How many teeth should you have?
Why do some not fall out?
Do you need your wisdom teeth removed?
Whether it was for your benefit or for your child’s, you have probably noticed that you tend to learn a lot about teeth as you go. If a question comes up, you google it. If that answer doesn’t suffice or solve your problem, you eventually schedule an appointment with generally the right professional that will take care of things.
While this may have provided you with a solid foundation of knowledge on the way teeth grow and move, there is one set of teeth you might not know quite so much about – the wisdom teeth! They do not tend to be an especially common topic of conversation, and many people remain unaware of the part wisdom teeth have to play in our overall oral health.
Because these teeth are the very last to erupt, they do not normally make an appearance until we are in our late teens or early twenties. This leaves both patients and parents alike wondering – and sometimes worried – if this timing means an orthodontically straightened smile will be affected by the wisdom teeth coming in. Here at Northeast Arkansas Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (NEAOMS), we love knowledgeable patients! Let us take a closer look at what wisdom teeth actually are, and if you need to have yours removed.
What are wisdom teeth, and why do we have them?
With a large percentage of Americans having their wisdom teeth removed at one point or another, it can be unclear why we even have them anymore! But once upon a time, those four molars are the very back corners of your mouth were very helpful to our ancestors, whose diet revolved around coarse, hard-to-chew foods like roots, nuts, and tough meats that required large, powerful jaws. As our diet began evolving and becoming more varied, our jaws grew smaller in response.
These molars typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, and this is when many people find that their mouths are simply too small for the wisdom teeth to grow in comfortably. This is not the case for everyone, obviously, as plenty of people have their wisdom teeth come through in proper alignment with little more than slight tenderness. When this happens, further action is rarely needed. However, for some patients, the wisdom teeth become impacted and can cause dental health complications. These are the times in which Dr. McDonough or Dr. Phillips can extract them to avoid problems such as tooth decay, cavities, cysts, and infections.
How will you know if your wisdom teeth need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth will not always need to be removed. However, if there is not enough room in your mouth for yours to come through, it can put pressure on the adjacent teeth, and if the wisdom teeth come in sideways, then they can become jammed behind the last tooth in the mouth. This is commonly referred to as impaction, and it can lead to painful swollen gums. Partially erupted teeth can also be difficult to clean effectively. This has the potential to set you up for recurrent infections and cause potential damage to the healthy molars next to the wisdom teeth.
When you visit experienced doctors like Dr. McDonough and Dr. Phillips, they will be able to get a good idea of how your wisdom teeth are coming in by taking an x-ray of your mouth. They will review these results and consider the impact the wisdom teeth are having on the rest of your mouth before recommending any further treatment, including wisdom tooth removal.
Is it actually possible for wisdom teeth to undo orthodontic progress?
Timing is the important factor here. Patients in their late teens or early twenties will often see a slight shifting of their teeth, which of course, occurs around the same time that their wisdom teeth begin erupting. It is easy to see why the two are assumed to be connected. However, research shows the two are not related. The University of Iowa put this to the test by conducting a study that placed sensors between the teeth to compare the amount of pressure on them with and without wisdom teeth. They were able to conclusively show that there was no difference between the two.
So if it is not the pressure of erupting wisdom teeth that causes the surrounding teeth to move, what is the culprit? The answer is a lot more simple than you might imagine: it is nothing more than the aging process.
Along with showing some signs of general wear and tear, our teeth also begin to drift as we age. This can cause our teeth to overlap and move slightly forward, with the upper teeth pressing the lower teeth in towards the tongue. Residual jaw growth can also force the teeth into undesirable positions. Why put yourself or your child through the removal process if they aren’t causing the problem? It’s always best to consider all of the possibilities to avoid costly and painful procedures.
Lose the teeth but keep the wisdom with Northeast Arkansas Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
It may be unlikely that erupting wisdom teeth will affect the results you or your child achieve through braces treatment, but removing them may still be recommended if Dr. Phillips or Dr. McDonough feels that it would be beneficial to you or your child’s overall oral health to do so. Because every patient and case is different, we recommend you schedule a consultation with us so we can do a proper examination of your wisdom teeth and come up with the plan that best suits your smile goals and oral health plan!
You’ll receive the most advanced and comfortable techniques available to restore your smile and keep your mouth healthy. Our team of medical professionals is certified by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. We are dedicated to providing you with compassionate, expert care.