Your Wisdom Teeth And Orthodontic Treatment

David Ross staff talking with a patient

There’s a lot to think about and consider before undergoing orthodontic treatment, but one of the unexpected benefits of it is how much you’ll learn about orthodontics itself throughout the process. As you work towards a straighter smile, you’ll become much more familiar with your own teeth and all the incredible things they’re capable of. Over time, you’ll have quite a bit of knowledge that goes beyond the basics when it comes to the ways your teeth move and grow and how braces or aligners play a part in that. But one related subject you may be missing solid information on is wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth?

Yep! Wisdom teeth. Although they aren’t necessarily common topics in orthodontics, these molars can play a role in your overall oral health. Here at David Ross Orthodontics, we sometimes have patients – or parents – who want to know if emerging wisdom teeth can interfere with orthodontic treatment, or if they’re a threat to teeth that have been straightened with braces or aligners. Let’s explore these late-blooming teeth a little further below and learn more about what they are, why they are sometimes removed, and what that means for you as an orthodontic patient.

What are wisdom teeth?

Sometimes referred to as the third molars, wisdom teeth are the teeth that grow right at the back of your jaw. Although in modern times they don’t serve any truly useful function, our ancestors needed them to chew and digest a diet that consisted of many coarse foods, such as meat, nuts, and roots. As we evolved to a more varied diet, our jaws began to shrink in response and wisdom teeth became obsolete. In many adults, they are missing entirely, and for others, they never fully come through.

In most cases, 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 wisdom teeth grow in stages instead of all at once, if you do have issues with yours, there can be 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 to avoid any unnecessary suffering!

x-ray image of wisdom teeth

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

In the not too distant past, wisdom teeth were often preemptively as a way to prevent orthodontic crowding. Most modern evidence has shown this to be unnecessary. The goal of any medical procedure is to solve a problem for the patient and to improve their health. If there is no problem with your wisdom teeth, they can simply be monitored through regular dental check-ups, rather than removing them as a preventative treatment.

That said, there are some cases where removal of the wisdom teeth makes sense. This includes situations where:

  • the wisdom teeth are causing repeated incidents of infection in the gum or cheek, often due to trapped food debris and the resulting bacteria
  • 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 coming in sideways, stuck beneath the gum, or are only partially erupted, causing impaction, which can lead to swollen, infected, and painful gums

Even if you experience one or more of these difficulties as your wisdom teeth erupt, it doesn’t mean all four 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.

Can wisdom teeth affect orthodontic treatment?

For many patients, braces will be applied before the wisdom teeth begin erupting through the gums. Wisdom teeth are late-bloomers, and don’t typically push through until your late teens or early twenties. But even if they start to emerge as you’re straightening your teeth, orthodontic treatment will generally not be affected. Most people will be able to continue the treatment process easily and without interruption. Wisdom teeth can be extracted while wearing braces if necessary, but if yours are coming through with no apparent issues, it’s unlikely we would suggest this. You know how the old saying goes – why fix it if it isn’t broken!

Can wisdom teeth affect the results of orthodontic treatment?

As we mentioned above, your wisdom teeth typically make an appearance in your late teens to early twenties. Some patients may also see a slight shifting of their teeth around this time as well. This is a natural phenomenon known as relapse, and when you consider the timing, it’s easy to see why people would believe wisdom teeth are the cause of this shifting.

However, The University of Iowa actually took this theory on in a study that involved placing sensors between the teeth of their subjects, then comparing the pressure on them with and without wisdom teeth. The researchers found that there was no difference between the two at all, proving wisdom teeth can’t exert enough pressure on their own to cause other teeth to shift.

If erupting wisdom teeth aren’t a factor in that natural drifting, you may be wondering what is. The answer to that is surprisingly simple: we age. As we get older, our teeth will begin to show signs of wear and tear, and a natural shifting begins. 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 optimal positions.

If you’re a braces patient here at David Ross Orthodontics, you’ve likely heard Dr. Ross and the rest of our team talk about how important it is to wear your retainer faithfully once your treatment is complete. This is precisely the reason why retainers are such a critical component to the overall success of the orthodontic process! Without regular retainer use, your teeth can begin shifting back towards their original positions more quickly than you’d imagine. Wearing your prescribed retainer as directed by Dr. Ross is an incredibly simple yet highly effective way to keep your teeth as straight as possible!

