Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt from the gums and typically become visible when individuals are between the ages of 15-25. As people often undergo orthodontic treatment during this time, there is sometimes confusion surrounding the how wisdom teeth affect orthodontic treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, wisdom teeth will not negatively affect your orthodontic treatment.
In fact, in many cases, dentists and orthodontists will schedule treatment around the eruption of wisdom teeth, to ensure the patient’s alignment is not negatively affected by the presence of their wisdom teeth.
Do wisdom teeth cause dental problems?
Although people tend to associate wisdom teeth with pain and discomfort, wisdom teeth often erupt without causing any problems whatsoever.
Providing the wisdom teeth are not impacted (meaning obstructed to erupt normally), they erupt straight up from the gum and if there is sufficient space for them, they are unlikely to cause any dental problems and would not instigate the need for orthodontic treatment.
In some cases, wisdom teeth can erupt from the gum sideways or at an angle.
This could create pressure on the surrounding teeth causing increased risk of infection.
When wisdom teeth erupt at an angle, it can be more difficult to clean them effectively too.
As a result, food can become trapped and cavities may occur. Alternatively, wisdom teeth may remain under the gum or only partially erupt out of the gum.
Impacted wisdom teeth often cause no symptoms, however in rare cases they may increase the risk of benign cysts or infections occurring.
When wisdom teeth do not fully erupt or do so at an angle, they may cause dental problems and extraction may be advised.
However, these issues can be completely unrelated to orthodontic treatments such as braces and can affect any patient during the wisdom teeth eruption period.
If a patient is receiving orthodontic treatment and their wisdom teeth are already fully erupted, there may be no need to remove them prior to starting braces or even in some cases they may not need to be moved using braces.
Of course, this varies from patient to patient, and your orthodontist will determine which teeth should be moved by braces to ensure proper alignment.
Can I have orthodontic treatment before my wisdom teeth erupt?
As wisdom teeth may not erupt until patents are older, orthodontists may advise that orthodontic treatment commence prior to the teeth erupting.
However, your orthodontist will take X-rays of your mouth prior to starting any orthodontic treatment to determine the inclusion or exclusion of wisdom teeth in the treatment process.
Whilst your wisdom teeth may not have erupted from the gum, they will be visible on an X-ray.
Your orthodontist will therefore be able to determine whether your wisdom teeth are likely to come in without any issues or if they are more likely to erupt at an angle.
With this information, he or she can preempt any potential problems they may occur and plan your orthodontic treatment accordingly.
Should wisdom teeth be removed prior to braces being fitted?
Wisdom teeth removal is extremely common, both in patients who require braces and those who don’t.
If the patient’s wisdom teeth are already causing issues, such as overcrowding because there isn’t enough space for them to fully erupt, your dentist may advise that they are removed prior to braces being fitted.
“Wisdom teeth often erupt without causing any problems whatsoever.”
However, this doesn’t mean that everyone should undergo wisdom tooth extraction prior to getting braces.
If the teeth are healthy and are not having a negative impact on your oral health, your orthodontist may advise that extraction is not required.
Will wisdom teeth affect alignment after orthodontic treatment?
If patients are advised to have orthodontic treatment before their wisdom teeth have come in, some patients may worry that the eruption of their wisdom teeth will negatively impact their orthodontic treatment.
However, your orthodontist will always take your wisdom teeth into account before recommending any type of treatment.
If an X-ray indicates that your wisdom teeth are likely to erupt without causing problems your orthodontist may use braces to align your teeth, whilst leaving enough space for your wisdom teeth at the same time.
Alternatively, your orthodontist may recommend that your wisdom teeth are removed prior to orthodontic treatment.
If so, fully erupted wisdom teeth can usually be removed via a straightforward extraction, whilst impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth can be removed via surgical extraction.
Although your wisdom teeth play a role in your orthodontic treatment, they will not negatively affect the treatment itself or the results.
By taking your wisdom teeth into account before planning your treatment, your orthodontist will ensure that any orthodontic work will be unaffected by the eruption of your wisdom teeth.
As a result, patients can successfully undergo orthodontic treatment before, during or after their wisdom teeth have come in.