Why Teeth Move

What to do if your teeth move as an adult

Adult tooth movement is usually a natural process. Your body has this tooth movement mechanism in place in order to keep your teeth in proper alignment. It’s the way your body keeps your teeth so that they all meet at the same time when you bite, and so that the teeth in one arch all touch each other side by side.

Your molars all have a natural forward drift throughout your life. Premolars tend to have a backward drifting force, but this force seems to be weaker than the molar force. The force from the molars can push all the teeth forward. This natural, helpful force can cause problems if your teeth start to get out of alignment.

To understand how this natural force of movement in adult teeth can go awry, picture a line of drinking glasses, all touching each other, and you are holding one glass on each end of the line and pushing gently inward. If these glasses are all perfectly lined up, a gentle force will keep them in line. However, if one glass gets slightly out of line, your pushing on them will cause the line to jumble. It’s the same with your teeth. If they’re all perfectly lined up, this natural tooth movement force will keep them in line. But once they start to get out of line, the helpful force of movement can become not helpful and will cause them to start to bunch together. You may end up needing braces to straighten them.

Here are a couple of situations in which your teeth can move:

  • There is a natural tooth movement that occurs throughout your life.
  • If you are missing a tooth, the teeth on either side can move to fill in that space, and the tooth that normally chews against this tooth will also move. This is a serious situation that can lead to TMJ dysfunction, headaches, or damage to other teeth.
  • If you have advanced gum disease, your teeth can also move because of that. If you have spaces between your teeth, and your teeth are a little loose, this is probably what is happening to you. A loose tooth is an entirely different matter.