Orthodontic treatment carries with it some risks. The three most common are root resorption, periodontal breakdown, and demineralization of enamel. The first, root resorption, is very common and happens in most orthodontic cases. Simply put, the tips of the roots of some of the teeth shrink. Most commonly the amount of root loss is only a millimeter or two and is of no clinical significance and carries no long term negative consequences. However, in rare cases, the amount of root loss can be severe and in even rarer situations can lead to tooth loss. Both are these are very uncommon. The second is periodontal breakdown. Sometimes the supporting hard and soft tissues, the bone that holds your teeth and the overlying gums can become less supportive due to loss of these tissues. This occurs because of the type of treatment and because of poor hygiene practices on the part of the patient. Once again, slight loss of inter-crestal bone and very mild shrinkage of the gum tissues is common but it is usually very minimal and once again has no negative effects in the long term. However, once again, in just the wrong patient whose home hygiene practices are poor, this breakdown can become severe. Finally, demineralization, or white spot lesions, are also a common occurrence and is also most often associated with poor oral hygiene. If severe, and most cases are not, it can lead to decay and the need for fillings, facings or crowns after treatment is completed.
While this may seem like a lot to be concerned about, in reality these are occurrences which happen with relative frequency but almost always are very minor in nature and should not dissuade anyone from receiving the benefits that orthodontic treatment has to offer. The good news is that it easy to see all of these potential negatives as they are developing and therefore address them all before they become problematic. Your doctor should be monitoring your oral health status throughout treatment.