Crooked wisdom teeth are a common dental concern that can bring forth an array of complications if not addressed appropriately. They are the late bloomers in our mouths, appearing in our late teens or early twenties, often disrupting the harmony of our otherwise well-organized dental household.
In the following paragraphs, we will examine the effects of crooked wisdom teeth, their potential impact on our overall oral health, and the various strategies dental experts recommend to manage these late entrants.
I. What causes wisdom teeth to grow crooked?
Back in our hunter-gatherer days, these teeth were essential for grinding down hard-to-digest foods like nuts and roots.
However, evolution and changes in our diet have rendered these teeth relatively unnecessary, and, oddly enough, often troublesome.
One of the leading causes of this crooked growth is simply a lack of space in the jaw.
As modern humans, our jaws have become smaller over time. Consequently, when these latecomers try to erupt, they find a crowded environment and tend to grow sideways, upwards, or downwards, essentially in any direction where there is some room.
Genetics also play a critical role in this dental quandary. If your parents had such teeth, chances are you might, too.
This inherited trait can determine the size of your jaw and the alignment of your teeth, thereby influencing how and where your wisdom teeth will emerge.
The angle of the developing wisdom tooth bud in the jawbone is another significant factor.
If the bud angle is off, the tooth will likely grow in an undesired direction. It’s also worth mentioning that the timing of their development could lead to crooked growth.
Also, nutrition during early childhood and adolescence, can affect jaw development and wisdom teeth eruption.
Unbalanced nutrition can lead to improper jaw development, causing insufficient space for wisdom teeth and leading to their crooked eruption.
Moreover, sometimes wisdom teeth can get ‘stuck’ or ‘impacted’ in the jawbone, forcing them to grow at an angle.
This scenario typically unfolds when the wisdom tooth is blocked by the tooth in front of it, or when the tooth grows at an angle that clashes with the direction of the other teeth.
II. Is it bad if your wisdom teeth grow crooked?
When wisdom teeth, the last to our oral cavity, grow crooked, it’s a phenomenon known as impaction.
The misalignment of these molars can lead to numerous problems. Firstly, it can lead to overcrowding, pushing other teeth out of alignment, resulting in an irregular bite.
This can cause discomfort and affect how we chew.
Next, these impacted teeth create cozy pockets for bacteria, making them hubs for infection. The ensuing inflammation could lead to gum disease, an unpleasant condition with the potential for long-term damage.
Thirdly, the pressure from the crooked growth can cause discomfort, leading to chronic pain in the mouth or even headaches.
It can even cause cysts or tumors to form around the impacted tooth, leading to damage to the surrounding bone or roots.
1. Can They cause jaw misalignment?
Crooked or impacted wisdom teeth can indeed indirectly contribute to jaw misalignment, although this is somewhat rare.
Wisdom teeth are large, and when they erupt in an already crowded mouth, they can apply pressure to adjacent teeth.
This pressure can cause a domino effect, displacing other teeth and possibly leading to misalignment of the jaw.
Moreover, if an impacted wisdom tooth leads to an infection, the resulting inflammation can cause jaw discomfort and potentially affect jaw movement.
2. Can crooked wisdom teeth mess up your other teeth?
Absolutely, they can have a profound impact on the rest of your teeth.
These third molars can push against the second molars, causing misalignment, pain, and potential damage.
This pressure can lead to a chain reaction of shifting teeth, disturbing the overall dental harmony.
Additionally, hard-to-clean pockets can develop around impacted wisdom teeth, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease in surrounding teeth.
3. Can they cause crowding?
Yes, crowding is one of the primary issues caused by crooked wisdom teeth. If the jaw doesn’t have enough space to accommodate these late-emerging teeth, they can push the existing teeth, leading to overcrowding.
This crowded condition can result in teeth overlapping or twisting, compromising your bite and oral hygiene.
It’s crucial to monitor wisdom teeth growth through regular dental visits to avoid such complications.
4. Do They have to be removed?
The answer lies predominantly in the realm of individual circumstances.
If your wisdom teeth are crooked, but aren’t causing pain, inflammation, or interfering with the alignment of your other teeth, extraction may not be necessary.
However, when these teeth lead to discomfort, difficulty in cleaning, or increased risk of decay or gum disease, dental professionals often advise extraction.
An impacted tooth that’s growing in a challenging position can also cause chronic discomfort or damage neighboring teeth, warranting removal. In essence, it’s a judgment best made in conjunction with an experienced dental professional.
5. How can I prevent my wisdom teeth from growing crooked?
In truth, there’s not much you can do to prevent them from growing crooked.
Factors like the size of your jaw, the angle of tooth eruption, and genetics are beyond your control.
While maintaining good oral health is important, it doesn’t guarantee straight-growing wisdom teeth.
However, regular dental check-ups can ensure early detection of any issues, allowing for timely intervention.
6. What is the best age to address crooked wisdom teeth?
There’s no universally “best” age, but wisdom teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25.
Regular dental examinations during this period are key to monitor their development and orientation.
If issues are identified, dental professionals often recommend extraction in the late teens or early twenties.
At this age, wisdom teeth roots aren’t fully formed, and the surrounding bone is less dense, making extraction and recovery generally smoother.
7. Can They cause sinus problems?
While it may sound surprising, the answer is yes, crooked wisdom teeth, particularly those in the upper jaw, can contribute to sinus issues.
The roots of these teeth can extend quite close to the sinus cavity.
