Dr. Greg Jorgensen
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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.

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

  1. Candia Mckinney says:

    Thank-you! Reading this makes me feel a sigh of relief! This is my First week in braces and it feels as if my front teeth completely hide my bottom row of teeth. I feel as if i have buck teeth which i never had before! Am glad to know that this is normal process!

  2. Need help says:

    I am currently on my one year and 2 months with braces. I recently went last Friday, and received a thicker wire in the bottom. They bottom used to be straight, and today I notice one of the tooth is pushing out, and going crooked. Is that normal?

  3. Istase2000 says:

    Hi Dr Jorgensen, Thanks for your blog. It’s been really helpful for me especially before I got braces.

    I had a question. I’ve been in standard braces for just over 3 months. Before treatment I had some mild/moderate crowding on the bottom and just one rotated tooth on the top. I had the option of expanding my arches and possibly doing IPR on the bottom. My teeth were functional and the bite was tight with top overlapping the bottom just enough but not by a lot. Now my teeth are pretty straight but bite is off, midline is off and I have elastics as apparently the bottom jaw has moved slightly forward. Do you think elastics can resolve this?
    Thank you!

    • I can’t answer that without seeing your particular case (and I can’t do that except for my own patients), but elastics can shift teeth and improve the coordination of the midlines, so follow your doctor’s instructions!

  4. jesse says:

    Hi Dr. Jorgensen.
    I started my brace treatment a month ago.
    I noticed that my lower left central “grew” longer. The difference is quite noticeable. I was wondering if this is normal.
    Thank you

  5. Cathleen garcia says:

    I just got braces a few days ago and my two front teeth were straight but all of a sudden one has moved down and you can see the difference is that normal? Will it stay like that?

    • Any movement after braces is going to stay that way unless something is done to change it. Please return to your orthodontist so he can see what is going on. Take your retainer in case that needs to be adjusted or replaced.

  6. Anna says:

    Hi Dr.
    I got braces 4 days ago because upper two center teeth are crooked.
    Now it’s so uncomfortable as one of the upper tooth near molars is hitting the bottom bracket (due to over bite and i don’t remember about overbite before i got braces). My teeth are short so the hospital said it is normal that I can’t chew at all for a few months as my molars don’t touch as the upper tooth hit the buttom bracket before the molars can meet.

    2nd I notice that i don’t feel any pressure on the upper braces, like it’s not really tightened or at all. But the bottom is killing me and i can’t sleep becuase it is so tight. I feel like the (bottom) center tooth is leaning backwards (or inwards?) and i can feel with my tongue or touching with my hands too that the center tooth is unevenly leaning inwards which I don’t remember before getting the braces either.

    Is that normal that nothing really is crooked in bottom teeth but it is too tight & the two crooked teeth are upper ones and feel no tightness at all ? And is upper tooth hitting the bottom bracket due to overbite normal ?

    • Every you are describing is totally normal. Sometimes patients bite on the braces, not because the brackets are in the wrong place, but because the teeth are crooked. As the bite improves, you will not be hitting on them. Your orthodontist may be able to put some composite on some chewing surfaces in the meantime to make eating easier. As for different degrees of soreness, this is very common. You have different issues in each arch and the forces and directions all feel different and cause distinct sensations on your teeth. That will change going forward as your teeth move and as your treatment progresses.

  7. Sisi says:

    I just got a coil spring put on to make room for my blocked out lateral incisor..and just after a few hours noticed that my front tooth was starting to move inwards. Is it normal for teeth to look more crooked when space is being made?

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