Crowding is one of the reasons why many of us decide to get braces. We want a beautiful and straight smile and many of us get orthodontic treatment when we are in our teens. I include myself because I also wanted to improve my appearance. I remember like yesterday the day I got them off. It was the best feeling knowing I was going to be able to show my brand new smile and even more being able to eat all I wanted. I got my retainers and I was set! My orthodontist suggested that we kept an eye on my third molars or commonly known as wisdom teeth, since he referred that I probably needed to get them out because they had an angled position and could create crowding again. Obviously, this alarmed me, but I was way too happy at the moment with my results that I forgot all about it.
I must confess, as many teenagers, we kind of overlook the real importance of wearing our retainers. We begin using them the first couple of months, then not so regularly and then it gets to a point where we just don’t use them at all. I remember trying to use my retainers from time to time, but my teeth started to hurt and then they just didn’t fit anymore. I would check them out in the mirror and they looked fine, so I did not bother going to get new retainers and I totally forgot about my wisdom teeth. Then, suddenly one day I started noticing my front teeth started to shift, then I felt a bit of pain and swollen at the back of my jaw. All I could think about was: “Are my wisdom teeth making my teeth crooked?” A lot of people affirm this saying, even some doctors, but what does research say about it?
Well, many studies have been conducted to clarify this controversial topic and the majority of them concluded that:
“there is no real evidence relating wisdom teeth and anterior crowding nor that they contribute to the relapse after orthodontic treatment”.
Some say that there are other factors that affect lower incisor crowding such as dental (crown size, dental arch length loss, poor periodontal status and primary teeth loss), skeletal (growth of the jaws and malocclusion) and general (age and gender).
Others have stated that there is a late crowding that develops at about the same time wisdom teeth should erupt. In most individuals, these get impacted because their jaw length did not increase to get them accommodated. It seems logical to assume that if they do not have the space to erupt that their pressure will eventually cause crowding, but this has not been measured either. In fact, crowding can often appear in individuals with congenitally missing wisdom teeth.
As it is said by Dr. Bishara in his textbook of orthodontics, “A better reason for removal of third molars is that most third molars will not become fully functional teeth and will more likely become partially erupted, setting the stage for chronic pericoronitis (swollen tissue around the tooth) and adversely affecting the adjacent second molars through chronic inflammatory disease.” This inflammation is more likely due to the fact that it could also be hard to brush and floss properly that area.
With this being said, remember I did not use my retainers properly? Well, that is why my teeth shifted.
A long term use of your retainers is the only way to guarantee you will keep your teeth straight
So, I went back to my orthodontist, got re-evaluated and we saw that my impacted wisdom teeth started to affect my second molars. I definitely did not want that situation to get any worse, so the best option was extraction. I then got new braces on for a little less than a year and I have been wearing my retainers ever since. I always talk to my patients about my personal experience and why it is so important to use them.
You want to keep them straight, keep your retainers in place!
What has your experience been like? Comment below! Will love to hear from you.
Dra. Gina De Los Santos