David Ross staff talking with a patient

For a lifetime of straight smiles, trust David Ross Orthodontics

Although it’s unlikely your wisdom teeth will affect the picture-perfect smile you’ve achieved with braces or aligners, 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 to have them take a look. We’re also happy to meet with you to discuss how this growth shouldn’t affect your orthodontic treatment or its results if you’re feeling nervous about it.

At David Ross Orthodontics, our goal is to provide a high-quality, individualized orthodontic experience for every patient. We focus on clear and open communication so you’ll feel confident in your orthodontic treatment from start to finish. Dr. Ross will work closely with your dentist to ensure not only a beautifully aligned smile, but one that is healthy and functional as well. Get in touch with us today with any questions and concerns. Your smile, comfort, and care are important to us!

Back to School Braces Survival Guide

Dr. Ross talking with a patient

Did you know that summer is one of the most popular times of the year to begin orthodontic treatment? If you had braces put on after school got out in May or June, you may find yourself wondering what this upcoming school year has in store!  You might even be feeling a little nervous or anxious about navigating braces at school for the very first time, but the good news is, it will be just another part of your daily routine in no time. Here at David Ross Orthodontics, we know that a new school year comes with new friends, teachers, subjects, and memories. We want to help you make this one of your best years yet by sharing our top tips to achieving orthodontic success in the coming months!

Keep a care kit in your backpack or locker

Braces do require a little bit of TLC, and from time to time, you may have a minor issue crop up during the school day. Food can get stuck in brackets during lunch, a wire might go haywire in homeroom and poke into your cheek – whatever your dilemma, you can ensure you’re prepared by keeping a handful of helpful items close by!

One of the easiest ways to keep up with the things you might need in a pinch is to find a small pouch to keep them in, then let it live in your locker or backpack. Some of the items we see patients frequently include are:

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • orthodontic wax (cover any areas causing irritation)
  • extra rubber bands (you should be changing them out frequently throughout the day)
  • a small mirror (to check for any trapped food particles!)
  • lip balm
  • a small cup for rinsing
  • an unsharpened pencil (the eraser end can be used to push stray wires back into place)

Take advantage of breaks and lunchtime to indulge in a spot of dental care. We recommend brushing your teeth after lunch, as well as flossing if you have time and space to do so. Braces can cause some minor irritation and temporary soreness from time to time, and if this occurs, you can use a pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax to cover the offending area, providing immediate relief. Having all of these items on hand will end up saving you a lot of time, trouble, and discomfort during your time in braces. We think anything that makes the treatment process easier belongs on the honor roll!

Bring a water bottle

Everybody knows we should be consuming about eight glasses of water a day, even if some of us have trouble sticking to that goal. Staying hydrated is always important, but drinking water is also a great way to flush out any food debris sticking to your teeth to keep your smile sparkling! It’s also great for the occasional dry mouth that can come with newer braces. Bring a full water bottle to school with you in the morning and drink it throughout the day for the best benefits. Try to stick to plain water over sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice, or sports drinks. These can cause staining and increase the risk of cavities developing.

Dr. Ross talking with a patient

Become familiar with your school’s lunch menu

If you prefer to buy lunch at school over bringing your own, it’s important to stick to the same basic rules of braces care, including avoiding anything too hard, sticky, or crunchy. To protect your braces, learn to be a little more discerning when it comes to your lunchtime choices! Check out the menu ahead of time and look for braces-friendly options like pasta, mac and cheese, soups, cooked vegetable, and lean meats. Stick to healthier snacks such as bananas, applesauce, and yogurt that are easy on your orthodontic appliance over questionable items from a vending machine to keep your braces safe and your smile looking good! Put treats like gum, candy, popcorn, hard chips, raw apples, and carrots, etc. on the back burner until your braces come off. This will help prevent any potential mishaps with your braces, like breaking a bracket or wire, which is something you don’t want happening anywhere, let alone school.

