It is commonly said, “With age comes wisdom.” That holds true for wisdom teeth as well. They won’t give you a smart mouth, but they may give you problems. A frequent question we’re asked by patients before, during, or after orthodontic treatment is: “Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed, so they don’t impact my professionally straightened smile?” The general consensus is no. However, before we examine this question and answer in depth, we need to take a look at some related questions and how they provide insight into our all-important question. Let’s get started.
When Should My Child Visit An Orthodontist?
While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends a visit to the orthodontist around age seven. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, which makes it easier for the orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.
Does My Child Need Braces?
There are many reasons why people choose to wear braces. One reason is because a beautiful, straight smile builds confidence. Another reason is because properly aligned teeth are easier to keep clean with flossing and brushing. However, some people are told they need braces in order to correct a problem.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth grow in the back of your mouth and are the third and last set of molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws. They are also the final teeth to erupt, usually appearing when a person is older (in their late teens or early twenties), hence the name wisdom teeth. “With age comes wisdom – and wisdom teeth.”
Wisdom teeth may have been useful to our distant ancestors once upon a time because they could replace teeth that may have been lost through trauma, decay, or a rough diet. However, with modern advancements in oral hygiene and softer diets, we don’t need these replacement teeth. Essentially, our mouths can hold 28 teeth, but including wisdom teeth, we have about 32 teeth all vying for space in a person’s jaw.
Do My Wisdom Teeth Need To Be Removed?
The reality for many people is that wisdom teeth are unable to grow in normally. They either become stuck under the gum or are only able to partially break through the gum. Dentists call these teeth impacted. Wisdom teeth usually become impacted because the jaw doesn’t have enough space for all the teeth that are growing in, or because the tooth comes in at the wrong angle and bumps into the tooth in front of it. “Hey, watch out, wise guy!”
There’s no need to worry, though; impacted wisdom teeth are fairly common, and some people never have any trouble with them. However, impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems for others that can lead to gum tenderness, cavities, bad breath, and infection. Additionally, the process of them growing in can be painful. Dentists or oral surgeons often remove impacted wisdom teeth before they become a problem for these reasons.
We recognize that all our patients are unique and deserve to receive orthodontic care that reflects their individual needs. Therefore, our experienced and talented team will thoroughly evaluate whether you really do need your wisdom teeth removed. While wisdom teeth surgery may sound scary, removing wisdom teeth is a very routine procedure.
By visiting your dentist regularly, examinations and X-rays can be used to follow the progress of your wisdom teeth. Any potential problems should be found in the early stages.
Now, back to our original question:
Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed, so they don’t impact my professionally straightened smile?
The general consensus is no. Wisdom teeth should not be removed solely for the purpose of preventing movement of other teeth because you have or had braces.
There’s a common misconception that wisdom teeth push other teeth out of their way as they erupt, causing them to move and overlap. However, this is not the case. Research has shown that wisdom teeth do not exert enough pressure to cause a misalignment in other teeth. Therefore, more and more of us orthodontists are choosing to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to wisdom teeth extractions.
If you’re experiencing dental crowding, your wisdom teeth are most likely not to blame just because they’re late to the party (typically appearing in our late teens and early twenties). What’s a common reason? Age. As we age, our teeth will begin to show some signs of general wear and tear and may begin to overlap more as a natural drifting occurs. Around the age of twenty, the jaw performs its last growth spurt, which can leave teeth crooked. This is also the age when many former braces wearers begin to neglect their retainers at night. That is why wearing your retainer as directed by your orthodontist is the single best defense in helping your teeth stay as straight as possible after treatment.
Summing It All Up
- Problems like overcrowding can usually be diagnosed early on, long before the wisdom teeth erupt. This is one reason we recommend seeing an orthodontist for an evaluation by the age of 7.
- Regular checkups will be used to monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth.
- Not everyone will need to have his or her wisdom teeth removed.
- Wisdom teeth should not be removed solely for the purpose of preventing movement of other teeth.
- Wisdom teeth can be removed while wearing braces.
- Once your braces come off, wear your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist.
We recognize that all our patients are unique and deserve to receive orthodontic care that reflects their individual needs. If you’re in the Myrtle Beach area and are trying to figure out what orthodontic treatment is best for you, get in touch with us and let us help you find the right treatment. Our experienced and talented team at Seabreeze Orthodontics is dedicated to helping you get the smile you’ve dreamed of and keeping your mouth healthy for years to come!