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It has been said that the only thing in life that is constant is change. The same can be said for our smiles. As we age, our smiles change. This occurs when we are younger with new teeth erupting, loss of teeth as we get older, or even just teeth being misaligned. Ever wonder why teeth are constantly on the move?

Teeth Moving Factors

Genetics. This always plays a role when it comes to our bodies and especially our teeth. Children actually inherit their parents tooth shape and size.

Age. Anothe rmajor factor. As we use our teeth the dimensions of them change from wear over time. The lower teeth tend to wear out facter than the upper teeth due to their smaller size. This is commonly referred to as vertical bite collapse and is one of the reasons the skin around our mouths sag as we age. As the teeth wear down they are under immense pressure to shift and change positions as the bite re aligns itself anew.

Genetics, of course, can be a major factor. You can actually inherit your tooth shape! Tracing back either one or several generations, if it’s in your genes to have small or misshapen or crooked teeth, then that will probably be your eventual (not-permanent) fate.

Tooth Loss. A major factor in teeth shifting when we are young and old. Most people believe that primary teeth can just come out and not cause any problems. This is not the case, the primary teeth hold space for the larger permanent teeth so are vital in that capacity. The loss of permanent teeth will allow the other teeth surrounding the loss to shift into that space.  If bottom teeth are missing, the tooth above will begin to grow downward. Nothing is stopping it from doing so or pushing it back into its place.

Tooth Grinding (Bruxism). Grinding the hard surfaces of enamel together can wear down, fracture, and chip your teeth. Your teeth may appear shorter as they wear.  Another effect of teeth grinding is actual changes in the position of the teeth.  This grinding action juts the lower teeth forward and can loosen your upper teeth over time. Over time, these stresses can allow the teeth to move or drift to a different position and dramatically change your smile.

What Can Be Done To Fix or Stop Your Smile Moving?

Dental Implants. Missing teeth can make you feel uncomfortable with smiling, socially awkward, or may make you look older than you are. Replacing lost teeth can be done with very natural results. Dental implants are a great way to achieve cosmetics, strength, and durability. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. The best part is, once restored, the dental implants should last long after your big day is over.

Dental Bonding. This cosmetic dentistry procedure involves using tooth colored materials that can be bonded to teeth to change shape, color, and length. This same material can also be used to fully cover the front surface (referred to as a composite veneer). Dental bonding can generally be completed in one visit and make dramatic changes to your smile.

Porcelain Veneers. While the initial cost is higher than the other cosmetic dentistry options, this may be cost effective if extensive changes need to be made. Porcelain veneers can change shape, color, length, and even correct minor misalignments of teeth. This will last a long time, will not stain, and is a very strong, natural looking material. If this is an option for your big day, you will need to plan in advance as time is needed to complete lab work.

Porcelain and Zirconia Crowns. These types of crowns are the strongest and most cosmetic options available. They are made from modern dental porcelains that range in strength and esthetics. If done properly, no one should ever be able to tell a porcelain crown from a natural tooth. Modern porcelains possesses strength, color properties, and light reflection properties that very closely mimic our natural teeth. Porcelain crowns can be used to change bite alignment issues as well as change alignment of front teeth which are more extreme such as those issues that porcelain veneers alone cannot fix. More natural tooth structure needs to be removed in preparing a porcelain crown vs a porcelain veneer.

Snap On Smile. This is a quick, conservative way to improve your smile without any permanent dental work. All that is required is having your dentist take impressions of your teeth, choosing a color, and the dentist sending them to a lab to have your custom snap on smile fabricated. Once the snap on smile is created, you simply clean your teeth, apply a fluoride gel inside, and slip it on over your teeth. You can talk, eat and smile with it all day long.

Tooth Recontouring. Changing the shape or alignment of teeth in a minor way can have a dramatic effect on a persons smile. Tooth recontouring involves removing small amounts of tooth structure from edges of teeth to correct a tooth that might be misshapen or slightly misaligned.

