Alpharetta, GA – You waited and waited to have your braces put on, then waited and waited to have them come off to reveal your new beautiful, straight smile. But now your wisdom teeth are starting to come in. Will they ruin your new grin?
Wisdom teeth typically begin to come in in the later teenage years. But do these additional teeth exert enough pressure that they can move the rest of the teeth? It’s a common question many orthodontists hear from concerned parents and patients.
“There’s not much to worry about for most people,” says Alpharetta orthodontist Dr. Nima Hajibaik. “In fact, the University of Iowa did some research that found the wisdom teeth made no difference. Sensors were placed between the teeth to compare pressure both with and without wisdom teeth, and it didn’t make any difference at all.”
But still, some patients see a relapse in their later teenage years or early adulthood, around the same time wisdom teeth are coming in, that might make you think about more orthodontic treatment. So what can cause that?
There are a few things that happen as we age. First, our teeth begin to show some wear, which can deepen how our bite looks in the front. This can mean our teeth begin to overlap more as we age. And as we get older, our teeth just simply drift slightly forward.
As our teeth overlap, the upper teeth can press the lower teeth in towards the tongue. There is also a bit of residual jaw growth that can happen that might force the teeth into slightly undesirable positions.
“This is why we stress continuous retainer wear once your braces are removed,” says Dr. Hajibaik. “The retainer is the best way to ensure your teeth stay as straight as possible.”
But most people opt to have their wisdom teeth removed for fear they might interfere with their smiles. In fact, close to 90 percent of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed. While wisdom teeth typically do not interfere with other teeth, there are a few reasons patients may opt to have them removed.
Once a patient reaches their later teen years, the jaw is almost completely grown. And that means there just isn’t room for any additional teeth. But the wisdom teeth might still try to find room to come in, which leads some to worry about crowding.
For some patients, there just simply isn’t room in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to fully erupt and they remain in the jaw bone. That is what is referred to as impacted. In this case, the wisdom teeth remain partially in the bone and partially exposed.
For partially impacted wisdom teeth, an oral surgeon will generally recommend that they be removed. Because of how they sit in the mouth, patients can’t care for them very well, which means they might fall prey to decay or gum disease. And a surgeon can remove them much more easily than fully impacted wisdom teeth.
If your wisdom teeth are impacted, you may not even realize it until you feel pain. This pain can be caused by an infection caused by the impacted teeth or from these additional teeth placing pressure on the mouth. It take wisdom teeth a long time to grow, so it may take you a while to notice a change in your mouth.
But even fully erupted wisdom teeth can be hard to care for because they are so far back in the mouth. Because of this, many dentists recommend removing them before they can cause damage to the rest of the mouth.
For patients with plenty of space in their mouths, a dentist may recommend more of a wait and see approach. Most orthodontic patients have their braces applied well before the wisdom teeth erupt. In this case, your orthodontist may order X-rays once your orthodontic treatment is completed to see what, if any, progress has been made in the development of your wisdom teeth.
If any pressure is being put on the teeth, and you’re not being diligent about wearing your retainer, you may end up having your teeth shift slightly. If this is the case, it might be necessary to remove the teeth.
For those who opt for braces in their later teens or early adulthood, an orthodontist could recommend the wisdom teeth be removed first to ensure that the orthodontic work isn’t affected.
But no matter what, you should always take the advice of your orthodontist and dentist seriously. In most cases, a dental professional will not recommend wisdom teeth be removed simply based on the outdated idea that they cause teeth to shift and crowd, but rather for the overall health of your mouth.
If it is recommended that you have wisdom teeth removed because they are impacted, either partially or fully, it’s important that you follow up with an oral surgeon. There are a few things that could happen if not. They include:
- Decay and gum disease
- Cysts or tumors
- Bone and soft tissue defects
- Root resorption of other molars
Age does make a difference when it comes to wisdom teeth removal. Oral surgeons often have more difficulty with patients who are older than 35. These patients experience more excessive bleeding, more fractured roots, more swelling and pain after surgery.
So while wisdom teeth typically will not harm a straight smile achieved through orthodontic work, removing them may still be recommended to ensure the overall health of your mouth.
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