Friday, April 19, 2024
HomeOrthodontics & BracesThere Are Forces Constantly Trying to Move Your Teeth

There Are Forces Constantly Trying to Move Your Teeth

Did you know that while you are reading this, there are many different forces acting on your teeth?  I’m guessing that right now your tongue is probably slightly resting on the the back of your lower front teeth and the inside of your lips are resting against your front teeth.  If you took a magic school bus ride into the average person”s mouth, you’d probably find the same thing.

Forces On TeethDid you know that both of these forces along with other forces can affect how your smile looks?  In this article, I will go over some of the forces that act on your teeth and how you can make sure that they don’t negatively affect your smile.

Forces that Constantly Try to Move Your Teeth

As I mentioned above, your lips push your teeth into your mouth while your tongue pushes your teeth out.  They eventually find an equilibrium known as the neutral position.

Normally these forces are good.  For example, these forces help keep your teeth arranged in a symmetrical arch.  These forces can also help push permanent lower front teeth out away from the tongue when the permanent teeth come in behind the baby teeth.

However, if the forces in your own mouth get out of hand, they can push your teeth into abnormal positions.

Tongue Habits

Did you know that the average human swallows more than 2,000 times every day!  If you go ahead and swallow right now, you’ll notice that your tongue pushes against your upper front teeth.  As long as you don’t push excessively on your front teeth, usually everything is fine.

Some people have habits that cause them to hold their tongue between their teeth all the time or to push their tongue out excessively when they swallow.

Lip Habits

The forces that your lips apply to your teeth can become a problem if you develop certain habits.  One such habit is tucking your lower lip behind your upper teeth.  This is especially common in younger children and people who bite their lips when they get nervous.


The labial frenum has been accused of moving the front two teeth apart after they are perfectly aligned with braces.  For this reason, some people choose to cut away the frenum by getting a frenectomy.

Forces From Your Teeth

Other teeth (or the lack thereof) can move your teeth.  Normally when you bite together, your teeth touch and rest in a certain position.  This position is known as centric occlusion.  Normally, the top teeth oppose the bottom teeth and keep them in check.  However, when you lose a tooth, things get interesting!

When you lose a tooth, the teeth drift to fill the space. The teeth on either side of the lost tooth move, as will the tooth that opposes it. For example, if you lost a lower tooth, the tooth on the upper jaw that normally hits it would start to grow down slightly to fill in the space and the adjacent teeth to the lost tooth would start to lean in towards the empty gap.

Certain habits involving tooth-to-tooth contact, such as clenching or grinding your teeth could also cause movement of your teeth.

Another force that can move your teeth is described in Ten Cate’s Oral Histology textbook.  It talks about the back teeth pushing forward ever so slightly against each other, which causes a gradual forward movement of your teeth as you get older.


As you can see, there are many different forces that are constantly acting on your teeth that could cause them to move.  In addition to these internal forces from your own body, teeth can also move due to external forces such as braces, pipe smoking, or musical instruments.  I will discuss these forces in more detail in a future article.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about tooth movement caused by these forces?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!



  1. Since I got my new porcelian crown on my #30 molar,It was too high,I had it adjusted several times now it is too low. And my bite still doesn’t seem right.My dentist said the #30 tooth and opposing tooth don’t touch now. And I’m wondering if I need to get the crown redone? Next time how to be sure crown fits before they cement it. She only took a mold of the lower tooth,should she take a mold of top and bottom,to get crown right next time,if she will agree to redo my tooth? And I’m wondering why my bite is still not right could it be because the two teeth now don’t touch? What to do? Thanks…

  2. I found this article quite interesting. I have noticed that my teeth started shifting after I got my wisdom tooth. I feel that as I age me teeth will move forward. I am going for braces next week however I wanted to know do I have to wear the retainers for lifetime after I get my braces off. My ortho told me to get 4 teeth extracted I am very skeptical on that. Please advice.

  3. This is an old question, my DD is 9 YO now and we have not done any of these things. It may come up again or see it with my son, so would love your opinion. TIA.

    Our ped dentist recommended my 8YO daughter use a tooth trainer, I believe it is this one:

    What is your opinion of this type of appliance and its use?

    DDS is also recommending interceptive (I think that is what she called it) orthodontia to keep space open for the front teeth to move back rather than risking the back tooth pushing forward (DDS says this is common) when she loses the second to last back teeth. WDYT? My daughter’s front teeth are not that crowded. One of the canines could use a little directional help, it is coming in a little forward of the adjacent teeth.

    My instinct is to do the trainer now and see how it goes. It’s not really for the same thing as the IO but I would think it would help with that potential problem at least a little. And the trainer might help the canine??

  4. Can you update this information, to include what happens if one side of you molars are not connecting as strongly as the other side because of a height misalignment due to incorrect bridge work or bite adjustments done incorrectly.
    Will this cause your teeth to move, and thus is something that should get remedied, or is it find to have lower molars / less contact on one side of your mouth?

  5. Hi, just got my braces off! The retainers I have are like Invisalign, except they do not cover the last molars on my upper and lower jaw. The odd thing is that the top last molars have begun to migrate outward, towards my cheek. This has resulted in a disrupted bite. Can anyone make sense of this?

  6. mine is open bite teeth. so its always rubbing to lower lips . always a blister forms where the teeth touches almost 9 months passed but same condition. what should I do


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