The short answer: NO! We hear this all the time. An adult will say “My teeth were straight when I had my braces removed as a teenager, but then my wisdom teeth came in and made them crooked.” Or we are asked “Will wisdom teeth make my child’s teeth crooked if they are not removed after we finish treatment?” About 40 or so years ago, it was common to blame wisdom teeth for dental crowding.
However, current peer-reviewed research shows that wisdom teeth do not “push” on the other teeth enough to move them, nor do they contribute to relapse after orthodontic treatment. The studies have shown that even if individuals do not have wisdom teeth present, the rest of the teeth, especially bottom front teeth, tend to crowd with age. This is regardless of whether the person had orthodontic treatment before.
How do you prevent your beautiful straight teeth from crowding with age? Wear your retainers! This is why we recommend retainers be worn “Nighttime for Lifetime.” Since other factors such as a decrease in arch length (the total “housing” your teeth reside in), your lower incisors tipping backwards, arch narrowing, and growth changes naturally occur, wearing your retainers will maintain your teeth in the position they were when you finished treatment.
The next logical question would be whether you need to get your wisdom teeth removed. Unless we are doing some special orthodontic movements where we try to move your back teeth backwards (toward the back of your mouth), or if the wisdom teeth are blocking your 12 year old molars from erupting, I will generally say that having your wisdom teeth will not affect my job of straightening the teeth and fixing the bite. However, if they are in a poor position, they can cause other issues, including bone loss on the backs of the 12 year old molars, infections due to food impaction, root resorption, etc. As a result, throughout treatment, I will always monitor your wisdom teeth and tell you if I think you need to have them evaluated by your dentist or an oral surgeon.
In conclusion, wisdom teeth do not make your teeth crooked! Please let us know if you have any further questions!
Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1999;115:628-33.