Common Conditions

Can Wisdom Teeth Surgery Cause a Thinning of the Face?

Is it possible for the face and jaw to narrow after wisdom teeth removal?

by Dr. Burhenne

Can wisdom teeth surgery cause a narrowing of the face?
Q:

I had my wisdom teeth removed six months ago at the age of 21. My appearance seems to have changed. My jaw seems narrower and seems to sit a little higher on my face. Is this possible.

A: Myself, as well as many others, have experienced this change in appearance after having wisdom teeth removed.

I inform my patients of this fact as I consider it to be part of informed consent. Informed consent is required to be given by a healthcare practitioner to the patient before any procedure is agreed upon so that the patient knows exactly what to expect.

Of course, before wisdom teeth surgery, we mention the obvious risks like infection, nerve damage, and broken jaw, but I feel it’s important to inform a patient that there is a change in appearance as well. The good news is that it’s usually something patients find to be an improvement.

Many people will find that their jaw structure and facial features are more defined after wisdom teeth surgery. In fact, many professional models have their wisdom teeth removed to give them the look of having higher cheekbones. The danger here, of course, is that people have teeth taken out for aesthetics reasons, and not health reasons. Of course, I do not recommend this.

Blog Notes:  About Mark Burhenne DDS

Welcome! My name is Dr. Mark Burhenne, or Dr. B for short. When did we start seeing the mouth as separate from the rest of the human body?

The mouth doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is intimately connected to the health of the rest of the body.

In fact, the bacteria and entire environment inside the mouth are connected to the rest of your body so intimately that the state of your oral health can predict whether you’ll have heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

In my 30 years of practice as a dentist, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation and people who have fallen through the cracks due to our healthcare system’s failure to understand the oral-body connection.

I created this blog to empower people to understand how your mouth is a window into the health of the rest of your body.

It is my sincere hope that the knowledge and tools on this blog will lead to greater health and well-being for you and those you love.

Throughout this website you’ll find high-quality articles and free resources for getting and staying healthy. It’s the info I use to keep myself and my family healthy, and how I treat my patients.

I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.S. in Biochemistry and B.A. in History of Art and had the privilege of attending the University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, consistently ranked among the best in the US.

I am an active member of several continuing education groups and study clubs in prosthetics and periodontology that perform actual clinical work on patients. I have worked as an expert witness in legal dental cases. I’ve also volunteered as a dental surgeon in Jos, Nigeria.

I raised three daughters without cavities (all without ingestion of fluoride). I enjoy downhill skiing, alpine touring, mountain biking, photography, and listening to jazz and classical records (you know, those flat analog 12-inch vinyl discs).

I am passionate about restoring teeth to their original function and beauty – and as someone who studied art history and is a hobbyist photographer, the intersection of art and the opportunity to help people makes dentistry my dream profession.

I welcome your comments and questions and encourage you to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to get the latest on oral and dental health.

Mark Burhenne DDS

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

60 Comments

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    • Kyle,

      Good question! Initially, it’s the actual physical lack of the presence of the wisdom teeth, which support the cheeks and muscles. Over time, it’s the lack of bone as it resorbs over many years. After many years, the muscular forces can also undergo a physical reprogramming, creating facial changes as well. It’s all three of the above happening at different times, but it’s amazing how visible the change is right away! You nailed it.

      Mark Burhenne DDS

      • I had my lower wisdom teeth removed last year, and I have since observed that my face lost a bit of definition and my cheeks/jaw appears a little fatter or “puffier.”

        Is it possible that this happened because ONLY the lower teeth were removed?

        And could my face regain its definition after my upper wisdom teeth are removed next month? Or could this even worsen the appearance.

        I am really worried about the consequences of this procedure and would appreciate a response to my worries. Thanks for being such a great resource!

        Tony

        • Getting your upper wisdom teeth removed would make it worse and create a flatter, chubbier appearance. Keeping your wisdom teeth allows your jaw to expand to the normal beautiful appearance of what humans were intended to be created to look like, with strong, healthy jaws. 🙂

  1. I just got all four of my wisdom teeth removed in early November and noticed this two weeks later. At first I was glad that I got rid of them for one reason, that being it caused overcrowding (I now have to get invisalign braces). But then I noticed that it caused my cheeks and jawline to be more defined which is perfectly fine by me lol. I went online to see if anyone else had noticed this and luckily found this article. Thanks for writing it.

  2. Thanks for the question and the article because this summer im going to get my wisdom teeth removed and i really wanted to see if that would happen. Im glad to get rid of them because they are starting to hurt and that thinner, more defined cheeks and jawline would be a good benefit, if you know what i mean. 🙂

  3. I am a senior. I took anitbiotics for the removal of a wisdon tooth. I also have a heart murmur that is age related. I was suppose to have the removal done on May 21, 2011. I took the last pill on May 18, 2011. Will I need to have another round of anibiotics before I have my wisdom tooth removed? Will I also need to have additional medicaton due to my heart murmur.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

  4. I already have defined cheekbones and jaws. I am supposed to have all wisdom teeth removed. I had one lower wisdom tooth removed but I think it’s lessening the defintition of my cheek! is this possible?

