Here at Team Demas Orthodontics, we know that there’s a lot to think about and consider before undergoing orthodontic treatment. We also know the hard work and dedication it takes to get the results you want. Throughout the process, you’ll find yourself learning quite a bit about orthodontics, and becoming more familiar with your teeth and all the incredible things they’re capable of. Over time, you’ll gain knowledge about the part braces or aligners play in moving your teeth, but one related subject you may be missing solid information on is wisdom teeth.
Yep, wisdom teeth! Because these late-bloomers aren’t really a common topic in orthodontics, it may be surprising to learn the role they can play in your overall oral health. We sometimes have patients (or parents) who worry that emerging wisdom teeth will interfere with orthodontic treatment, or fret that they will knock a straightened smile off-kilter. Let’s explore these teeth below to learn a little more about what they are, when to remove them and when to leave them alone, and what all of this means for you as an orthodontic patient.
Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars, the teeth that grow right at the back of your jaw. Although they don’t serve any useful function in the modern world, they played a large part in helping our ancestors properly chew and digest the coarse foods that composed most of their diet, such as meat, nuts, and roots. As we began evolving to a more varied diet, our jaws shrunk in response, rendering our wisdom teeth more or less obsolete.
In many adults, the wisdom teeth are missing entirely, or they never fully come through. For others, the wisdom teeth will come through in proper alignment with little more than a bit of slight tenderness. In those cases, further action generally won’t be required. But because the wisdom teeth grow in stages over time instead of all at once, if you do end up having an issue with yours, you may experience long periods of pain or discomfort as they erupt. By knowing what to expect, you’ll be able to work with us and your dentist in order to avoid any unnecessary suffering!
Wisdom teeth have often been preemptively removed as a way to prevent orthodontic crowding. However, most modern evidence has shown this to be unnecessary. If the goal of any medical procedure is to solve a problem for the patient and to improve their health, it follows that wisdom teeth erupting without difficulty can be monitored through regular dental check-ups, rather than removing them as a preventative measure.
There are, of course, some cases where removal of the wisdom teeth makes sense and is necessary. This may include situations where:
there are recurring infections in the gums or cheeks, often due to wisdom teeth trapping food debris and the bacteria that forms as a result of that
the wisdom teeth have developed serious decay
the wisdom teeth are causing tooth decay in adjacent teeth
the wisdom teeth have developed a cyst or abscess
the wisdom teeth are impacted – coming in sideways, stuck beneath the gum, or are only partially erupted, which can lead to swollen, infected, and painful gums
Even if you have one or more of these issues as your wisdom teeth grow in, it doesn’t necessarily mean all of your wisdom teeth will need to be removed. In many cases, removal may be recommended for just the top or bottom wisdom teeth, or those on one side only.
Many patients will begin their orthodontic treatment before the wisdom teeth start pushing their way through the gums. This is because wisdom teeth don’t typically make an appearance until your late teens or early twenties. The good news is, even if they start to emerge as you’re straightening your teeth, orthodontic treatment will generally not be affected. Most people are able to continue the treatment process easily and without interruption. Wisdom teeth can even be extracted while wearing braces if necessary, but if yours are coming through normally with no issues, it is unlikely removal will be recommended. You know the old saying – why fix it if it isn’t broken?
As mentioned above, your wisdom teeth tend to show up in your late teens to early twenties. Some patients may also see a slight shifting of their teeth around this time, too. Although this is part of a natural phenomenon known as relapse, it’s easy to see why people would believe wisdom teeth are the culprit when you consider the timing.
However, The University of Iowa took this theory on in a study involving sensors placed between the teeth of their subjects. Researchers compared the pressure on the sensors with and without wisdom teeth, and ultimately found that there was no difference between the two at all. This proved that wisdom teeth aren’t able to exert enough pressure on their own to cause other teeth to shift. But if erupting wisdom teeth aren’t a factor in the teeth drifting, you may be wondering what is.
The answer to that is surprisingly simple: we get older!
As we age, our teeth begin showing general signs of wear and tear, and a natural shifting may occur. This can cause our teeth to begin overlapping, moving them slightly forward. If the teeth begin to overlap, the upper teeth can press the lower teeth in towards the tongue. Our jaws are often still growing at this time as well, which can force the teeth into less than ideal positions.
