Parents often ask orthodontists if teens should start with braces before wisdom teeth removal. The obvious concern is that if braces are started before wisdom teeth come in, they could interfere with the corrections that the braces are doing. That said it should be noted that most kids do not even get wisdom teeth until perhaps their first year in college. This is a concern because most parents would rather start braces sooner rather than later. Whatever the case may be one thing is sure, and that is that the introduction of wisdom teeth can have an effect on braces and orthodontic treatment in general. Wisdom teeth can present some problems as they emerge. For example, they can emerge less than fully resulting in a flap of skin remaining and covering the wisdom tooth.
This is a problem because food can become trapped underneath the gums causing infection. Further, if there is a lack of space as wisdom teeth emerge, they can become impacted underneath the surface. In essence, these teeth become lodged in the jaw and gums, unable to break through the surface. Also, impacted wisdom teeth can develop painful cysts resulting in infection and the decay of surrounding tooth roots. Equally of concern is that when teeth become crowded at the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth can come in at an angle causing pain and other difficulties. Another concern is that tooth decay and gum disease can increase substantially when wisdom teeth emerge only partially. The question becomes whether or not parents should wait to have braces started in their young teens. Here are a few useful thoughts to consider when making this important decision.
The Adult Stage Of Life Usually Necessitates Surgery
Wisdom teeth typically do not emerge until around the age of 17 to 21. Parents who choose to wait on braces until a teen’s wisdom teeth emerge can end up dealing with a more complicated orthodontic treatment than if the procedure had been started earlier. This is a key concern because there are many orthodontic conditions that affect young children that if addressed early enough can be remedied relatively easily. Conversely, correcting similar orthodontic conditions in the adult stage of life usually necessitates surgery. Another consideration the parents may wish to take into account is that first-year college students can end up having to wear braces. This could have an impact on self-esteem and personal self-image.
Parents sending their children off to college in another state may find that continuing the treatment involved with braces can become more complex and challenging. Switching orthodontists in the middle of treatment as a teen start college can also be more costly and more time-consuming. In short, the longer the treatment is prolonged, the more complex and more expensive it can become.
Another key consideration to think about braces and wisdom teeth removal is that tooth overcrowding can often be diagnosed very early. An orthodontist may recommend having wisdom teeth extracted if they are close enough to the surface. It is considered routine to have wisdom teeth removed even while braces are being worn. For example, if wisdom teeth begin to emerge during initial treatment with braces, they can still be extracted while not interfering with regular orthodontic treatment.
A Retainer Is Designed To Keep Teeth Straight
Some individuals will never need their wisdom teeth extracted. If there are no issues or problems associated with these teeth than they should not be expected to cause problems later in life. Also, orthodontists recommend once braces have been removed that patients wear a retainer every night without interruption. A retainer is designed to keep teeth straight as long as it is worn routinely and without interruption. Your orthodontist will instruct you on exactly how to use a retainer to gain the most benefit. As a note, if a retainer becomes uncomfortable or too tight and you experience excessive pressure at the back of your mouth, plan to visit with your dental care provider or orthodontist. He or she will assess the situation to determine whether or not wisdom teeth are erupting.
In the final analysis, for most teens, the disadvantages associated with waiting until after high school to begin braces therapy are far greater than the advantages of simply starting teeth straightening at a younger age. While each patient is unique and different, it is always recommended to consult with your orthodontist to determine the best course of action for your individual child’s situation. Convenience plays a major role in determining when to begin braces treatment.
Parents find the driving junior high school or high school aged children to the orthodontist for treatment is far easier than trying to coordinate this type of orthodontic care after children have begun college. As a final note, waiting until later in life to begin braces treatment can take longer because teeth are more developed and as such require more work to adjust. Most orthodontists would agree that it is always easier to work with the developing teeth of children than it is to work with established adult teeth. Contact your orthodontist today to learn more about how best to approach braces related treatment for straightening teeth in the most effective way possible.
Do I Need To Have My Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
This is an excellent question that is best be answered by first talking about cases where wisdom teeth may “not” need to be removed. For example, wisdom teeth that have fully erupted in a healthy way or that have grown in perfectly typically do not require wisdom tooth extraction. Further, if these molars that are farthest back in the mouth develop in the correct position and have a good bite with opposing teeth then the patient may be best served by leaving the wisdom teeth in place. It is worth noting that the wisdom teeth should be easily accessible so that they can be cleaned as part of a regular home oral hygiene routine. If any of these conditions are not met then it may be good to consider wisdom tooth extraction surgery.
