my upper two front teeth where there was none before, I never had any kind of gaps in my teeth before as they were originally overcrowded so am worried why this is just appearing so soon they are due to be taken off. I have also noticed that my smile is somehow slanted as the teeth seem to go from a lower level to a higher level from each side making it look slightly lopsided, should I be worried ?

    • I cannot comment on the levelness of your smile (which is a problem and will NOT self correct after the braces come off), but I would offer some advice about the space. A permanent bonded retainer behind your teeth is the only way to be sure that a space won’t open after the braces come off. I would discuss this option with your orthodontist BEFORE your bracers are removed. BTW, this has nothing to do with your braces being the Damon brand. It happens with all brackets.

Leave a Comment

Back to Top

meet orthodontist Greg Jorgensen of Albuquerque NM
why choose our Rio Rancho NM orthodontic office
Schedule an appointment with our talented orthodontist online