How Do Wisdom Teeth Affect Straight Teeth?


One of the most common questions that orthodontists get asked is should their child wait until their wisdom teeth have erupted before undergoing orthodontic treatment? Whether you’ve had orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign or not, wisdom teeth can cause problems for people with straight teeth so parents are naturally concerned that they’ll spend thousands of dollars on orthodontic treatment only to have them messed up by wisdom teeth in later years!

The problem is that most people’s wisdom teeth don’t erupt until they’re in their early 20’s, and for kids with crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, they don’t want to wait that long to start correcting issues with Invisalign or braces. To give you some insight into this frequently asked question, today’s article will focus on the ways that wisdom teeth can impact your orthodontic treatment and what options you have to manage wisdom teeth.

What problems can wisdom teeth cause?

There are numerous problems that wisdom teeth can cause when they erupt, including:

  • If there’s not enough space in your mouth, your wisdom teeth might erupt at an awkward angle and rub against your cheek which is very painful.
  • There is an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay when your wisdom teeth erupt either completely or partially.
  • If your wisdom teeth only erupt partially, a flap of skin typically forms to cover the wisdom tooth that creates a breeding ground for bacteria and infections.
  • If there’s not enough space in your mouth, your wisdom teeth may become impacted under the surface of your gums (i.e. they can’t erupt properly).
  • If you have impacted wisdom teeth, painful cysts can develop which can lead to infections and decay to the surrounding tooth roots.

Does everyone have problems with wisdom teeth?

While some people don’t have any problems when their wisdom teeth erupt, most people do. The most common problem that people experience with wisdom teeth is that there’s not enough room in the back of the mouth to accommodate these extra molars. Evolution has decreased the size of the human mouth over time simply because we don’t need any extra teeth to chew and digest food. Consequently, wisdom teeth often causes crowding which worsens already crooked teeth and pushes straight teeth out of place.

Even when there is room for wisdom teeth to erupt properly, they can be positioned so far back in the mouth that brushing and flossing is very difficult. This can lead to oral decay and gum disease in the back of the mouth and the wisdom teeth will need to be extracted anyway.

Should your teen wait for orthodontic treatment?

Wisdom teeth don’t generally erupt until the ages of 17 to 23, so waiting this long to correct orthodontic issues with braces or Invisalign can cause complications. Many of the orthodontic issues that people experience can be treated far easier and quicker when they’re younger than when they reach adulthood. An orthodontic condition which would normally take 12 months of Insignia braces treatment in teenage years may require surgery in adult years.

The fact of the matter is that receiving orthodontic treatment in younger years is preferential to waiting for wisdom teeth to erupt before receiving orthodontic treatment. If wisdom teeth erupt whilst underdoing treatment such as Insignia braces, they can be removed without interrupting orthodontic treatment. In some cases, some people don’t even need to have their wisdom teeth extracted.

Wisdom teeth can be extracted at any time

It’s clear that the disadvantages of waiting until adult years to receive orthodontic treatment far outweigh the advantages of receiving orthodontic treatment before wisdom teeth begin to erupt. Keep in mind that your orthodontist can take X-rays at any stage to determine whether wisdom teeth will cause problems such as crowding and provide recommendations for the best course of action.

If you have any further questions regarding orthodontic treatment and wisdom teeth, reach out to the professionals at Clear Smiles Orthodontics on the Gold Coast by phoning their staff on 07 5593 3733.