Wisdom Teeth and Braces

young man in a suit smiling with braces

Here at Berkman & Shapiro Orthodontics, there’s a long list of common concerns we hear from our patients in braces. Things like – how long will I have to wear them? Will they hurt? Are there foods I won’t be able to eat? Will my wisdom teeth coming in affect my straight smile?

Hold on. Wisdom teeth?

That’s right! Sure, wisdom teeth may not be on your radar when it comes to worries related to braces, but this is actually a question our team deals with pretty regularly.

Patients who have completed or are close to completing their orthodontic treatment may notice their wisdom teeth coming in and panic, thinking they might move the teeth they just finished straightening.

How justified is this worry? Can these new teeth exert enough pressure that other teeth are moved as a result?

Parents and patients alike often want to know, so let’s take a look at if and how wisdom teeth can impact orthodontic treatment.

Will wisdom teeth have an impact on your straight smile?

Wisdom teeth will usually make their appearance in the later teen years, around 17-21 years old. Around this time, some patients may notice a slight shifting of the teeth, also known as a relapse. But are wisdom teeth to blame?

Most studies on this subject say no. Research done at the University of Iowa found that the wisdom teeth don’t exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to shift. Researchers placed sensors between the teeth and compared the pressure on them with and without wisdom teeth. There was no noticeable difference.

But if wisdom teeth aren’t a key factor in our teeth shifting as we hit our late teens and early twenties, what is?

The biggest reason is actually a fairly simple one: we age.

It’s a perfectly normal part of the aging process for our teeth to begin showing some signs of wear and tear as we get older. They may begin to overlap more as part of a natural drifting that occurs, moving them slightly forward. As teeth overlap, the upper teeth can press the lower teeth in towards the tongue. It’s also worth noting that within this time frame, there’s still a bit of residual jaw growth that can happen, forcing the teeth into slightly undesirable positions.

This is why your orthodontist stresses to you how important it is to wear your retainer after your braces come off! It’s your best defense in helping your teeth stay as straight as possible.

Words of wisdom about wisdom teeth

You might not need to worry about wisdom teeth wrecking your smile, but it’s still important to understand how they can impact your overall oral health.

When your wisdom teeth begin erupting, you may encounter some of the following potential problems:

  • If the wisdom teeth only partially emerge, a flap of skin can form, which partially covers the wisdom teeth and has a bad habit of trapping food. This, in turn, can cause tooth decay or gum infections.
  • Sometimes, there isn’t enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to fully erupt. If this happens, they can become impacted, meaning they get stuck in your jaws and gums and can’t break through the surface.
  • If your wisdom teeth do become impacted, painful cysts can form there, some of which can cause infection and decay to the surrounding tooth roots.
  • Wisdom teeth can come in at a bit of an awkward angle, and if the back of your mouth is particularly crowded, it can cause them to rub painfully against your cheek.

Maximum capacity

By far, the most common problem we see with wisdom teeth is that many patients just don’t have enough room for them to come in comfortably. And even if you do have room for your wisdom teeth to come in, they can be far enough back in the mouth that it’s hard to properly brush and floss them. This issue is actually one of the leading causes of oral decay and gum disease in the back of the mouth.

Don’t skip the retainer

If you’ve already had braces and completed your treatment, wearing your retainer consistently and scheduling an appointment at the first sign of your wisdom teeth coming in is your best bet to avoiding any of these potential problems. You should plan on regular visits with us, or with your dentist, even after your orthodontic treatment is done.

Summing it all up

The good news is that problems with overcrowding can usually be diagnosed long before the wisdom teeth actually erupt. Once they get close enough to the surface, they can be extracted if necessary to avoid any further complications.

Wisdom teeth can also be removed while wearing braces, so there’s no need to worry about what might happen if they start to come in over the course of your orthodontic treatment. You’ll easily be able to continue without any interruption!

Not everyone will need their wisdom teeth extracted. If there aren’t any problems with yours, there won’t be any need to remove them.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear your retainer every night once your braces are off. This will keep your teeth straight, but only if you wear it as instructed. If you do notice it getting tighter, or feel as though there’s a lot of pressure in the back of your mouth, schedule a visit with us, so we can determine if it’s due to your wisdom teeth coming in.

Bringing you the best in orthodontics

Meet Dr Mark Berkman and Dr Lainie Shapiro, Berkman & Shapiro Orthodontics, Commerce Township, MI 48382

At Berkman & Shapiro Orthodontics, your experience goes beyond braces. Our orthodontists are incredibly experienced and knowledgeable, and since 2004, we’ve helped thousands of patients from all over southeast Michigan experience superior orthodontic treatment with our braces and Invisalign treatments. Our team believes in providing the highest quality orthodontic treatment and creating beautiful, healthy smiles by providing a positive, warm, and caring environment. Each patient we see is treated with appreciation, and we aim to exceed expectations!

If you’re in the Commerce, West Bloomfield, or southeastern Michigan area, and looking for reliable information on the impact orthodontic treatment can have on you or your child, get in touch today to schedule your first visit. Berkman & Shapiro Orthodonticswe’re the wise choice for wisdom teeth concerns and more!