Most people get their permanent second molar teeth between the ages of 11 and 13. By the time these teeth come in, we are able to see what issues a patient may be facing with their smile, including crowding, spacing or an overbite. Orthodontic treatment is normally started at this age. Yet, once a teenager is done with braces, they might have another milestone on the horizon: eruption of their third molars or wisdom teeth. If a person’s wisdom teeth do erupt (not everyone’s do), they typically make an appearance between the ages of 17 and 21. Of course, after investing in Orthodontic treatment, you don’t want eruption of the wisdom teeth to disrupt your results, which is why patients often ask, “Should you remove wisdom teeth before braces?” The answer we give to patients at Ocean Orthodontics is, no, not usually.
What are Wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are your third molar teeth that typically erupt in your late teen or early adult years. While, if they’re healthy, they could help with chewing, they’re not a necessity. In fact, not everyone even gets all four wisdom teeth since they are the most commonly missing teeth. When people do get them, it is possible for them to be perfectly fine. However, more commonly, the wisdom teeth are crooked, get stuck underneath the bone (impacted) or only erupt partially. When these issues occur, it can lead to pain, infection or tooth decay.
Wisdom Teeth and Braces or Invisalign Teen
Will wisdom teeth affect braces or your final results? For years, it was thought that when the wisdom teeth came in, they could exert pressure on the surrounding teeth and cause crowding or, in some cases, a relapse after orthodontic treatment. Why? Well, in early adulthood, the teeth do tend to shift and there can be changes in the bite, which coincides with the wisdom teeth erupting. This caused patients to worry and think it was necessary to remove wisdom teeth before braces. More recent research has shown that the wisdom teeth don’t exert enough force to shift nearby teeth and extracting wisdom teeth did not prevent incisor crowding or relieve interdental pressure. The changes in our smile that occur in the late teens are actually just due to age. Teeth will often move forward a bit and the jaw can have one final growth spurt. This is why we recommend that our patients wear their retainers on a long term basis after orthodontic treatment! It’s the only way to prevent relapse and maintain your results.
Do I Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
It’s not uncommon for people to have their wisdom teeth removed before they erupt, even if there aren’t any complications. It was thought that this would be helpful for a person’s oral health in the future. Yet, there is a debate surrounding prophylactic extraction of the wisdom teeth. Now, many dentists will suggest keeping your wisdom teeth in place if they’re not causing any issues. Your general dentist will monitor your wisdom teeth and, if necessary, refer you to an oral surgeon for extraction. They may recommend you have them removed if:
• There is clearly no room for them to erupt
• The soft tissue in the area gets infected or swollen
• You’re in pain
• They’re difficult for you to keep clean and you get decay or gum disease
• The impacted teeth are causing sinus pain or headaches
• You develop benign tumors or cysts in the jaw
So, what if these issues crop up during your treatment? Can you get wisdom teeth removed while you have braces? Yes, you can. If, after a thorough evaluation, it’s decided that extracting your wisdom teeth is the best course of action, we would coordinate with your dentist and oral surgeon. Your wisdom teeth can be removed without compromising your orthodontic treatment.