Wisdom teeth

A common assumption made by most people is that wisdom teeth are to blame for crowded teeth. But research has found that the wisdom teeth DO NOT exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to get crooked. So why do wisdom teeth get such a bad rap for causing unwanted crowding?

Most teenagers have their teeth straightened with orthodontics between 13-15 years and get their braces or invisalign off around 17. If they don’t wear their retainers after treatment, their teeth are going to relapse, coincidentally right around the same time their wisdom teeth start to poke through. Is it any wonder people started blaming wisdom teeth for crooked teeth?

When Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?

The main reason wisdom teeth need to be removed is because there just isn’t enough room in the jaw. This means they usually remain completely or partially under the gum. If a wisdom tooth remains trapped deep in the bone, it is called “impacted”. There are advantages and disadvantages of surgically removing impacted wisdom teeth but there are important nerves in this area which can pose a risk. Wisdom teeth that are visible, but don’t have enough room to come through are partially impacted and almost always need to be removed. This is because they cannot be cared for properly and they are more prone to decay and gum disease because food can get caught between the tooth and gum. These are easier to remove and pose less risk to nerve damage than impacted ones.

The second most common reason to remove wisdom teeth is because they are difficult to take care of and keep clean. They have very deep grooves that make them more susceptible to tooth decay and needing fillings. Not only are they hard to care for they are equally hard for the dentist to fix.  Removing the wisdom teeth in this condition is usually the best option even if there is sufficient space in the jaw.

When to Keep Wisdom Teeth?

You should keep your wisdom teeth when there is plenty of room for them, they are healthy and not giving you any pain. So before you go and pull your wisdom teeth out, make sure it is for the right reasons.

If Wisdom Teeth Aren’t to Blame for Crooked Teeth, What Is?

Orthodontists believe there are several factors that come into play. Wear and tear of the teeth means the upper teeth start to press down on the lower teeth pushing them toward the tongue. The other factor is what orthodontists call late mandibular incisor crowding or late residual growth. In common terms, there is a slight lower jaw growth in the late teens and 20’s that can crowd previously straight teeth.

Research shows that long term retainer wear is the only “sure thing” to keep teeth straight. Just like keeping your weight under control after boot camp requires maintenance, keeping your teeth straight after braces or invisalign requires wearing your retainers for as long as you want them to stay that way!