Wisdom Teeth and Braces

While more and more adults are getting braces today, the majority get them as children or teenagers. Some in this group fear that after their braces come off, their wisdom teeth will come in and ruin all the hard work it took to create their newly straightened smile. This has led to an assumption that wisdom teeth need to be removed before wearing braces. Others who are in the midst of their orthodontic treatment may notice their wisdom teeth starting to erupt, so they ask the question.

At Kottemann Orthodontics, we believe in creating beautiful, healthy smiles for a lifetime, and we care about patient concerns. Wondering if wisdom teeth should be removed before wearing braces is a great question, so we’ve chosen to address it here.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars to erupt on each side of the upper and lower jaws. They generally appear in a person’s later teen years or during their early twenties.

Wisdom teeth were replacement teeth for our distant ancestors who fed on rough diets and had poor oral hygiene. Today, they’re simply not needed, as most of our teeth are not lost through trauma or decay. We have proper oral hygiene practices and better diets. As a result, we keep more of our teeth, and there’s only so much room in a person’s jaw. While a small number of people’s wisdom teeth grow in perfectly, for most, there’s simply not enough room.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

dental x-ray

As a result of the lack of space, wisdom teeth either become stuck under the gum, partially break through, or grow in at odd angles.  Dentists call these teeth impacted. Aside from pain, impacted wisdom teeth can cause other problems such as gum tenderness, cavities, and infection. Dentists or oral surgeons often remove impacted wisdom teeth for these reasons.

Removal of Wisdom Teeth

Numerous myths about wisdom teeth have led to the practice of removing them, even when asymptomatic. One myth asserts that wisdom teeth push other teeth out of the way as they erupt.  As a result, these other teeth move and overlap, creating misalignment of the teeth.

In contrast, a number of recent studies confirm that wisdom teeth do not exert enough pressure to cause a misalignment in other teeth. Consequently, the general consensus is asymptomatic disease-free wisdom teeth should not be removed solely for the purpose of preventing movement of freshly straightened teeth. There is simply not enough evidence to support this practice.

More and more orthodontists are choosing the wait-and-see approach when it comes to extractions. Through regular dental checkups, examinations and X-rays can be used to follow the progress of your wisdom teeth.  Any potential problems should be detected in the early stages.

Our experienced and talented team will thoroughly evaluate whether you need wisdom teeth extractions.  If we recommend it, don’t let it frighten you. Wisdom teeth surgery is a routine procedure, undergone by millions each year. It can even be done while wearing braces. If you do make the decision to have your wisdom teeth pulled, we will make sure you fully understand the procedure and after-care instructions.

Teeth Shifting

The most efficient way to guard against the movement of teeth post-treatment is by consistently wearing your retainer as instructed. This is an imperative that we discuss with all of our patients. If you had treatment as child or teenager and neglected to wear your retainer, your shifted teeth may be a result of that. Furthermore, as we get older, our teeth start exhibiting normal wear-and-tear and can move into all sorts of positions.

If you’re the parent of a teenager or are in your early twenties, be sure to schedule an appointment with us at the first sign of wisdom teeth coming in, so we can provide a thorough evaluation.

In Summary

  • Problems like dental crowding can be diagnosed early on, long before the wisdom teeth erupt. This is one reason we recommend seeing an orthodontist for an evaluation by the age of 7.
  • Not everyone will need to have his or her wisdom teeth removed.
  • Wisdom teeth should not be removed solely for the purpose of preventing movement of other teeth.
  • Regular dental checkups will be used to monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth.
  • Wisdom teeth can be removed while wearing braces.
  • Once your braces come off, wear your retainer as instructed.

Choose Kottemann Orthodontics

We hope this guide helped you learn more about wisdom teeth and the way they impact braces treatment. If you’re an adult and are looking for orthodontic treatment to fix those shifting teeth, or if you’re a parent seeking an initial consultation for your child, look no further than Kottemann Orthodontics.  

For more than 60 years and 3 generations, Kottemann Orthodontics has been providing high quality, excellent orthodontics care to patients in Plymouth, Minneapolis, Maple Grove, Watertown, Chaska, Orono, MN, and the surrounding areas.

Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation or to get answers to any questions you may have. At Kottemann Orthodontics, you’re more than a patient – you’re part of the family!