The Truth about Wisdom Teeth and Orthodontics

Your dentist just took an x-ray and said those dreaded words, “Your wisdom teeth are coming in!”  If you’re like most, one of your first thoughts might be, “I need to get those out, they’re going to ruin my orthodontics!”

There are a lot of differing opinions regarding whether or not wisdom teeth cause crowding.  But we’ve all heard it, so where did this notion originate?  For years the generally accepted philosophy was that after braces, retainers were worn for a couple of years and then your teeth would stay straight on their ownWhile we now know this isn’t true, this philosophy was advocated for many years.

The advent of shifting teeth often coincided with another landmark event -- the appearance of wisdom teeth.  Since the wisdom teeth were bearing their ugly head right when the teeth started to shift, wisdom teeth took the heat…and everyone came to believe that everyone needed to have their wisdom teeth removed to preserve the orthodontic outcome.

Further research has revealed that the wisdom teeth are not necessarily the cause of crowding – teeth have memory and when you stop wearing your retainer, the teeth start to shift.  In fact, even people who are born without wisdom teeth experience crowding if they stop wearing retainers.

Does that mean if I wear my retainers I won’t need to get my wisdom teeth removed?  Not necessarily as every situation is unique; your best bet is to have a Board Certified Orthodontist consult with your General Dentist to determine what is right for you.  That said, if you’re wearing your retainer you can rest assured that your orthodontics is safe regardless of what happens with your wisdom teeth!

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