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Wisdom Teeth and Braces: Myths versus Reality

An issue that arises with many teens and adults who have chosen to straighten their teeth is how wisdom teeth are factored into the process. Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, do not serve a functional purpose, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will cause problems. There are five common scenarios with regard to wisdom teeth:

  • All four wisdom teeth erupt into the perfect position.
  • They erupt into a good position but covered by a gum flap.
  • One or more of the teeth erupt at an angle, which is called impacted.
  • One or more of the teeth remain unerupted in the gum.
  • No wisdom teeth are found on an x-ray.

Many myths have evolved around how wisdom teeth impact the teeth straighten process, so let’s
separate fact from fiction.

Myth 1:Wisdom Teeth Should Be Removed Before Teeth Straining Care Begins

Orthodontists will always consider wisdom teeth before treatment begins. Usually, if there is room in the jaw for the wisdom teeth to erupt, the orthodontists may recommend leaving them in place and monitoring them throughout the treatment process. However, an orthodontist will recommend the removal of wisdom teeth if:

  • One or more of the wisdom teeth is trapping food and causing the gum and/or cheek to
    become infected.
  • One or more of the wisdom teeth is trapping food, causing decay to the wisdom tooth or
    second molar.
  • A wisdom tooth has become so decayed that it cannot be restored.
  • There is an infection or cyst near the wisdom tooth.
  • One or more of the wisdom teeth is causing pain.

Myth 2:Teeth Straightening isn’t Possible if there are Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth may or may not affect the decision to begin teeth straightening treatment. Sometimes, an orthodontist can use this process to make room for the wisdom tooth or use braces to pull it into an upright position. However, if there is no room in the mouth for the wisdom tooth, it will need to be removed.

Myth 3:Wisdom Teeth cannot be Extracted during the Teeth Straightening Process

While it is most common for wisdom teeth to be extracted before or after receiving braces or utilizing another tooth straightening method, it can be done during the treatment process. When the wisdom teeth, either erupted or impacted, are left in place during care, the orthodontist will monitor the situation and an extraction can occur if it is deemed necessary to achieve the desired outcomes or avoid developing issues later.

Myth 4:You Don’t need to Worry about Wisdom Teeth once your Teeth are Straightened

If your teeth have not erupted during the teeth straightening process, it is important to continue to monitor the situation with your orthodontist at regular intervals. It is possible that even with proper tooth placement that there simply isn’t enough room in your mouth to accommodate them. This will cause overcrowding of the teeth and you will lose all of the benefits that you gained during the teeth straightening process.

Myth 5:You should Worry if the Wisdom Teeth Erupt after Teeth Straightening

After your teeth are straightened, it can be stressful to later discover that your wisdom teeth have erupted. While it is important to contact your orthodontist for an appointment, there is no need to panic. If you are wearing retainers as instructed, they will keep your teeth in place while you are waiting for your office visit.

At DeDomenico Orthodontists, we have treated patients with a variety of dental issues, including erupted and unerupted wisdom teeth. During your evaluation, we will review x-rays and discuss the best option given the placement of your teeth, the size of your mouth and other considerations. Don’t let concerns about wisdom teeth stop you from achieving your perfect smile. To learn more about our treatment options, please contact our office at (813)961-1313 to schedule an appointment. In addition, we now have a Virtual Initial Consultation option that may better serve your schedule and needs.

We are proud to offer orthodontic care at three convenient locations: Tampa, Lutz and Brooksville.

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