Although it use to be a popular belief that wisdom teeth caused movement and crowding of all other teeth in the mouth, more and more research is showing that they do not. The research results show that wisdom teeth don’t cause other teeth to move, and it is inappropriate to extract them just for the reason to prevent unwanted dental movements.

The animation above displays a front tooth movement because of the eruption of wisdom teeth. It was an old belief of the dental community, but now we know that wisdom teeth do not cause movement of other teeth.

Research has actually shown that tooth movement in the front teeth occurs naturally in adulthood even if wisdom teeth are not there.

What are wisdom teeth?

Also called third molars, wisdom teeth are the furthest teeth away in the back of the mouth. For those teeth to come out into the mouth by erupting fully, and to function fully, there has to be enough space in the upper and lower jaw. But most people do not have enough space, and wisdom teeth remain partially or fully impacted.

When should wisdom teeth be extracted?

As mentioned above, wisdom teeth should not be removed just to prevent other teeth from shifting. Research hasn’t proven that theory. But there are other cases where it’s advised to extract wisdom teeth, especially when they are impacted:

  • root resorption of second molars;
  • pericoronitis, or infection of the gums that occurs around a semi-erupted wisdom tooth;
  • bone defects around a wisdom tooth;
  • advanced cavity on a wisdom tooth because of difficulty of reach for proper hygiene;
  • cysts (or rarely tumours) around an impacted wisdom tooth;
  • upper wisdom teeth should be removed if the lower ones are not there (and vice versa) because they might come out too much and cause problems.


  1. Southard TE. Third molars and incisor crowding: when removal is unwarranted. J Am Dent Assoc. 1992;123: 75–79.
  2. DavisOrthodontics (Do wisdom teeth cause crowding of your front teeth?).
  3. Orthodontistes Lemay (Wisdom teeth – Myths and realities).
  4. Credit for image and animation (Dolphin imaging).

The information above should be used as a reference only. Any medical decision should not be taken before consulting a health care professional.

The masculine gender may have been more used in the article, but without prejudice, to make reading easier.

Category: questions and answers