Orthodontic Treatment. Minor tooth movement can be utilized by your cosmetic dentist to bring your smile in line and allow for a better harmony between your smile and function.


Gone are the days where you have to just “deal” with a smile you are unhappy with. Cosmetic dentistry is not only about esthetics. Many of the procedures listed above will also improve the form and function of your teeth to allow for better health as well.

Tooth decay, for many, can be a constant battle. There are many reasons why some people are more prone to developing tooth decay. These include poor oral hygiene, neglect, disease, inherited cavity promoting bacteria, weak enamel formation, medications, and poor dietary habits. The oral environment is  continually changing and therefore must be continually aided to fight decay.

Do Teeth Repair Themselves?

Our teeth are in a constant state of unbalance, demineralizing (breaking down) and remineralizing (building back up). With many food and drink items we ingest, the oral cavity changes from a neutral to acidic environment. The savior for us is the special properties of our saliva. Our saliva has the ability to coat the teeth with a slick film containing calcium that makes it hard for bacteria to stick and helps repair damaged enamel. Saliva also protects our teeth by neutralizing acids, and washes away the food particles  that feed the bacteria which constantly attack our teeth.

Factors Of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the direct result of demineralization by the oral bacteria, mutans streptococci and Lactobacillus. These bacteria are the principal reasons for the breakdown of our teeth. Another little known fact is that tooth decay is considered infectious and transmissable. This generally only affects those with low or compromised immune systems. The classic case is the passing of oral bacteria from mother to child.

The factors of tooth decay include:

-Poor Oral Hygiene.

-Disease. This can include cancer, xerostomia (dry mouth), and diabetes.

-Medications. Medications can cause issues with weakened tooth formation when taken as a child and may cause an acidic, dry, or irritated oral environment in an adult.

-Poor Dietary Habits. This includes frequent snacking. High acid beverages, high carb/sugary foods.

-Anatomy and Genetics.  The way teeth form has a direct effect on how and where plaque will stick. The presence of deep pits and fissures in your teeth cannot be easily cleaned with a toothbrush and so, become the ideal place for plaque bacteria to invade. There are certain genetic codes that allow for missing teeth, malformed teeth, highly irregular enamel or dentin. These teeth are generally more prone to decay.

-Dental Appliances. This includes wearing of partial dentures, braces, space maintainers, or other orthodontic appliances.

Options For Preventive Care

Instead of waiting for a problem to occur which will require repair with dental restorations, (fillings) try to prevent it instead. If  tooth decay has taken hold , know that there are a few tricks in the arsenal to combat future decay. Preventive solutions include:

-Nutritional Counseling. After creating a log of your dietary intake for 1-2 weeks, your dentist may be able to help you find the food items that are putting you at greater risk for tooth decay.

-Fluoride Treatments. Fluoride rinses, toothpastes, gels worn in custom trays, and varnishes placed by your dentist allow the enamel surface to harden and protect itself against bacterial invasion.

-Chlorhexidine Gluconate. This oral rinse has the ability to disrupt bacterial metabolism. The downside is chlorhexidine cannot be combined with fluoride, it tends to cause staining, and it does not do well vs Lactobacillus.

-Nutraceutical Phenols. These include herbal lollipops which contain a specific herbal formula extracted from licorice root. This has been shown to selectively kill gram-positive bacteria as well as all oral yeasts.

-Xylitol. This cannot be metabolized into acid by bacteria. Because it cannot be metabolized it helps reduce the population of tooth decay causing bacteria. It can also increase saliva formation which in turn can help by building our teeth back up (remineralization).

-Probiotic Therapy. This involves replenishing the good bacteria in the mouth to crowd out the tooth decay causing bacteria.

-Oil pulling. Rinsing with oil helps reduce toxins, bacterial count, and coat the teeth making them too slick for bacteria to stick.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

Tooth decay can be controlled with proper habits and being aware of your limitations. Once you have a good understanding of what issues are promoting your tooth decay, you can begin to battle it more effectively. There are many options for prevention. Discuss possible treatments with your dentist and begin your new journey towards a cavity free oral environment.