Your wisdom teeth are actually molars located in the upper and lower right and left of your jaw, back behind your other molars. They are commonly referred to as “wisdom teeth” because they appear between the ages of 17 and 25 years old — long after all your other adult teeth come in.

Some people’s wisdom teeth never come in or only partially erupt. Others have all four of their wisdom teeth come in and experience no negative effects. In these cases, leaving the teeth as they are is best. However, emerging wisdom teeth often crowd the jaw and create misalignment. In this case, a wisdom teeth removal is the best course of action.

Many people wonder if their teeth will shift after a wisdom extraction. This is a natural question, especially when you know someone whose bite or smile changed after undergoing a wisdom teeth removal. Let’s take a look at what happens to your mouth after a wisdom tooth extraction.

Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth removal is a very common practice. There is some evidence our jaws are getting smaller, but the size of our teeth has not changed over the past few thousand years. As a result, many people do not have room in their mouth for third molars.

Many dental schools used to teach all unerupted third molars should be removed. Now, dental best practices suggest if you are 35 and your wisdom teeth still have not come in, they should be left as they are — although they should be monitored very closely with x-rays every few years.

In some cases, your wisdom teeth can cause crowding in your mouth, making your teeth push against each other. Wisdom teeth that become impacted because of insufficient space in the mouth are usually removed to prevent overcrowding.

Will Teeth Shift After Wisdom Extraction?

The short answer is no. There are many signs of misalignment of the teeth and/or jaw. Be sure to talk to your dentist if you experience:

  • Jaw tenderness (especially when chewing or biting down);
  • A misaligned bite;
  • Pain or discomfort on certain teeth (as a result of overcrowding);
  • Pain in or around your ear;Trouble opening or closing your mouth;
  • Clicking or popping noises in your jaw while chewing, yawning, or opening and closing your jaw; or
  • Moderate or severe pain in your face.

Wisdom tooth extraction is performed to relieve these symptoms. If these symptoms stop after your mouth has fully healed, your teeth have not shifted. Wisdom teeth removal does not cause the teeth to shift and therefore cannot cause misalignment.

However, many patients do report changes in their bite after their wisdom teeth are removed. This is especially prevalent in patients whose wisdom teeth were severely impacted, causing pressure on their other teeth.

Patients who have all four wisdom teeth removed at once may also experience a difference in their bite. This can be caused by a number of factors, particularly recovery time and the force with which you bite down.

Recovery Time

Before you worry about whether your teeth have shifted, allow your mouth the full amount of time it needs to recover. Swelling of the gums, bruising, and post-procedure pain can make you feel like your teeth have shifted.

Full recovery after wisdom teeth removal generally takes about two weeks. Depending on your age, health, pain tolerance, and the severity of your condition it could take more or less time to heal.

After the initial pain has passed, you should also allow time for your teeth to settle in the absence of the pressure caused by your wisdom teeth. If you are still in a lot of pain or your bite feels misaligned after three to four weeks, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Bite Force

When your teeth are misaligned because of the pressure of your wisdom teeth, one or several of your other teeth commonly take the majority of the force when you bite down. Misaligned teeth that are more prominent or stick out may absorb greater impact when chewing or biting, causing pain and discomfort.

Once your wisdom teeth are removed, the pressure on the protruding teeth is reduced. They no longer take the brunt of the force when you bite or chew. Relieving the pressure of your wisdom teeth on your mouth allows the bite force to be spread more evenly across all of your teeth.

When you have lived with misaligned teeth for a long time, biting down in a different way can feel very strange. Teeth may suddenly align and come together where they did not before. This can make you feel like your teeth have moved.

In reality, however, your teeth will not shift after a wisdom teeth removal. Instead, they settle back into their rightful place without the pressure of your wisdom teeth. In a few weeks, you will grow used to your new and improved bite and forget what it used to feel like.

Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

As with any other surgical procedure, you and your dentist should weigh the benefits and risks when deciding to have your wisdom teeth removed. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause extreme pain, discomfort, and misalignment of your teeth. If this is the case, you should generally have your wisdom teeth removed.

On the other hand, if you are not in pain and no pressure is exerted on your other teeth, you may be able to leave your wisdom teeth alone. Talk to your dentist about your options.

For More Information

Still wondering if teeth will shift after a wisdom extraction? For answers to your questions about wisdom tooth removal or other aspects of dental care, contact Dean Dental Solutions today! Visit us online or call 501-771-2911 to schedule an appointment.