When you begin orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child at Bee Cave Orthodontics, you tend to start out with a list of questions a mile long. Will braces hurt? How long will you need to wear them? Can you still play sports? Will there be any foods you can’t have? How often will your appointments be? As time goes on, you’ll grow more familiar with your teeth and all the incredible things they’re capable of, as well as learn more about orthodontics itself.
As you near the big braces-coming-off day, you’ll have quite a bit of knowledge in pocket that goes beyond the basics, but one related subject you might be missing info on is wisdom teeth. They might not seem like a topic that would ever come up in any orthodontics conversation, but wisdom teeth can impact your oral health, and it’s not unusual for patients to wonder if these late arriving molars will have a negative effect on their newly straightened smile. Keep reading to find out why those worries are unfounded, and what you can expect from the eruption of your wisdom teeth during or after braces treatment!
What are wisdom teeth actually for, anyway?
Well, as it turns out….not too much. Your wisdom teeth are the last teeth to make an appearance in your mouth, usually showing in your late teens or early twenties. These are throwbacks to a time when our ancestors needed large and powerful jaws to survive on a diet full of coarse foods like roots, nuts, and meat. As that diet evolved, so did our jaws, shrinking in size to hold three molars in each quadrant instead of four. For many people, even three is too many, and their mouths simply don’t have the space necessary for wisdom teeth to erupt fully without issues. For others, the teeth come through in proper alignment with little more than slight tenderness, and in these cases, further action is generally not required. But because wisdom teeth grow in stages instead of all at once, we want to relieve any pain or discomfort we can so that any unnecessary suffering can be avoided!
The issue of timing
Given the timing, it’s not hard to see why some people jump to the conclusion that wisdom teeth must be responsible for any shifts in the smile that occur in that time span. As we mentioned above, your wisdom teeth will typically make an appearance in your late teen to early adult years. Some patients will also see a slight shifting of their teeth, also known as a relapse, during this time as well. The University of Iowa actually studied this subject, conducting research that involved placing sensors between the teeth of their subjects, then comparing the pressure on them with and without wisdom teeth. There was no difference between the two at all, proving that wisdom teeth themselves can’t exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to shift. But if wisdom teeth coming in aren’t a key factor in any shifting that occurs, what is?
It’s pretty simple: the aging process. As we get older, our teeth will begin to show signs of wear and tear. There’s also a natural drifting that occurs, which can cause our teeth to begin overlapping, moving them slightly forward. If the teeth begin to overlap, the upper teeth can press the lower teeth in towards the tongue. Jaws are often still finishing up their growth at this time, too, which can also force the teeth into less than desirable positions.
If you’re a current Bee Cave patient, we’re certain you’ve heard Dr. Da Silveira and our entire team remind you often about how important it is to wear your retainer once your treatment is complete. This is the biggest reason why we stress it so much! Wearing your retainer exactly as directed by Dr. Da Silveira will be the best defense you have against your teeth shifting. It’s a simple yet highly effective way to help your teeth stay as straight as possible once your braces are off.
Will my wisdom teeth need to come out? What if I’m still in braces?
If your mouth doesn’t have enough room for your wisdom teeth, it can put pressure on the surrounding teeth. If the teeth are coming in sideways, they can catch behind the last tooth in your mouth. This is referred to as impaction, and it can lead to swollen, infected, and painful gums. In addition, partially erupted teeth can be difficult to clean effectively, upping your chances for recurrent infections and damage to the adjacent healthy molars.
An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Da Silveira will be able to tell how your wisdom teeth are coming through by taking a detailed x-ray of your mouth. Based on the results together with the impact wisdom teeth are having on the rest of your mouth as they erupt, she may recommend further treatment, including wisdom tooth removal.
If your wisdom teeth happen to start erupting during the course of your orthodontic treatment, you’ll be able to continue easily and without interruption. Wisdom teeth can be removed while wearing braces if necessary, but if yours come through with no apparent problems, it’s unlikely we would need to remove them. Why fix what isn’t broken?
Bee Cave Orthodontics has the wisdom to set your mind at ease
Whether you’re scheduling your first appointment or a longtime patient, you’re never just a number on a chart to us, you’re family! We strive to provide you with a practice where you feel welcome and at home the moment you walk through our door. We’ve created an office environment that is safe and supportive, and a whole lot of fun, as well. At Bee Cave Orthodontics, it’s all about you and your smile!
If you’re in Austin or the surrounding area, and would like more information on how your wisdom teeth could impact your orthodontic treatment or overall oral health, get in touch with our office to schedule an appointment. Every member of our talented team goes the extra mile to make you comfortable asking any questions and discussing any concerns you may have. Your Bee Happy smile is important to us, and so are you, so give us a call today!