One of the most common questions we get from our orthodontic patients is, “Will wisdom teeth make my teeth crooked?” It’s a common belief, given how many orthodontic patients have had their wisdom teeth removed in the past. Does this mean you have to have your wisdom teeth removed? Not necessarily. There are reasons to remove wisdom teeth, but not for the reasons you might think. If you think you are in need of having your wisdom teeth removed, it is always best to get a professional opinion first!
Here’s a fun fact you may not know: Not everyone has all their wisdom teeth, and some don’t have any. For most people, the wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt around ages 17-22. Normally, four teeth are on each side on the top and the bottom.
According to several dental studies, about 20-25% of the world’s population has 1-3 wisdom teeth rather than all four, and 35% have none. Does that mean you won’t have wisdom teeth? If you do, will they have to be removed to keep your teeth straight? Let’s explore some of the facts and fiction surrounding wisdom teeth.
Wisdom Teeth Crowding?
Many orthodontic patients believe that wisdom teeth cause crowding to the front teeth. As a result, dentists or orthodontists recommend that their wisdom teeth be pulled to keep their teeth straight. The other belief is that as soon as the wisdom teeth are removed, the rest of the teeth will fall back into place and will be perfectly straight again.
Neither of these is correct. Studies have shown that front teeth crowd as we age because the jaw grows forward. This is true of both the mandible (lower jaw) and the maxillary (upper jaw), but more so of the mandible. That means that you may see your lower teeth become crooked faster than the upper teeth. This happens whether you have wisdom teeth or not, so your crooked front teeth aren’t because wisdom teeth are pushing your front teeth.
Why Are My Teeth Crooked?
I don’t have crowded wisdom teeth, so why aren’t my teeth as straight since my treatment ended? You may not like this answer, but here it is: It’s probably because you stopped wearing your retainer. Many people believe they can stop wearing their retainer after a few months or even a year, and their teeth will stay straight for the rest of their lives.
That’s not the case at all. Like the rest of your body, your jaws continue to grow and regenerate throughout your life. Without something to keep your straight teeth in place, they will move as your jaw moves and grows. That’s why we recommend that all of our patients wear their retainers as prescribed. This keeps your teeth straight and beautiful!
Will My Teeth Straighten After My Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
So your teeth have moved, and you are probably wondering whether wisdom teeth can cause crowding. At this point, you’re confident that your wisdom teeth are the culprits. It seems the solution is a simple one — pull the wisdom teeth, and the crooked teeth will straighten back out! Right?
Sorry, but that’s not how it works. As we explained earlier, your jaw moves forward as it grows throughout your life, which means it will crowd the front teeth on its own. Having your wisdom teeth removed won’t change this. That’s another bit of fiction. The fact is, the only way to straighten your teeth back out is through orthodontics. You will need treatment with braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign to take care of your crooked teeth.
The good news is, you may not have to wear them as long if you’ve caught the shifting teeth early enough, and you may be able to use Invisalign or Spark clear aligners, even if you didn’t qualify originally. That’s because previous orthodontic treatment may have addressed the problems that Invisalign couldn’t. Invisalign and Spark have also made several advances over the years, so clear aligners can treat more than they used to.
Why Would I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Simply having orthodontic treatment isn’t reason enough to have your wisdom teeth removed, but other causes may mean taking those third molars out. One of the biggest reasons is pain. Wisdom teeth that are impacted, infected, or are coming in the wrong way can cause pain, sometimes significant pain. The last thing we want is for you to be in pain, so of course, we’ll recommend the wisdom teeth come out if they’re causing such issues.
Because they’re near the back of the jaw, they may not always have room to come in correctly. Some patients have had crooked wisdom teeth, and sometimes they even erupt horizontally, so they’re laying down sideways when they break through the gums. Ouch! Wisdom teeth that don’t erupt correctly can cause the gums to become inflamed. Without treatment, this can lead to an infection or abscess. Left untreated, those can lead to more severe health problems.
Wisdom teeth can also become impacted. This is when the teeth don’t erupt correctly or don’t erupt at all and are stuck in the jaw. This can also lead to pain and infection. Often, it’s because the wisdom teeth don’t have room to erupt properly, so they either partially erupt or don’t erupt at all.
These are some of the most common reasons to have wisdom teeth taken out. Other reasons may come up, but that is something that you’ll be able to discuss with your orthodontist or dentist.
Finding Out More About Wisdom Teeth
Do you have wisdom teeth? Do they need to be removed? Your dentist or your orthodontist can answer these questions. At Freeman Orthodontics, we can take digital x-rays and scans to determine whether you have wisdom teeth and how many you have. We can then help you figure out if the teeth will come in correctly and without problems or if there could be an issue. If your wisdom teeth are painful already, we can determine whether they need to come out sooner or later.
If you’re in braces or clear aligners, you can still get your wisdom teeth removed right away. In most cases, you don’t need to wait until your braces or clear aligners are removed to have your wisdom teeth removed, especially if they’re causing pain or infection. Contact Freeman Orthodontics if you have any questions, or schedule a free consultation with us today!