Wisdom teeth and orthodontic treatment

This ASO blog post is supported by content supplied by Smiles & Faces Orthodontics

How do wisdom teeth affect straight teeth? Should I be worried about my wisdom teeth coming through and moving my teeth? Should I have my wisdom teeth removed, and when should I do this?

Orthodontists are often asked these questions by new patients and those that have finished their treatment alike. In this blog post we discuss the common questions and concerns associated with wisdom teeth, and encourage you to consult a specialist orthodontist before you go stocking up on supplies for your recovery… because you might not need your wisdom teeth removed after all!   

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third and last molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws. They are also the final teeth to erupt and usually appear when a person is in their late teens or early twenties.

To remove, or not to remove?

First of all, it’s important to distinguish between wisdom teeth cases where there is adequate room in the mouth versus where there is insufficient room. When there’s insufficient room, the wisdom teeth are called 'impacted' (wisdom teeth x-rays allow orthodontists to make this assessment).

If your wisdom teeth are impacted, sore, difficult to clean or growing in the wrong direction, your orthodontist will generally advise you to have them removed, preferably before the age of 25 years. For patients over 25, the risk of complications with wisdom teeth removal increases slightly.

However, if there is sufficient room in the mouth, there’s often no need to remove wisdom teeth. For wisdom teeth that are not sore and impacted, there is debate about the effectiveness of removal in order to prevent crowding of the front teeth. Research studies have shown that removing impacted wisdom teeth may only prevent a very small amount of crowding, and may not be worth the discomfort and other complications of removal. In other words - if your wisdom teeth have enough room to come through and they are not causing you pain, it may be best to leave them put.

What else can affect my straight teeth?

There are a number of other factors that can cause teeth crowding over time and your orthodontist can advise the best way to ensure your newly straight teeth remain in place well after your braces come off. Some patients are recommended a fixed orthodontic retainer (this is placed behind the front teeth, so it is generally invisible), or simply encouraged to wear their removable orthodontic retainer long term.

It’s also important to note the phrase 'long term' means different things to different people. Some individuals may eventually need to wear their removable retainers one night a week, whereas others may need to wear their retainers nightly or every other night. Retainers help keep teeth in their new positions, so it’s important to gradually wean down the removable retainer wear under supervision. 

When in doubt – ask your orthodontist

While wisdom teeth typically will not harm a straight smile achieved through orthodontic work, removing them may still be recommended for a number of other reasons to ensure the overall health of your mouth. Because every person and every case is different, it’s always best to consult with a specialist orthodontist for further advice about whether “to remove, or not to remove” wisdom teeth.

If you’re unsure of where to find a registered orthodontist, check the Find An Orthodontist tool on the ASO website.


About this blog

The Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) is the peak body for Orthodontists and orthodontic knowledge across Australia.

Orthodontics Australia by the ASO, is the ASO’s public information and advice channel. Our blog and social media platforms have been designed to assist your research efforts and help you understand the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist, your orthodontic treatment options, the results you can expect and the journey along the way.

Of course, we can help you find registered orthodontists too with no referral needed! We hope you find this resource helpful and it gives you the confidence to take the next step in achieving the smile you’ve always wanted.