Wisdom teeth appear for most people from the late teen years into the early 20s. Those who are wearing braces for less than a year may wonder if wisdom teeth will have an effect on the straightening process. In most cases, the answer is no. The following explains what wisdom teeth are and what to expect when wearing braces.
The Purpose of Wisdom Teeth
The ancient ancestors of modern humans ate meats, nuts and roots, all of which were difficult to chew. This is why they had large jaws that were very powerful. Today's diet is more varied, and human jaws have been getting smaller in response to this. The result of this evolution is jaws that are not big enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, requiring their removal.
Problems with Wisdom Teeth
When a jaw is too small for wisdom teeth, their eruption creates pressure on the surrounding teeth. Wisdom teeth can also become impacted behind the second molars if they come in sideways. Impaction is painful, and if wisdom teeth are only partially through the gums, they can cause infection. This is damaging to the other molars and not good for overall oral health.
The Effects of Wisdom Teeth on Orthodontic Treatment
Although it is common to see a small shift when wisdom teeth arrive, this is not a relapse of treatment with braces. Research conducted by the University of Iowa indicated there was no extra shifting by present teeth with the eruption of wisdom teeth. The shifting seen is caused by aging. Teeth naturally drift as people get older, and growth of the jaw may force the teeth to move into odd positions. This is why patients who have braces must consistently wear their retainers after treatment has ended.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Even though it is not likely that the arrival of wisdom teeth will undo straightening results, they may need to be removed for general oral health. Each patient has different needs. It is best to work with the orthodontist to formulate a plan regarding wisdom teeth when the patient is wearing braces.
Wisdom teeth are a normal event of early adulthood. Those who wear braces should consult with their orthodontist to address any concerns.