  5. Thanks for confirming this. I had my left wisdom teeth out ten years ago and have noticed slight facial asymmetry, particularly of the jaw, ever since. I never had it as a teen and rather suspected the teeth might’ve been the culprit. Just had the right side out so hopefully things will even out. Nice to know I wasn’t imagining things.

  6. I could not understand why my face was not the same on both sides, on the right side were I have had my wisdom tooth removed it is more defined. Do you think that if I have my left wisdom tooth removed my face will become symmetrical?

  7. Dr. Burhenne,

    I had my #3 tooth removed close to three months ago due to a nonrestorable crack. I have already noticed an asymmetry in my face. The right side of my face seems to have sunk and my cheekbone is more pronounced. I am a thin person with naturally high cheek bones. However, I have a noticeable asymmetry that is really bothering my confidence. I have an appointment this week with my Doctor to see if I am a candidate for a dental implant.

    What can I do to regain symmetry. Will an implant help regain a more symmetrical appearance.

    Respectfully,

    Amy

  8. Hello, I had my wisdom tooth removed a couple of months ago. The surgery was very difficult and took around 3 hours, so my mouth was open wide all those hours. I noticed a change in my lips shape and when i smile i can see more of the gum, especially in the left side. Is this possible? Could this happen after a very long period of time opening the mouth?????????

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  9. I got my wisdom teeth removed only on the left side and now it looks like one side of my face is higher then the other, is that possible??

  10. i had all 4 out over a period of a month, 6 months ago. so many people say to me “gee, you lost A LOTTA weight”, then look at my body, and kinda say “oh…” i thought it was age (30) and smoking, which of course makes a difference, but no… it’s since i had the wisdoms out. my face is more sculpted but i do look older. in a way it looks cool.

  11. Thank you for being a good doctor and caring about your patients. You are one of very few doctors/dentists who inform their clients about this often overlooked but noticeable and serious change. Our face is the first thing we look at a mirror each morning. To see your face sunken in and the jawline dissapear is all but devastating. I experienced it myself and I am heart broken at the change of my face. I wish I had known ahead of time. I will have a consultation next week for dental implants for wisdom teeth. Do you know if this will improve the shape of the face?

  12. Hi, I have all four of my wisdom teeth growing in, just 1/4 of my tooth has erupted out of my gum, and have not yet seen the difference in face structure? does the face structure change as it grows as a full tooth?

  13. HI, I WAS SUPPOSED TO REMOVE MY TWO LOWER WISDOM TOOTH BUT WHEN I SAW THIS ARTICLE AND READ IT…. I FELT SO AFRAID TO GO TO THE DENTIST. I THINK I WILL CHANGE MY MIND AND FORGOT MY TEETH CAN YOU HELP ME.I THINK MY SELF-ESTEEM WILL CRUSHING DOWN UHH!!

  14. Hello there, Reading through all the comments and seeing a mixed response of problems/advantages people have been given through this surgery, Im looking at getting my wisdom teeth taken out as they are causing me alot of pain and also leaving minimum space in my mouth for my other teeth. I was wondering if i was to get my bottom 2 out it would change the way my face looked in anyway? I like to think i have a nice pair of upper teeth(i think i do + have a good jawline) im also pleased to hear about the positive feedback people have from getting the top 2 wisdom teeth taken out.. if i was to get them out also would it disfigure my top teeth? )Sorry for the long paragraph) towards the back on my mouth(upper set) i had a baby tooth taken out not long ago and it left a gap. i was told i would close up in time but if i have my wisdom teeth taken out.. will this prevent the gap from closing due to having to much room on the upper set? I’d appreciate a response and im very nervous! Thanks!!

    • If you had growing pains during puberty, would you be willing to chop off your leg? If not, then why take out natural wisdom teeth? They’re still growing.

      My friend’s legs hurt so bad during puberty. But now she’s all better and a beautiful young lady. 🙂

  15. hi ,i had removed my 3 wisdom tooth. i found that my cheeks became thin, can u give any suggestion to recover from thin cheeks i.e cheeks in my original posistion

  16. I had my wisdom teeth removed over 10 years ago. I thought I was imagining it but I began noticing my lower jaw is not lining-up correct with my upper jaw anymore and my smile now looks off-center, which is pretty upsetting. My whole mouth from the top to the bottom looks like its pushing to my right. It also appears that the back of the top jaw (location of the wisdom teeth) may have dropped somewhat as I see a lot of the gum-line on the sides when I smile which I did not have before. These changes are very obvious to me when I look at my pictures. I just think I look different now and I hate it. The choice to listen to my dentist and get all four of my wisdom teeth removed when only one was problematic is one decision I will regret for the rest of my life. I sustained permanent nerve damage on the side that was not a problem, (half of my tongue is numb), and now this “twisting” of the face, as I call it. I am wondering if there is anything that can be done to fix this that will slide my bottom jaw back into place. Thank you.

