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Having braces can bring about a variety of challenges, one of which might be the wire shifting to the side. Wire shifting is not uncommon and it’s mainly caused by eating habits and strong jaw muscles. Some patients have this problem more than others, as you’ll soon learn.
Rest assured, this is usually not a dental emergency and can often be managed at home until your next orthodontic appointment. Nonetheless, it’s essential to address the issue to ensure that your braces continue to function correctly and efficiently.
In this article, we’ll focus on what causes the wire shifts to one side, some tips to help it go back in place, and advice on how to prevent shifting from happening in the first place.
Why Does The Braces Wire Shift to One Side
Here are some of the most common reasons why the braces wire will shift to one side during orthodontic treatment:
Mastication and Strong Jaw Muscles
The reality is that some types of patients will get shifting wires all the time, while others will not. It’s usually the people with square jaws and strong muscles that get their wires shifted most often.
You can also have this happening if you’re a one side chewer. Chewing on only one side of your mouth can cause uneven pressure on the braces, leading to the wire displacement.
To prevent this, try to distribute the masticatory forces evenly throughout your mouth by chewing on both sides and avoiding hard or sticky foods that might strain your braces.
Another good tip is to avoid chewing gum as this causes more mastication, and, as a result, more wire shifting. It’s best to refrain from chewing gum anyway when you have braces because it can cause brackets to break.
Light Flexible Wire
At the beginning of orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist uses light, flexible wires to shift your teeth gradually. These thin archwires are more susceptible to moving out of position because they slide so easily within the slot of the braces.
Remember that a little bit of sliding is usually normal and not a cause for concern. If the wire is consistently shifting and causing discomfort, consult your orthodontist, as they might consider adjusting the wire, adding accessories or using a more rigid wire to maintain its position.
Closing Extraction Spaces
If you’ve had teeth extracted as part of your orthodontic treatment, you’ll get a long piece of wire that runs through the gap. This wire is more susceptible to being bent out of shape or shifted by strong mastication forces.
As a result, it’s not unusual for some patients to see the end of the wire come out of the last braces, or shift to one side.
It’s important to maintain regular visits to your orthodontist to ensure the wire is properly positioned and the treatment goes as planned. If you’re concerned about your braces wire shifting, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your orthodontist, but they will check and make adjustments either way.
Orthodontic Wires and Their Markings
When you have braces, the orthodontic wire plays a crucial role in the alignment process. Understanding the markings present on these wires can help you monitor the progress and address any issues that may occur, especially when the wire sits off-centre.
All Wires Have a Middle Marker
Each orthodontic wire comes with a middle marker that serves as a reference point for your orthodontist when placing the wire in your brackets. Typically, this marker is a small color marking or indentation on the wire to show the exact center.
Top wires typically have 3 lines in the centre, although one line is not uncommon, while bottom wires have one line. The lines are a bit difficult to notice, so try to check this the next time you get a new archwire.
With this marker, your orthodontist can better ensure the wire is properly positioned in the brackets, providing even pressure on your teeth for a more balanced and effective treatment.
Shifted Wires and Their Effects
When the orthodontic wire shifts to one side, it can cause various issues during your treatment. Some of these issues can include:
- Uneven Pressure: A shifted wire can lead to irregular pressure on your teeth, causing imbalances in the alignment process and potentially prolonging your treatment time. However, since the wire is usually light and flexible, it doesn’t cause irreversible issues.
- Discomfort and Pain: A wire that is not in the correct position may poke the inside of your cheeks, leading to discomfort and, in some cases, even injury of the soft tissues of your mouth.
As the wire shifts, it will exit the last brackets on one side of the mouth and will become excessively long on the other side. This will lead to treatment delays, especially if your back teeth need correcting.
If your wire keeps shifting between appointments, it may be a good idea to see your orthodontist early so you don’t wait around for weeks and risk hurting your cheek or stalling treatment.
How to Fix a Shifted Braces Wire
Dealing with a shifting wire in your braces can be uncomfortable and frustrating, but it should be an easy thing to fix. In this section, we will discuss two main solutions to address a shifting wire.
Using Tweezers to Adjust
If you notice that your wire has slid to one side, the first approach you can try is carefully adjusting the wire with tweezers.
Gently grasp the wire with the tweezers and attempt to slide the wire back into the bracket on the opposite side. Be gentle and precise during this process to avoid causing any damage to your braces.
Always use a mirror or ask a friend or family member for assistance, ensuring a clear view and better control while making adjustments.
Visiting the Orthodontist for Stoppers
While at-home fixes can sometimes address issues with shifting wires, they’re often not a permanent solution and you may need professional help from your orthodontist.
During your appointment, the orthodontist will typically assess the reason for the shifting wire (strong jaw muscles, eating on one side, etc), and then adjust or replace the wire and place wire accessories as needed.
One possible solution your orthodontist may opt for is the use of wire “stoppers” which are small metal tubes that crimp onto the wire prevent it from shifting. Tiny balls of composite or wire bends can also work as wire stoppers.
Another solution that I personally like to use is bend the ends of the wire on both sides (it’s called a bendback if you’re curious). This doesn’t allow the wire to leave the last brackets, but the loose end may feel uncomfortable for some patients.
How Long Will the Wire Keep Shifting
As you continue your journey with braces, you may wonder how long your wires will keep shifting to the side. Perhaps you need to keep adjusting it yourself at home, or the strategies used by your orthodontist aren’t working as planned.
Normally, this shifting will stabilize as your teeth align and settle into a final position. Once your teeth are nearly straight, your orthodontist will be able to progress to stronger, thicker wires that will no longer be able to shift around.
Thicker wires fill up the bracket slot and cause a lot of friction, which makes them almost impossible to slide (unless you intentionally pull on them). You’ll most likely get a thicker wire about 6 months into your orthodontic treatment.
There are a few steps you can take to minimize wire shifting and improve your overall orthodontic experience:
- Ensure regular check-ups and adjustments: Staying on top of your scheduled orthodontic appointments maintains the progression of your treatment.
- Follow your orthodontist’s recommendations: Adhering to the basic recommendations – like chewing on both sides and avoiding hard, sticky foods will make a world of difference.
- Address issues early: If you notice any discomfort or significant wire shifts, bring it to your orthodontist’s attention as soon as possible.
By now, you should have a better understanding of why your braces wire might be shifting to the side. Remember that certain factors, such as chewing too much on one side, can contribute to this issue.
Your orthodontist should be you’re go-to resource when addressing problems with your braces. If your wire continues to shift or cause discomfort, don’t hesitate to contact your orthodontist’s office for advice and possible adjustments.
In the meantime, you can manage poking wires by following some simple tips like keeping the area clean, using orthodontic wax, and avoiding foods that can contribute to wire shifting due to their texture or size.
Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth (and your health) during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze: