The short answer is “no!” Or at least that is what the available evidence suggests.
But teeth definitely can become more crowded in late teens and twenties.
What is going on?
Wisdom teeth start erupting in late teens/early twenties. And since this happens at the same time as the lower teeth start to become crowded, people (including many dentists over the years) have said “Aha! The wisdom teeth must be pushing the teeth forward”
But just because two things happen at the same time, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other. There may be a “correlation”, but that doesn’t signify a “causation” (to use the buzz words).
For example: when I have my cup of tea at home at about 11am every morning, the postman often pushes my post through the letter box. But the action of making a cup of tea doesn’t start a chain of events that results in my post arriving. There is no “causation”. But there is a “correlation” i.e. both events tend to happen at 11am.
Well designed clinical research can test whether two events happening at the same time have a causal relationship: in this case the events are the crowding of lower front teeth and the eruption of wisdom teeth.
And this is what has been done by several researchers. Here’s how.
25-35% of the adult population are not born with wisdom teeth. So researchers have taken a large sample of young adults and divided them into two groups: group A have wisdom teeth, group B were born without them.
They then looked at how much the lower teeth became crowded into adulthood for both groups. What they found was that there was no difference between the two groups.
So the conclusion is that whether you have wisdom teeth or not, there is a chance that your lower teeth will become crowded.
Or to put it another way: the presence of wisdom teeth does not seem to be a factor in causing lower crowding
Then why do teeth become more crowded with age?
Probably due to jaw growth which occurs through out life (as do ears and noses). The lower jaw tends to grow more than the upper which is why most crowding is seen in the lower teeth.
This means two things for our patients.
Firstly, the extraction of wisdom teeth will not prevent teeth from crowding. There are reasons to extract wisdom teeth…recurrent pain/ infection for example…but the prevention of dental crowding is NOT one of them.
Secondly, teeth tend to crowd into your twenties (and for that matter throughout life) so long term consistent retainer wear after a course of orthodontic treatment is essential…whether you have your wisdom teeth or not!
About Cleveland Orthodontics
Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees , Billingham and Redcar.
We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available…you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.
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