Get the right gear for gym class

If you’re active in sports or you have regular gym or P.E. classes, it’s worth investing in an orthodontic mouthguard to protect both your braces and your mouth! These are designed to be worn with braces, and are the easiest way to save your braces from damage and your mouth from injury during physical activities. Orthodontic and non-orthodontic models are widely available at most sporting goods stores, and our practice is able to recommend and order one for you as well, if you prefer. Though we strongly recommend orthodontic mouthguards for our braces-wearing patients, any mouthguard is better than none at all.

Make a little extra time in the mornings (or before bed)

Although these tips are pretty straightforward, they can sometimes feel like just one more thing, particularly when you’re already toting around books, completing assignments, and keeping up with any extracurriculars! Make things easier on yourself by carving out a little extra time before bed or first thing in the morning to prepare for the day ahead. Be honest with yourself, too – if you are a big fan of the snooze button, do yourself a favor and pack your braces care kit or fix a healthy lunch the night before instead of rushing to do it in the morning!

David Ross Orthodontics office

Kick off the new school year with a smile from David Ross Orthodontics

Going back to school with braces may have its own learning curve, but if you use our tips to stay prepared, you’ll be on your way to a straight-A smile! Dr. Ross and the rest of our dedicated team are here to help make the transition from summer into the school year as smooth and stress-free as possible. If you have any questions or concerns about navigating life as a student while in braces, get in touch with us and we’ll do all we can to set your mind at ease. We wish all our teachers and student patients in Hanover and the surrounding areas a happy start to the new school year!

What Are the Benefits of Braces Besides Straight Teeth?

girl smiling with braces

It’s easy to underestimate the power of an attractive smile, but multiple studies have shown it’s the first thing people notice about, and what they’re most likely to remember as well. At David Ross Orthodontics, we love crafting beautifully aligned smiles for patients of all ages. While aesthetics are important, orthodontic treatment like braces has a number of benefits that go beyond the cosmetic. However, braces offer a number of other benefits that go beyond the cosmetic. When your teeth and jaws are aligned, it can not only improve your appearance but boost your overall oral health as well. To learn more about what braces have to offer you besides a straighter smile, take a look below!

Understanding braces

To better understand all the benefits of braces, it helps to have some understanding of how they actually work. Traditional braces are generally made up of metal or ceramic brackets that we attach to your teeth. We will then use wires and tiny rubber bands to tie them together, exerting gentle pressure in specific directions. This is what will eventually move your teeth into the desired positions.

Braces can also help reshape the jawline by dissolving bone that will be replaced with new bone growth to support the teeth in their new positions. In addition to being incredibly effective and cost-efficient, braces can correct a number of dental issues, including:

  • difficulties with chewing or biting
  • misaligned teeth or jaws
  • excessive wear and tear of teeth
  • teeth with excessive spacing
  • overlapping or crowded teeth

When you schedule your free smile exam with Dr. Ross, he’ll start by listening to any orthodontic concerns you have, followed by a thorough look at your teeth and jaws. This assessment will help him determine if orthodontic treatment is needed and if braces could be the right fit for you.

The many benefits of braces

When your teeth and jaws are misaligned, it can affect your appearance, your overall health, and it can even cause increased difficulty with everyday activities like eating and speaking. Your regular oral hygiene routine can also suffer, becoming more difficult to maintain, or seeming to become less effective over the years. Orthodontic treatment can address and correct many of these issues. Although many people focus on how braces can create a straighter smile, some of these lesser-known benefits include:

Improved chewing

It’s not uncommon to have a hard time biting and chewing your food properly if your teeth and jaws are out of alignment. When left untreated over time, this can wear your teeth out and may lead to the muscles of the jaws weakening. In turn, these problems can cause painful chewing, which can exacerbate the issues you’re already having.

Improved digestion

You may not connect your teeth with how well your digestive system works, but chewing your food is the first, and most crucial, step of the digestive process. If you are unable to chew properly due to misaligned teeth, it can have a detrimental effect on your entire digestive system. When teeth have trouble breaking food down properly, food will pass through the digestive system much more slowly. You may also find that chewing is painful due to tooth or jaw pain, limiting what, or how often, you can eat.