If the wisdom tooth becomes inflamed or infected, it could lead to swelling that affects the sinus, causing pressure, pain, and even sinus infections.
However, it’s important to note that not all sinus problems are linked to dental issues.
8. Is it possible to straighten crooked teeth without surgery?
The feasibility of straightening them without surgery largely depends on the extent of the misalignment and the overall oral health of the individual.
Minor cases might be addressed with orthodontic treatments like braces or clear aligners.
However, third molars are often more challenging due to their location and size.
More often than not, if crooked wisdom teeth are causing problems, extraction is recommended.
9. Can crooked wisdom teeth cause facial swelling?
Yes, crooked wisdom teeth can result in facial swelling.
This can occur if the misalignment leads to infection, cyst formation, or a condition called pericoronitis – an inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth.
The swelling can manifest on the side of the face where the problematic tooth resides.
Pain, difficulty opening the mouth, and even fever may accompany the swelling.
10. Can crooked wisdom teeth cause headaches?
Indeed, crooked wisdom teeth can trigger headaches. If a wisdom tooth grows in crooked, it can exert pressure on adjacent teeth and the jaw, leading to discomfort and, over time, chronic headaches.
Furthermore, if a misaligned third molar tooth causes an infection or inflammation, the body’s response can include muscle tension or spasms, potentially resulting in headaches.
III. Is it necessary to remove crooked wisdom teeth?
To answer in a simple, direct way would be misleading. The reality is more nuanced, dependent on a multitude of factors.
To start, it is important to understand that not all crooked wisdom teeth cause problems.
There are indeed fortunate individuals in whom these teeth, despite their unusual alignment, cause no significant discomfort, do not contribute to dental crowding or decay, and maintain an amicable coexistence with their surrounding tissues.
In such instances, extraction may not be required, and these wisdom teeth can be left in situ, provided they are carefully monitored during routine dental check-ups.
On the flip side, the removal of crooked wisdom teeth is typically advised when they start causing issues.
It is here that we find a broad array of potential problems. A wisdom tooth growing at an odd angle can push against its neighboring molar, leading to pain, decay, or even damage to this otherwise healthy tooth.
If the tooth has partially erupted – a common scenario with crooked wisdom teeth – it can create an area that is difficult to clean effectively, inviting bacterial invasion and paving the way for gum disease and cavities.
Furthermore, the misaligned tooth could become impacted, meaning it is blocked from fully emerging by the jawbone or the adjacent tooth.
This can lead to a cyst forming around the tooth, which, if left untreated, could damage bone and other teeth. Such conditions would necessitate extraction.
IV. Are there any home remedies for alleviating pain from crooked wisdom teeth?
Yes, several home remedies can provide temporary relief from the discomfort caused by crooked wisdom teeth.
Rinse with warm salt water several times daily. This simple and natural solution can reduce inflammation and fight bacteria.
Cold compresses applied externally to the affected area can also mitigate swelling and numb pain.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, are effective too. However, these remedies merely address the symptoms.
If pain persists, seek dental advice as the wisdom tooth may require professional treatment or removal.
V. Other questions about crooked wisdom teeth
1. Wisdom tooth growing sideways but no pain?
A wisdom tooth growing sideways, a condition known as horizontal impaction, doesn’t always cause immediate discomfort.
However, it’s still a matter of concern due to potential complications. Sideways growth may lead to crowding, damage to adjacent teeth, decay, or gum disease, given the difficulty cleaning the area.
Although there’s no pain now, problems may arise later.
2. Can wisdom teeth shift your teeth after braces?
Yes, erupting wisdom teeth can potentially cause shifting, even after orthodontic treatment with braces.
If a wisdom tooth grows in crooked or becomes impacted, it may exert pressure on adjacent teeth, causing them to shift.
This can disrupt the alignment achieved by braces. Regular monitoring and retention are important parts of post-brace care to maintain the newly straightened teeth.
3. Will my teeth straighten after wisdom teeth extraction?
While wisdom teeth extraction can help prevent crowding and misalignment, it is important to understand that the extraction itself is not a corrective measure for crooked teeth.
In other words, wisdom teeth removal will not automatically straighten your existing teeth.
If teeth have already shifted due to pressure from impacted or crooked wisdom teeth, orthodontic intervention may be required to correct the alignment.
4. Can wisdom teeth shift your jaw
Wisdom teeth themselves do not directly cause a shift in jaw alignment. However, they can indirectly influence your jaw.
For example, if an impacted wisdom tooth leads to significant pain, you might unintentionally adjust your bite or jaw position for comfort, which could potentially affect your jaw alignment over time.
Moreover, issues like tumors or cysts, although rare, could develop around impacted wisdom teeth and could cause jaw damage.
5. Why do experts now say not to remove your wisdom teeth?
In recent years, there’s been a shift in perspective about the necessity of routine wisdom teeth removal. Some even advise keeping wisdom teeth except in cases of force majeure!
Experts have begun advocating for a more individualized approach.
This paradigm shift is largely due to the understanding that not all wisdom teeth — even if they are impacted or growing in at an angle — will cause problems.
If the teeth are asymptomatic and the patient maintains good oral hygiene, active surveillance might be suggested over prophylactic extraction.
The key here is consistent monitoring so that any emerging problems can be addressed promptly.
However, if there is a high risk of complications, extraction may still be the best course.
The wisdom behind the third molars removal: A prospective study of 106 cases
Estimated Cumulative Incidence of Wisdom Tooth Extractions in Privately Insured US Patients