Considering braces? There’s likely a whole laundry list of concerns circling around in your head, questions like how long you’ll need to wear them, if they’ll be painful, whether you’ll have any food restriction, and if your wisdom teeth will affect that straight smile you’ve waited for so patiently.
Hang on. Wisdom teeth?
Absolutely! Wisdom teeth may not be something you’d normally associate with braces-related worries, but this is actually a question we hear pretty often at Shaw Orthodontics. Patients who have successfully completed or are close to completing their orthodontic treatment, and now notice their wisdom teeth coming in, can sometimes fear that the teeth they’ve just had straightened out will move again.
Is it possible for incoming wisdom teeth to ruin the results they’ve worked so hard for? Can these additional teeth exert the kind of pressure that will move other teeth around as a result? Parents and patients alike have asked, so let’s take a look at whether or not wisdom teeth can impact braces treatment.
Can wisdom teeth have an impact on your straight smile?
Your wisdom teeth will typically make an appearance in the later teen years, when you’re around 17-21 years old. There are some patients who will see a bit of a relapse around this time as well, resulting in a slight shifting of the teeth. But do wisdom teeth really have any part to play in this?
As it turns out, most studies say no. The University of Iowa conducted research on this subject in recent years and ultimately found that the wisdom teeth can’t exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to shift. This research involved placing sensors between the teeth, then comparing the pressure exerted on them both with and without wisdom teeth. There was no difference at all.
But if wisdom teeth aren’t a key factor in teeth shifting in our late teens and early adulthood, what is?
The biggest reason is surprisingly simple: we get older.
As we age, our teeth inevitably begin to show some wear and tear. They may begin to overlap more as part of this natural drift occurs, moving them slightly forward. As our teeth overlap, the upper teeth can press the lower teeth in towards the tongue.
Additionally, there’s a bit of residual jaw growth that can happen in that 17-21 year old time period, forcing the teeth into slightly undesirable positions.
This is just one reason why your orthodontist will often stress how important it is to wear your retainer after your braces come off. It’s the best defense you have in keeping your teeth as straight as possible.
A little wisdom teeth wisdom
You might not need to worry about wisdom teeth wrecking your smile, but it’s still important that you understand the ways in which they can impact your overall oral health. Some of the potential problems that erupting wisdom teeth can cause are:
- If your wisdom teeth don’t emerge all the way, a flap of skin can form, partially covering the wisdom teeth and often trapping food. Bacteria then has nowhere to go, and can end up causing tooth decay or gum infections.
- If you don’t have enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to grow properly, they can become impacted, which means they get stuck in your jaws and gums and can’t break through the surface. This can be very painful.
- If your wisdom teeth do happen to become impacted, cysts can form, some of which can cause infection and decay to surrounding tooth roots. These cysts are also painful.
- Along with your mouth being too small, if the back is particularly crowded, your wisdom teeth may come in at an awkward angle and rub against your cheek. Again, this can be painful!
- By far the most common problem with wisdom teeth is that the majority of patients just don’t have enough room for them when they begin to come in. And even if you do have room, they may be so far back in the mouth that it’s hard to reach them to properly brush and floss. This is actually one of the leading causes of oral decay and gum disease in the back of the mouth.
If you’ve already had braces, your best bet for avoiding any of these potential issues is to wear your retainer consistently, and to schedule an appointment with a dentist or orthodontist as soon as you notice your wisdom teeth coming in. During the teen years, regular checkups with your dental provider should include periodic x-rays to monitor the position of the wisdom teeth. Doing so can help your dentist or orthodontist to determine whether or not they may create problems later on.
Summing it all up with Shaw Orthodontics
Overcrowding problems can usually be diagnosed early on, long before the wisdom teeth erupt. Once they get close enough to the surface, they can be extracted by if necessary. This is one reason the American Academy of Orthodontists recommends children be seen by an orthodontist for an evaluation by the time they’re seven years old.
Wisdom teeth can also be removed while wearing braces, so there’s no need to worry about what will happen if they start erupting during the course of your treatment. You’ll easily be able to continue without interruption, and besides, not everyone needs their wisdom teeth extracted. If there aren’t any problems with yours, there won’t be any need to remove them!
Once you get your braces off, be sure to wear your retainer every single night. Wearing your retainer will keep your teeth straight, but only if you wear it on a daily basis as instructed. If you feel like it’s getting tight, or that there’s suddenly a noticeable amount of pressure in the back of your mouth, schedule a visit with your orthodontist or dentist. They’ll be able to determine if it’s due to your wisdom teeth coming in.
Customized care in Rockwall TX
Have questions that go beyond the basics we’ve discussed here? Are you looking for a reliable and trustworthy source of information about orthodontics in the Rockwall area? At Shaw Orthodontics, we’re proud to provide affordable orthodontic care for children, teens, and adults that’s fully customized and cutting-edge. Our comprehensive, 360-degree approach to orthodontic treatment takes into consideration all aspects of small design, such as symmetry, harmony, balance, and proportion. This allows us to design a healthy, beautiful smile just for you from the ground up.
If you’re in the Rockwall or surrounding areas and wondering whether orthodontic treatment could benefit you or your child, get in touch with us today! Call us at 972.722.1500 or click here to request your initial consultation.
Your experience with Shaw Orthodontics goes beyond braces because we know that while you’ll only wear braces temporarily, you’ll wear your smile forever!