If you’re a Team Demas orthodontic patient, you’ve probably heard Dr. Demas and the rest of our team talk about how important retainers are to the overall success of your treatment plan. Without regular retainer use, your teeth may begin shifting back towards their original positions, undoing all the work you’ve put into the orthodontic process. Wearing your prescribed retainer as directed by Dr. Demas is an incredibly simple yet highly effective tool to keep your teeth as straight as possible once your braces come off or you use your last aligner.
It’s unlikely your wisdom teeth will affect the beautiful smile you’ve achieved with braces or aligners, but every patient and case is different. If you have any worries about the way your wisdom teeth are growing in, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your general dentist. He or she can take a look and let you know what you can expect throughout the eruption process. We’re also happy to set your mind at ease if you’re feeling nervous about your wisdom teeth affecting your smile.
There are many reasons why Invisalign has risen rapidly in popularity over the last 15 years. The technology of clear aligner treatment allows you to go about your day without worrying about your appearance: no more metal standing between the world and your smile! Invisalign has been popularized by celebrities like Zac Efron, Eva Longoria, and Tom Cruise; no wonder Invisalign is now one of the most popular orthodontic treatments in Southington.
Of course, the Invisalign system requires discipline, good habits, and some minor lifestyle changes. For best results, Invisalign requires that the user keeps the aligners in place between 20-22 hours per day. As such, that leaves between 2-4 hours each day for eating, drinking, and maintaining proper oral hygiene through brushing and flossing.
The most common concern I hear from potential Invisalign patients is this:
How can I maintain a healthy diet if I’m only allowed 2-4 hours per day to eat? Am I going to starve?!?
Here’s the good news: You can maintain a healthy diet while using Invisalign. When I encounter patients concerned about whether they will have to dramatically change their eating habits, I encourage them to keep a diet journal for at least a week. You’ll find that the actual time you spend eating, drinking, and cleaning your teeth adds up to around two hours. (Of course, this depends on your snacking habits. But won’t cutting down on lengthy snacking sessions improve your diet?)
Here is the schedule that I recommend for Invisalign patients:
Morning brushing and flossing: 5 minutes
Breakfast: 20 minutes
Snack: 10 minutes
Lunch: 30 minutes
Snack: 10 minutes
Dinner: 50 minutes
Night brushing and flossing: 5 minutes
Add that all up and you’ll come to 130 minutes, or just over two hours. Keep in mind that those times don’t take into account meal preparation, but there’s no need to take out your aligners when you’re putting together your sandwich for lunch, is there? Every patient is different with varying dietary needs, but I recommend giving this schedule a time and seeing if you can comfortably finish your meals within this framework.
Keeping Your Teeth Clean with Invisalign
As always, it’s very important to maintain good oral hygiene when using Invisalign. In a perfect world, patients would brush and floss thoroughly each time after eating. I recognize that my patients often have busy schedules or don’t have access to running water at school or work. At the bare minimum, you should brush and floss thoroughly twice each day: once in the morning and once before bed. However, to keep up your oral hygiene throughout the day and prevent trapped food particles, I recommend rinsing with warm water or mouthwash after eating and before putting in your aligners.
Invisalign is a significant investment in your orthodontic health, physical appearance, and general well-being. If you’re going through the work of keeping your aligners in for over 20 hours each day, why risk the possibility of other issues with poor oral hygiene?
Tried-and-True Patient Advice for a Healthy Invisalign Diet
This is a collection of advice from my patients who have used Invisalign and experienced the lifestyle changes demanded by clear aligner treatment. These four tips should be a great help to anyone considering Invisalign:
Don’t Panic: You can do it! Keep in mind that many, before you, have gone through the Invisalign process and survived the dietary and lifestyle changes. There may be days where you have your aligners out for over 20 hours, and while it’s not ideal, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up about bad days, and stay positive. Rely on your friends and family for encouragement and you’ll see how easy it is after a few days to stick to your new diet requirements.
Set a Schedule: Before Invisalign, many patients snacked throughout the day and ate less during meals. Unfortunately, this isn’t a possibility with Invisalign. We are creatures of habit, and it can be difficult to break our eating patterns when changing to a new diet. Many of my successful patients recommend sticking to a daily schedule for meals and snacks. After a few days, your body will get used to this schedule and start to expect breakfast at 8:30, lunch at noon, and a snack at 3:00. Settling into a routine will help reduce cravings and hunger pangs throughout the day.
Plan Your Meals: Since you’ll be fitting a day’s worth of calories and nutritional needs into three meals and two snacks, you’ll need to strategize to cover your bases. Go into each day knowing when you’ll get your protein, where you’ll find your Vitamin C, and how many calories you’re taking in with each meal. Budgeting calories and nutrients are the best way to prevent hunger and malnourishment.
