Bracing for Wisdom – How do Wisdom Teeth and Braces Work Together?

Teenagers start getting their second molars between the ages of eleven and thirteen. We usually see patients coming into this orthodontist in Palm Beach Gardens at around that age because it’s when they start having problems with their teeth.

Depending on how large their mouth is and the angle at which these teeth show up, they can cause overcrowding or an impacted tooth that needs to be addressed. However, they’re not done getting teeth yet. The next hurdle the young person has to overcome is the eruption of their wisdom teeth. Granted, not everyone gets wisdom teeth, but those that do may end up with further complications, especially if they’re using braces.

WebMD states that wisdom teeth are the final set of molars that people get in their late teens or early twenties. In a healthy, happy mouth, they are a beneficial addition. Sadly, in most cases, they come in crooked or impacted. Their emergence can lead to complicated issues, depending on what issue is affecting them.

In the case of people who invest in braces, the question is whether it makes sense removing your wisdom teeth before putting in braces. In some cases, eliminating wisdom teeth may be the better option, but the majority of situations don’t require that level of intervention. Here’s how we come to that decision.

Understanding The Importance of Wisdom Teeth

Within your mouth, your teeth fall under different classifications, depending on their location and what they do. Sharper teeth are useful for tearing up food into smaller, easier-to-swallow pieces. Flatter teeth work better for grinding food into a paste, making it easier to digest as well. Wisdom teeth are part of these latter types of teeth, dealing with grinding up food.

They’re known as ‘molars’ and are the third and (usually) last set that adults get. However, not all adults even get wisdom teeth. Live Science points to a study that determines that a trait passed down from ancient human beings affects some people, making them unable to have wisdom teeth. If these people can survive without wisdom teeth, do we really need them?

Science Line states that they probably aren’t necessary since wisdom teeth were the body’s response to eating rough and coarse food in the past. The food we eat today is more refined and doesn’t require a lot of crushing for us to swallow it. The result of this trait is smaller mouths in modern humans, which are a big problem when people get more teeth than they bargained for. Many wisdom teeth eruptions end up as impacted or misaligned teeth, unable to serve a purpose to the person who has them. These situations lead to immense pain and the possibility of infection. Usually, surgery is required to deal with these wisdom teeth issues.

Due to the prevalence of these issues with wisdom teeth, many orthodontists advise their clients to extract their wisdom teeth early to avoid similar issues. The New York Times has noted, however, that the professional opinion for the removal of wisdom teeth is slowly changing. Several factors may cause wisdom teeth to be a problem, but unless they are, you shouldn’t automatically remove them as soon as they come in. However, when it comes to braces, we may be looking at a completely different scenario.

The Use of Braces to Align Teeth

Braces are a method of aligning crooked teeth so that they can be more effective at their job. However, because jaws and teeth are so slow to change, braces have to adapt to perform their roles. Healthline mentions that braces work by creating constant pressure to help guide teeth into where they need to be. Eventually, the shape of your jaw adapts to their stress leading to realignment. Braces don’t actually change the jawbone, but rather the membrane which roots your teeth to your jaw. The pressure is exerted on this membrane, allowing for the reconfiguration of teeth as a result.

There is an obvious caveat here when it comes to aligning teeth. As many visitors to this orthodontist in Palm Beach Gardens have pointed out, wisdom teeth take up extra space within their mouths. It’s pretty safe to assume that by inserting those wisdom teeth in there would undo all the years of aligning their braces have done, putting them back at ground zero. It’s because of this fear that many clients see taking their wisdom teeth out before instituting braces to straighten their jaw as their best alternative. Removing these wisdom teeth have underlying issues of their own.

Getting Braces While Young is Better

While as much as one in five users of braces is above the age of 18, the majority of them are below, according to Harvard Medical School. There’s a reason for this disconnect in numbers. Childhood remains the ideal time to make changes in the configuration of a human being’s jaw. It’s easier to adapt the jaw to different shapes when it’s still developing. It’s even possible to do so when the patient is an adult, but it can take a lot more time to do so. The bones of adults have stopped growing, and some configuration changes come with unavoidable surgery.

Most people have to wait until the age of 17 before their wisdom teeth start coming in. Others have to wait even longer, and yet others never get theirs. If a patient were to wait until their wisdom teeth erupted to start instituting braces, then they would miss the ideal window for aligning their teeth, which are their teenage years. Options exist for adults that make it a manageable undertaking, but even so, the extra time spend with crooked teeth might not be desirable. Most orthodontists in Palm Beach Gardens would advise a client to leave their wisdom teeth in if it’s not causing any problems within their mouth.

Should I Take Them Out or Leave Them In?

In the past, the pre-emptive removal of wisdom teeth was considered as natural and expected. An article in the Washington Post from 2001 notes that up to recently, removing an adult’s wisdom teeth was seen as a rite of passage into adulthood. Most professionals today believe that unless there is a problem with the wisdom tooth, it should stay within the patient’s mouth. Your dentist will spend time monitoring your teeth, and if he or she sees problems, they will recommend that you remove the tooth.

But what if it happens while you’re still in braces? Will it extend your treatment time and make it more uncomfortable? Since braces realign the jaw itself, the chances are that your wisdom tooth won’t force things into misalignment. Instead, it will find a place where it fits best. If, however, complications arise when your wisdom tooth comes out, then you may have to get it removed to avoid infection. Wisdom tooth removal is a safe procedure that can be done without compromising your orthodontal work.

We’ve had our share of wisdom tooth extractions at Bradford Orthodontics, both in clients that have braces and those that didn’t. Our clients see it as a necessary measure, and we try to make it as comfortable for them. If you’re looking for an orthodontist in Palm Beach Gardens that pays attention to their clients’ needs, then contact us today to schedule an appointment. It doesn’t matter if you’ve only just started braces, or are only thinking about whether you should get them. We’d love to see you and offer you our professional advice on the matter. Call us today to make an appointment!