Do wisdom teeth cause crowding as they erupt?
Third molars or “wisdom teeth” as they are commonly known are the last set of molars that erupt in late teenage years. For the majority of the population wisdom teeth do not have enough room to erupt and often remain “impacted” or stuck under the gums.
There is a general belief that as wisdom grow they exert pressure on the back teeth which tends to push the front teeth out of alignment and cause crowding. Many general dentists and even some oral surgeon believe this notion to be true and often scare patients in extracting wisdom teeth to avoid crowding. This myth is abosultey false. Scientific research has shown that wisdom teeth do not push the teeth forward as they grow and do not cause the teeth to crowd. To back up this theory we know that people that are born without wisdom teeth or those that have had theirs removed still develop crowding. Therefore the wisdom teeth are not the main culprit. Our body is in a constant state of change and just as our skin, our hair, our body shape and size change throughout life so do our teeth. Unfortunately nothing remains stable and teeth simply do not like to be or remain straight.
Now, because wisdom teeth are seldom used for chewing, are hard to clean, and because their position can damage the second molars immediately in front of them it is usually recommended to have them extracted. Extracting wisdom teeth simply to avoid having braces can be quite a costly and foolish mistake.
I am often asked as an orthodontist when is the best time to have them extracted and whether they will affect the result of the treatment at the end. To answer the first part of this question, my personal recommendation for my teen patients is to have the wisdom teeth extracted after the orthodontic treatment. As for adults they can be extracted before, during, or after treatment. As far as the second part of the question goes, as stated earlier since we know that teeth do not like to remain straight I emphasize the importance of proper retainer wear to all orthodontic patients, irrespective of the presence of wisdom teeth.
Dr. Reza Salmassian is a Board Certified Orthodontist and specializes in orthodontics for Children and Adults. For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic evaluation, please contact Dr. Salmassian’s office at 661-222-7444
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