Don’t Overcompensate: A typical reaction to the Invisalign 20-hour requirement is to shovel in as much food as possible during your allotted eating time. As tempting as it may be, this habit will only leave you feeling sick. Here is where your discipline comes into play: once you’ve planned out your daily meals and snacks, stick to the plan! If you’ve planned out your calories, you know that you’re eating enough throughout the day to feel full and healthy. Resist the temptation to overeat and your body will thank you!
Think You Can Handle It?
If you think you can master the “Invisalign Diet” and maintain healthy eating and cleaning habits while using clear aligners, contact us today. Team Demas Orthodontics is the top team for Southington Invisalign, and we recommend clear aligner treatment for its comfort, flexibility, and effectiveness. Contact us by phone or through our online location form; we’ll be happy to answer any patient question!
In a perfect world, everyone would have a perfect smile. Everyone would have perfect oral hygiene habits, so they wouldn’t have any cavities. Their teeth would already be straight, so there would be no need for orthodontic intervention. Unfortunately, this is not the current state of reality. Most people don’t have perfect smiles. Most people don’t have shiny, white teeth. Many people do end up needing some sort of orthodontic intervention.
Luckily, trained professionals are ready and willing to provide whatever services the public needs. Nevertheless, a lot of people are under the impression that their dental problems are so unique that they can’t receive care from an orthodontist. This is simply not true. One of the most common assumptions is that braces and fillings don’t mix. Take a look at questions people have and what the experts say.
Braces aren’t just for teenagers anymore since millions of teens and adults have braces on their teeth every single day. Braces and orthodontic work can help align your teeth and make your smile more appealing. The specific amount of time a person needs to wear braces is obviously going to differ from one individual to the next. Some people are able to wear braces for only six months while others are in them for two or even three years. Knowing why you’re wearing braces and why they may still be on will help you put the effort and energy into your orthodontic treatment to get the most out of it.
What are the Benefits of Braces?
Whether you’ve been fitted for traditional metal braces or are wearing Invisalign, having braces is a wonderful option for people who want to improve the look of their smile. Your smile is normally going to be the first thing a person notices about you, so it’s pretty obvious that you’ll want to put a bit of time and attention into your teeth if you feel they could use it.
If you are wondering if traditional braces are cheaper than Invisalign, the answer is generally yes. Of course the actual cost of whatever option you choose will vary based on factors such as how long you will be wearing them, but traditional braces will generally run you less money than invisible aligners. The reason for this is that Invisalign is more high maintenance. With traditional braces, you will generally need to go in for adjustments about once every month. The orthodontist will adjust the wiring, which is fairly cheap itself, and that will be it. Because it is an older technology, it was designed so that keeping the braces fitted to your teeth entails a lot less work on the part of the orthodontist.
In contrast, with Invisalign, you will need to go in about once every two weeks to get a new mold for your teeth. These molds will have to be changed each time you go in (since the aligners that you are wearing are shifting your teeth and they will not be in the same positions that they were in even two weeks ago). Once the impressions from your teeth are acquired, they will be sent to a lab that will make the actual molds that you will be wearing. The constantly changing molds will make it so that your teeth are constantly shifting closer to the positions in which you want them, but it also means more work for your orthodontist, and more resources consumed for everyone involved. As such, it will naturally be more expensive than traditional braces.
You, or your parents, have spent years and a lot of money to get your teeth into perfect alignment and now you see that they are shifting back to their former position. The big question on your mind is most likely: Can retainers fix a slight shift of teeth after braces? The simple answer to this question is yes. But, more than giving you a simple answer, it’s important for you to understand how the slight shift occurred and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
MAINTAINING YOUR SMILE AFTER BRACES FAQ
Why do Teeth Shift after Braces?
It was the tension applied through your braces that forced your teeth to move into their straightened positions. When that pressure is removed, your gums and bone may try to return to their former misaligned conditions. To maintain the new structure of your teeth, you will need to use a retainer.
After your braces were removed, your orthodontist provided you with a retainer that you were to wear daily for a scheduled period of time. That schedule may have been for several hours every day as well as throughout the night. The retainer was meant to allow your gums and bone to adjust and support the new position of your teeth.
If you did not follow your orthodontist’s schedule or only wore your retainer sporadically, you provided your teeth with the opportunity to start shifting back to their previous condition. The shifting of your teeth does not happen fast, so it is possible that you will not notice the change until you see something in the mirror or you have problems when brushing and flossing.