Throughout our lives we go through different life cycles, and so do our teeth. From incisors and canines to the famous “wisdom teeth,” our teeth erupt onto the scene at different times in our lives. You may have heard the popular saying, “With age comes wisdom,” and it does, but when it comes to teeth, it may give you problems.
You may have questions and beliefs about wisdom teeth, like should I have my wisdom teeth removed? Will I be able to get braces? What entails wisdom teeth removal? Or can braces straighten wisdom teeth?
We are here to clear your questions about wisdom teeth and braces. But first, we need to look at other related questions to give you an in-depth insight into wisdom teeth.
What are wisdom teeth?
The wisdom teeth are four third molars that erupt at the back of your mouth on both sides of the upper and lower jaw. According to the American Dental Association, wisdom teeth can emerge between the ages of 17 and 21, and they are the last set of teeth to grow.
It’s normal for your third molars to cause pain or discomfort while they emerge, or in other instances, infection. However, that is not always the case for everyone, as some people don’t experience any problems.
Historically, our ancestors needed wisdom teeth to replace molars that had worn out and to cope with the rough diets they had. However, with orthodontic technology advancements and softer diet options, wisdom teeth are, in the majority of cases, not needed for normal oral health and function.
Do I Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Unfortunately, wisdom teeth can result in many problems. The most common one is lack of space for them in a person’s jaw, causing impacted wisdom teeth. Impacted teeth happen when your new molars cannot grow naturally; they either get stuck under the gum or partially break through the gum. To avoid complications like cysts, orthodontic crowding, and bone loss in the jaw, orthodontists usually recommend getting rid of impacted wisdom teeth.
Historically, orthodontists have recommended the removal of wisdom teeth during a person’s late teens. During this age, your wisdom teeth roots are not fixed in the jaw bone, which will make the extraction procedure easier. But more and more, wisdom teeth are developing earlier. It is not unusual now for wisdom teeth to need removal as early as 13 years of age. Regular visits to your orthodontist and dentist will allow them to decide if and when your wisdom teeth need to be extracted. Beware, the longer you wait to have them extracted, the more complicated it can become because patients are at higher risk of suffering damage to a major nerve (inferior alveolar) in the jaw.
At Nease & Higginbotham Orthodontics, we are aware that every patient has a unique condition. Therefore, during your complimentary consultation, we will examine your bite and determine if your wisdom teeth need to be extracted.
Can My Wisdom Teeth Affect Braces?
The answer, in a nutshell, is no. It’s normal to undergo orthodontic treatment while your wisdom teeth are present. Third molars do not affect your teeth straightening treatment.
Even if your wisdom teeth move, the force they exert is so small that it cannot move the other teeth in your mouth. Your braces act on the teeth in front of the wisdom teeth, leaving your wisdom teeth without much of a role in your orthodontics.
Wisdom teeth get a bad rap, with many people blaming the presence of their wisdom teeth on post-orthodontic relapse. In reality, teeth shifting after orthodontic treatment is usually caused by poor or improper retainer wear, NOT the presence of wisdom teeth!
Can I undergo orthodontic treatment with wisdom teeth?
Yes. However, we recommend visiting a qualified orthodontic specialist to examine your wisdom teeth first. Some people should have them removed before orthodontic treatment begins, and some can wait until after it is complete. Either way, it only takes a few pictures and x-rays to check the state of your wisdom teeth.
If your wisdom teeth are giving you problems and discomfort, see your orthodontist. The importance of your smile is exactly why Dr. Eric Nease, Dr. Phil Higginbotham, Dr. Alex Thomas, and Dr. Gary Horvath are committed to offering our patients the highest quality care in orthodontics.
If you still have any questions or want to learn more about orthodontic treatment with Nease & Higginbotham Orthodontics, schedule your complimentary appointment today at any of our 5 locations, or complete our online smile assessment from your home!