Wisdom Teeth Growing In Fully Impacted
An oral surgeon may recommend that you have your wisdom teeth pulled if there is simply not enough space for them to grow in properly. When there is inadequate space for wisdom teeth to develop normally problems can arise. For example, when these far-back molars are crowded they may not erupt normally. They can grow in at different angles in the jaw. In some more severe cases, wisdom teeth may actually even grow in horizontally. This can also result in wisdom teeth coming in fully impacted. This means that the tooth becomes trapped within the jaw and never breaks the skin.
Chronic Gum Disease
Wisdom teeth must be pulled when any of these abnormal conditions result in an infection or a cyst. This can eventually damage other teeth and their roots or supporting bone mass. Wisdom teeth must also be extracted in most cases if they only emerge through the gums partially. When wisdom teeth emerge only partially they are difficult to see and very challenging to clean. Also of concern is the fact that partially emerged wisdom teeth can attract bacteria thereby leading to chronic gum disease as well as oral infections. When there is inadequate space for erupting wisdom teeth to grow in normally they can eventually crowd and disturb surrounding teeth. In more extreme cases, overcrowding of this nature may actually damage nearby teeth.
Younger Aged Patients Simply Recover Faster
When wisdom teeth do not fully emerge it is often best to consider having these specific teeth pulled. It is also important to note that most dental care providers recommend removing wisdom teeth in patients when they are still young. This is because it makes the procedure easier and more successful overall since the roots and bone have not fully formed. In addition, younger aged patients will recover faster following surgery. In other cases, preventative surgery is accomplished in young adults as a way to preclude wisdom tooth related problems later in life.
When is wisdom teeth removal necessary?
The American Dental Association advises that wisdom tooth extraction best serves the patient if they experience any of the following conditions, symptoms or situations.
- Excessive tooth decay
- Damage to nearby teeth caused by crowded molars
- Various forms of gum disease are experienced
- Fluid-filled cysts or sacks, as well as tumors, have been detected
- Constant, chronic or persistent pain
- Soft tissue located behind wisdom teeth repeatedly becomes infected
Is it better to remove wisdom teeth early?
Having wisdom teeth pulled has proven to be safe and very successful over the many years and decades that this type of procedure has been performed. The procedure can be used to prevent the crowding of back teeth as well as to reduce the incidence of swollen, red or painful gums. Having wisdom teeth pulled is usually the best option for those who have impacted molars that were never able to break through the gums. Talking with your dental care provider or oral surgeon to discuss all options is usually the first step in taking a more proactive approach in dealing with non-normal wisdom tooth development.
How long does it take to recover from a wisdom tooth extraction?
Patients should also fully understand the routine risks associated with having wisdom teeth pulled. For example, this type of surgical procedure usually results in swelling of the gums and tooth socket along with moderate pain. The good news is that recovery is usually very fast and within just a few days the patient is essentially fully recovered. That said there are some cases where slow healing gums or persistent bleeding does occur. When this happens it is essential to talk with your dental care provider or oral surgeon as soon as possible.
Patients who have recently had wisdom tooth extraction surgery should continue brushing their teeth normally but gently. It is also important to avoid drinking from a straw as this can delay healing and possibly even loosen a blood clot. One of the best ways to facilitate good healing after wisdom tooth surgery is to gently rinse with warm salty water several times throughout the day. This helps to relieve pain and reduce swelling so that healing can occur in a faster and healthier way. Patients should avoid participating in sports or physical activities immediately following having a wisdom tooth pulled.
Finally, to further improve the probability of a rapid recovery and complete healing it is recommended to avoid lying flat while resting or sleeping. It is better to prop up the head with pillows or even sleep in a recliner chair for the first few nights. Lying flat can only serve to unnecessarily prolong bleeding at the site of the surgical procedure. Some patients may find added relief by using an ice pack on the outside of the cheek. Ice should be applied about every 20 minutes for short durations for the first 24 hours following surgery. Any time there are questions or concerns following surgery it is best to contact your oral surgeon or dental care provider as soon as possible.