Can You Get Clear Aligners with Wisdom Teeth?
In many cases, patients can still be viable candidates for removable clear aligners with veneers, bridges, crowns, or other dental restorations. In some cases, they can even still be viable clear aligner candidates with missing teeth; in those scenarios, an orthodontist can fill in the gaps where a missing tooth would be using a tooth-colored pontic wax.
But where do wisdom teeth factor into this equation? Would their presence affect treatment candidacy, not be that big a deal, or vary case-by-case? Likewise, is there one ideal timeframe to have your wisdom teeth removed with aligners? Keep reading to find out.
Do Wisdom Teeth Affect Aligners?
Wisdom teeth, commonly among the most impacted teeth, are the last set of molars, which often struggle to erupt due to room constraints in the mouth. They are unusual relative to other teeth because they typically start growing later (after the age of 7), and like the appendix relative to other organs, they don’t serve a clearly discernable purpose for modern humans.
These teeth usually begin erupting between ages 17 to 21, a timeframe which may coincide with a patient seeking removable clear aligner treatment. Fortunately, in many cases, a painless, asymptomatic wisdom tooth will not affect clear aligner treatment.
In most instances, the presence of wisdom teeth will not impede treatment progress. Before fitting your clear aligners, your orthodontist can perform an x-ray examination to assess whether the wisdom tooth would lead to potential problems later down the line.
Even if the wisdom teeth are erupted and extracted during clear aligner treatment, it shouldn’t hinder progress in most cases: your orthodontist can trim the aligner back and leave space to accommodate the erupted tooth or surgical site.
Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth Before Getting Aligners?
Studies show around 85% of people will need to have their wisdom teeth extracted at least some point during their lifetime. So unless you’re part of that rare 15%, odds are high that wisdom teeth extraction will be an eventual inevitability in your smile journey. Symptomatic signs that may cause a doctor to recommend wisdom teeth removal include:
- Pushing on neighboring teeth
- Gum inflammation and infection
- Tooth decay and/or tooth loss
- Jaw pain and numbness
- Cysts and/or tumors
- Trouble biting and eating
- Intense headaches and earaches
- Persistent bad breath related to decay and disease
The problems associated with wisdom teeth highly vary on a case-by-case basis, but in these cases, their presence could be problematic, not just for your clear aligners, but your mouth, too. That’s why your dentist or orthodontist may sometimes recommend getting your wisdom teeth removed as a preventative measure: even if no problems would arise, it can be better to remain safe than sorry, especially with how frequently extractions end up required.
While removal could occur at any point on the treatment timeline (depending on diagnosis), you may want to just get it over with and extract them sooner rather than later.
Will Wisdom Teeth Removal Straighten Teeth?
Even if the presence of wisdom teeth wouldn’t interfere with smile journey during orthodontic treatment, is there still a chance that they could interfere with your results after orthodontic treatment? Wisdom teeth are often constrained with less room to erupt than other teeth, and that additional pressure could prompt additional crowding, spacing, and shifting issues, right? Not really.
Though people may perceive that their alignment has shifted following wisdom teeth removal, that’s just what it is; a perception. Your bite alignment may feel different following extraction, but in reality, extraction doesn’t drastically align or misalign the teeth — and neither would leaving them in.
You may still want to have them removed for indirect complications to orthodontic treatment, like pain or periodontal disease, but there’s not much substantial evidence to suggest that wisdom teeth would directly affect occlusal alignment.
You may feel a little more breathing room in your bite with the pressure gone, but regular retainer wear will have a bigger impact on preventing post-treatment results from shifting into orthodontic relapse than wisdom teeth removal.
Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Covered by Insurance?
The cost to remove wisdom teeth typically varies from a few hundred to a little over $1000, depending on a wide range of factors:
- Case complexity
- Number of teeth that need removal
- Exams and x-rays
- Location of provider
- Extent of eruption
The good news is that most dental insurance plans will cover a portion of the cost of wisdom teeth extraction and oral surgical procedures, so long as they’re deemed medically necessary! Still, always consult your insurance provider directly to verify whether or not your provider would offer dental coverage for wisdom tooth extraction.
Even if you don’t have dental insurance, there are alternative avenues you can pursue to cover at least a portion of the cost. Wisdom tooth extraction is an eligible expense under normal flexible spending accounts (FSAs), limited care FSAs, and health savings accounts (HSAs). Additionally, your orthodontic provider may be willing to meet you in the middle with a flexible, affordable low monthly payment plan.
But before you worry about paying for any necessary procedures, it’s important to verify that there is in fact, something to worry about. One way to verify that is by consulting a trusted, licensed orthodontist.
During your initial consultation for clear aligner treatment, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask whether or not the presence of your wisdom teeth would cause problems. From there, your orthodontist can verify whether or not wisdom teeth extraction would be a necessary procedure.