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Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Crowding?

mom and daughter huggingIn short, no. Some people experience crowding of the lower front teeth in the late teenage years and early twenties, and they often think it is caused by the wisdom teeth erupting and pushing the front teeth further forward. This is a common misconception that we hear at Seim Orthodontics.

A study by Dr. Southard at the University of Iowa showed that wisdom teeth do not exert enough pressure on other teeth to create dental crowding. Other studies have shown that people who do not have wisdom teeth still experience dental crowding in their early twenties, and some people who have wisdom teeth experience no crowding at all. Wisdom teeth and dental crowding are not related.

Possible Cause of Dental Crowding

A more likely cause of lower incisor crowding is a phenomenon called “late mandibular growth,” described by Bjork and Skieller in 1972. The lower jaw is actively growing in the late teens/early twenties, and as it grows, it rotates. This influences the direction of eruption of the teeth and ultimately, their position in the jaw. Coincidentally, this occurs at the same time as the wisdom teeth are erupting, but the two are not related. Additionally, the incisors tend to drift forward through the bone in the same direction as the chewing muscles. Other factors such as bone remodeling, tooth size, and tooth shape can play a role.

Because there is no scientific evidence that wisdom teeth cause crowding, Dr. Seim does not recommend extracting wisdom teeth for the purpose of preventing crowding. However, wisdom teeth still have the potential to cause many problems (cavities, gum inflammation, root resorption, eruption cysts, etc.) and extraction is often recommended for those reasons.

If you are concerned about your wisdom teeth, please contact us or your other dental professionals know! We are happy to evaluate and refer for extractions if necessary.

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