Wisdom teeth, or third molars as they used to be called, typically erupt when you’re in your late teens to your early twenties. But to many of us, they’re surplus to requirements, and when they finally do show up they’re nothing but trouble.
The third molars would have been useful to our ancestors. helping them tackle a diet of coarse, rough food like leaves, roots, nuts and meats – which required more chewing power and resulted in excessive wear of the teeth. Needless to say, they’re not quite so welcome in the 21st Century, and thanks to softer diets, improved dental care and shrinking jaws, we’d much rather they didn’t show up at all.
The short and simple answer is – “No”.
There’s a very common misconception that wisdom teeth erupt and push all the other teeth along the line forward and cause mid-line crowding. However, that’s simply not the case and research by Dr Tom Southard at the University of Iowa has shown that they do not exert enough pressure on other teeth to create dental crowding. As part of this study, sensors were used to measure the pressures on teeth, with and without wisdom teeth present, ultimately showing that there was no difference between the two.
So if you’re experiencing dental crowding your wisdom teeth are most likely not to blame, and other factors – such as growth changes in your jaws as you age and not wearing your retainer – could be responsible. If you’re concerned about crowded teeth, the best thing to do is seek advice from a specialist orthodontist – like us.
If it’s your wisdom teeth that are causing you trouble, your first port of call should be your general dentist.