Orthodontic Treatment and Wisdom Teeth - Thomas Orthodontics

Orthodontic Treatment and Wisdom Teeth

Teenager with braces smiling.

Your smile is an important asset, and orthodontic treatment plays a key role in contributing to your overall appearance and self-confidence by correcting misaligned teeth. But a common factor that often puzzles patients and their parents is what impact wisdom teeth have on orthodontic work.

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, usually make their appearance in your late teens or early twenties. It’s common to wonder how to navigate orthodontic treatment at this age or whether these latecomers could disrupt your previously straightened smile.

Wisdom Teeth Overview

Wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to erupt in your mouth, usually appearing between the ages of 17 to 25. Named ‘wisdom’ teeth because they appear at a more mature age, their primary function was to aid in grinding plant tissue, a significant part of our ancestors’ diet. However, our diets have since evolved, and along with it, our jaws have become smaller, often not leaving enough space for wisdom teeth to properly emerge or develop.

The Impact of Wisdom Teeth on Orthodontics

One fundamental question is whether or not wisdom teeth can cause crowding of the other teeth, potentially undoing the effects of braces. The short answer is no. According to research, wisdom teeth do not exert enough pressure to cause movement of teeth in the anterior region (front) of your mouth, where orthodontic treatment is most noticeable. Although this is a common misconception, you can rest assured that wisdom teeth with not destroy all your hard work. In other words, you don’t have to wait until your wisdom teeth come in to get braces or aligners.

The Impact of Orthodontic Treatment on Wisdom Teeth

You may also wonder if braces can actually make room for wisdom teeth to erupt properly. The answer is that it depends. In some cases, correcting your misalignment may result in additional space, allowing for impacted wisdom teeth to come in more successfully. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and many patients may still need to have wisdom teeth removed.

Taking a Coordinated Approach

The growth of wisdom teeth is certainly a consideration in the overall orthodontic treatment plan, but it doesn’t act as a barrier or change your timeline.

If wisdom teeth do begin to appear during the course of treatment, don’t worry. Orthodontic professionals and oral surgeons often collaborate to ensure that the eruption or removal of wisdom teeth does not interfere with a patient’s orthodontic progress. This tailored, integrated approach is key to a successful outcome.

Sometimes, we may recommend the removal of wisdom teeth as part of your orthodontic treatment plan, but this decision is based on several factors, such as the health of your teeth, alignment, and the potential for wisdom teeth to cause other issues. Wisdom teeth that are impacted (not properly erupted) can cause problems like pain, infection, or damage to adjacent teeth. In such cases, removal becomes necessary.

Preserving Your Smile

Regardless of the status of your wisdom teeth, maintaining your orthodontic result involves a crucial step: wearing retainers. Orthodontic retainers are custom-made devices, typically made of wires or clear plastic, that hold teeth in their new, corrected positions after braces are removed. This helps to counteract the natural pressure in your mouth that can cause teeth to shift back to their original positions, including the natural changes that can occur with aging.

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Understanding the relationship between wisdom teeth and orthodontic treatment can help in setting expectations and promoting a successful treatment outcome. While wisdom teeth may pose some challenges, they don’t typically disturb the benefits reaped from orthodontic treatment.

If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth or are considering orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to take the next step. Book a consultation with our office today and embark on your journey towards a healthier, more confident smile.