Improved speech

There are parts of the body you may never imagine being affected by the teeth and jaws. For example, misaligned teeth can influence the placement of the tip of the tongue, which is essential to properly form certain sounds, such as ‘t’, ‘n’, and ‘d.’ Braces are often able to correct this type of speech issue by aligning the teeth, allowing for the proper placement of the tongue. Once an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Ross identifies a speech issue related to misalignment, he will be able to assess the severity of it and devise the most effective solution based on your particular needs.

Young Girls Smiling

Improved oral health

Brushing and flossing should be a regular part of everyone’s daily hygiene routine. But when you have crooked, crowded, or overlapping teeth, it can be difficult to keep them clean. This can create favorable conditions for a buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can increase your risk for issues such as:

  • tooth decay
  • gum disease
  • cavities
  • gingivitis

Although these kinds of dental ailments are common, they can be prevented. Orthodontic treatment like braces can move the teeth into more optimal positions, making dental hygiene easier and more effective. This reduces your potential for developing unhealthy teeth and gums.

Improved jaw alignment

Misaligned teeth can have a noticeable effect on your jaw muscles and joints. When the jaws are forced to compensate for bad positioning, the joints will adapt in response, but in a position that can cause damage. This is why jaw issues and misaligned teeth so often go hand-in-hand. Some of the symptoms you may experience with improper jaw alignment are:

  • headaches
  • jaw that pop or “creak”
  • pain in the jaw, neck, or shoulders
  • sleep disorders

With customized braces treatment by David Ross Orthodontics, issues such as these can be minimized or eliminated by properly aligning your teeth and jaws. This gives you a smile that looks and feels great!

Helps to prevent bone erosion

When tartar and plaque are allowed to build up between the teeth and along the gum line over time, it can eventually damage or destroy the bone underneath the teeth. This can cause swelling of the gums, slight bleeding, and may even cause loose teeth. If a tooth falls out, the gums can erode.

Similarly, noticeable gaps or spaces between the teeth can create the same kind of bone erosion because the misalignment puts too much pressure on the jawbone. Braces can bring teeth back together, relieving this pressure and any associated symptoms along with it.

office of David Ross

Explore how braces can work for you with David Ross Orthodontics

We’re about more than straight teeth here at David Ross Orthodontics! We’re proud to create beautifully aligned and fully functioning smiles for our patients. Our team works hard to provide clear communication and compassionate care so that your orthodontic experience is rewarding from beginning to end. We are passionate about building relationships that last a lifetime and excited to welcome you to our Hanover office. We utilize the latest technology and techniques to offer a variety of safe and gentle treatments, and our sterilization procedures brings a whole new level of protection to our patients. If you’re looking for a top-quality orthodontic practice in Hanover or the surrounding areas, and want to learn more about how orthodontics can benefit you, get in touch with David Ross Orthodontics today. The smile you deserve is waiting for you!

Invisalign… What Is That?

Orthodontist David Ross HanoverLike braces, Invisalign is an option to improve the look of your smile. It is a series of clear removable aligners that are customized to your teeth. Wearing the aligners will gradually and gently shift your teeth into place, based on the exact movements Dr. Ross plans out for you. There are no metal brackets to attach and no wires to tighten. You just pop in a new set of aligners approximately every two weeks, until your treatment is complete. The best part about the whole process is that most people won’t even know you’re straightening your teeth. 

Invisalign won’t interfere with your daily life:

  • Invisalign aligners are clear, discrete and effective at moving your teeth into their ideal positions.
  • You don’t need to change your eating habits, because your aligners can be easily removed.
  • Invisalign aligners are made of comfortable, smooth plastic, so you don’t have to worry about taking care of metal brackets.
  • Invisalign aligners make daily oral hygiene easier, reducing the risk of possible problems.
  • Invisalign treatment is covered by most insurance providers, just like traditional braces.
  • A straight smile makes you look great, but it also can help you keep the rest of your mouth healthy.
  • Correctly aligned teeth can decrease health issues that can be caused by an improper bite, speech or chewing difficulties, jaw problems, and increased wear on the tooth enamel.

If you are thinking about Invisalign, call our office at

717-637-4131 to schedule a FREE exam!