Do Wisdom Teeth Affect Orthodontic Treatment?

Having wisdom teeth removed can be like a rite of passage for young adults. However, some people are congenitally missing wisdom teeth and others have enough room to fit the full set. But how do wisdom teeth affect orthodontic treatment?

Most wisdom teeth have minimal impact on dental crowding, so they typically will not need to be removed just to improve the alignment of the other teeth. However, wisdom teeth that are impacted (angled and stuck so they are not able to erupt) may contribute to crowding over time and orthodontic relapse (shifting after active orthodontic treatment) - especially if orthodontic retainers are not consistently worn. Furthermore, sometimes impacted wisdom teeth need to be removed, depending on the bite, for orthodontic treatment to work effectively and predictably. Luckily, if they do need to be extracted (whether because they're impacted and endangering the roots of neighboring teeth or there is not enough room for them to come in), that does not have to interrupt orthodontic treatment. Many of our patients have their wisdom teeth removed, as needed, during active orthodontic treatment.

Many teenagers get braces well before the age when wisdom teeth removal is typically considered, and it is commonly believed that wisdom teeth can cause a post-braces smile to become crooked again. There is some truth to this belief, depending on the position of wisdom teeth. If a wisdom tooth is impacted and pushes against the second molar, it may damage the second molar and this pressure can also cause problems with crowding of the other teeth or relapse post-orthodontic treatment. Additionally, our teeth do naturally shift as we age. Hence be sure to follow your dentist's or orthodontist's recommendation regarding your wisdom teeth and be diligent in wearing your retainers as instructed!

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