Wisdom teeth may not be on your radar quite yet, but many patients are very concerned about how their wisdom teeth can affect orthodontic treatment. Many parents have concerns that once wisdom teeth begin to emerge, they will shift a smile recently straightened with braces. Around the time that wisdom teeth start to appear, many patients notice a shift in their smile.
Are wisdom teeth really the reason behind this shift?
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the last molars to develop. They are located on each side of the jaw in the very back behind your already-present molars. By the age of 16-19 years old, you should be able to see them. If you can’t, they may be impacted, meaning they haven’t broken through the gums yet, or they may be completely absent. Wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to come in, so there is often not enough room for them to grow into your mouth entirely. These trapped or impacted wisdom teeth will sometimes need to be removed by an oral surgeon.
When Wisdom Tooth Removal Is Necessary
Wisdom teeth should be removed if they are going to displace or shift any teeth that have already been straightened by braces or are in the process of being corrected. Impacted wisdom teeth are also best removed before they have the ability to cause any complications with your orthodontic treatment. If treatment has not yet begun, you should consider first having wisdom teeth extracted, especially if the teeth are already coming out at an angle. If your wisdom teeth are to erupt after orthodontic treatment has been completed, they may have the ability to undo several years of straightening with braces.
How Wisdom Teeth Can Affect Braces
The most common period for undergoing orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 10 and 20 years old, and wisdom teeth are typically extracted around the end of this time frame. This can often lead to parents of patients wondering whether or not to pull wisdom teeth first or to wait until after braces. Because of the way wisdom teeth are situated at the back of the gums, they do not exert enough pressure to cause teeth at the front of the mouth to shift. Wisdom teeth can be extracted during orthodontic treatment, though it is less common.
Determining whether to proceed with braces prior to wisdom teeth extraction or after, depends on the age of the patient and the professional opinions of an orthodontist and dentist. The additional set of molars do not typically erupt until the later teens and early twenties, leaving orthodontic treatment rarely affected. For those patients looking to straighten their smile later on in life, who have not had wisdom teeth extracted, an orthodontist may recommend extraction before undergoing treatment as a precaution.
Checking For Signs of Wisdom Teeth Eruption
Depending on the age of the patient, it’s always best to talk to your orthodontist regarding any signs and symptoms of wisdom teeth. The most common indications to watch for are:
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Pain in the back of the mouth, behind the molars
- Visible signs of teeth erupting behind your back molars
- Consistent discomfort that does not go away on its own
- Swelling gum tissue forming over an impacted molar
- Pain stemming from the gums at an awkward angle against the cheek or top of the mouth
When To Talk With Your Orthodontist
Don’t hesitate to speak with your dentist and orthodontist about braces and wisdom teeth before treatment. Making a plan ahead of time will ease the process of both treatments, and will allow for both doctors to coordinate on your treatment plan. Call Thomas Orthodontics with any questions or concerns regarding braces and wisdom teeth. We’re happy to provide more information in addition to scheduling a consultation appointment.