    • Charity: Sorry this happened to you. This is not a good result of course. It sounds like the nerve damage could be affecting your muscles of facial expression. You really need to see a neurologist for the nerve damage and a very skilled dentist to see why your bite is changing. Good luck.

      drb

  17. I” having braces on my teeth b’cos one side of my front was a bit overlap .Before I lost two of the lower tooth nest to the last mullar which i’m considering doing inplant to fixed it . my dentist trying to remove two of my healthier windom teeth saying it will help him to create explace for the inplant and i told him its not going to help my facial line. He get attitude saying i have done for the pass 25 years and there’s not side effect. I need your your answer for my treatment. Thanx

  18. i had my lower left wisdom tooth removed which was creating problem making absess… should i remove my other three or not because other three are just fine ..no abseess no pain.. will this change my face structure if i dont remove other three???

  19. I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed over a year and a half ago now, and since then I have experienced limited mouth opening, chronic inflammation, pain, jaw lock and face distortion (muscles repairing with scar tissue). So I’m left with a much more round, unatural face, with bulging cheek muscles and a case of severe guilt and depression over having the surgeory. You see, I had braces as a teen, then after getting them removed my wisdoms errupted with not much space left for them. My straight teeth started to crowd and my dentist recommended to avoid further crowding and gum infections to get all 4 wisdoms removed. I must admit, I was a happy, felt pretty in my own skin kinda girl. Now, I hate a picture being taken of me, when I smile it hurts, or when I laugh to hard I feel pain. I have flashbacks of the surgeory and look back of old photos of me everynight and feel immense regret and self blame for not being grateful for what I had. I don’t know how to move on or deal with these sad feelings I experience every time I feel my face hurt or when I see a photo of myself now. Please help, I’m not vain I just miss the old happy healthy me.

  20. I think you have not considered the high cost of education to become a dentist..both college and dental school..then to maintain an office and carry malpractice insurance. It is not as simple as you seem to think..what we need is affordable education, affordable student loans, and an end to frivolous lawsuits which have driven many good doctors and dentists away from the profession.

  21. Hi! Can the removal of wisdom teeth also help with the jaw’s range of motion? I had all 4 taken out about a month ago. The pain lasted about 2 weeks, but now it feels like I can open my mouth further. I had issues with my mouth only opening an inch for a year (several years ago) and had shots into my “hinge” that improved things significantly. However, I never felt lie I could open my mouth the whole way. Now it feels like I can…is this because of the teeth?

  22. Hello, i also had the 2 bottom wisdom tooth removed when i was 35 and i suffered an injury to my right never , i could not feel my right lip and half jaw, thank God i got most of the sensation back , i still have maybe 2% that is damaged. Do you think this will completely come back 100%? Also, my face was already long and thin and now it is even thinner and i look older, very upset about this , if i knew this would have never took them off. is there any remedy to regain the stronger jaw, maybe jaw excercise? maybe implant back my wisdom tooth, or i was thinking of having my teeth move back with invisalign as i still have a bit of crowding theeth but my dentist does not want to move them back he would only straighten my front teeth i instead woudl like to move alo my back teeth more back. Is this possible? would it help? i also see asymmetry on my face. What can i do? also my friend noticed teh difference and you can see it from the photos. Please help. Thank you

  23. Hi,

    I’m extremely despondent over the fact that I’m not just being paranoid, wisdom teeth extraction does cause facial changes. Like other commenters, I’m having a consultation to get dental implants. To Dr. Mark and other commenters: Does everyone have any experience with implants for 3rd molars? Would they likely regenerate the bone/restore the face? Thanks and good luck to everyone! I’d personally recommend looking into the implant route..

  24. I’ve also had a similar experience and am distressed about the effect. My face is narrower, chin seems more recessed, forehead looks tired and stressed, cheekbones less defined, and my sleep quality is worse because my bite is different, less room to breathe. I’ve spoken to multiple oral surgeons, 3 in NYC, about placing implants but they refuse to saying that would be malpractice. I don’t know what to do. if anyone is successful getting implants please provide information about the dentist. Thank you

  25. Yes please let us know if you got the implants! I had 2 taken out on left side and now my bite is all messed up and my jaw is totally less defined! I hate it!

  26. I’m 31 and had all 4 removed 2 weeks ago, the swelling went down last week and my jaw is less defined, my cheeks sunken in, and my eyes blackened. I have trouble even looking in the mirror, please let me know if anyone has found the solution

  27. So happy I found this article. My cheeks are naturally full and I had all of my wisdom teeth out yesterday (they were causing severe pain and swelling) i’m hoping In time my cheeks will thin out a little and my jawline will be more defined.

  28. This has not been a positive result for me. After noticing the change immediately, I asked about it. I was told it would self-correct. There seemed to be nerve damage as well, after waking up during the surgery, and I had to consciously reprogram myself to hold my lip down to avoid having the appearance of snarling and to learn to speak again, so my words were clearer. The appearance is considerably thin on one side of the face, while the other seems to be normal. It’s almost as if one side is becoming/has become concave. It is most noticeable when I smile. After avoiding pictures after the surgery, I was recently reminded of how severe the change has become. I also had an additional wisdom tooth removed, since I had more than the average number. It’s pretty much been a nightmare.

    • I’ve noticed that the effects have gotten more pronounced with time. Years later, the change seems more severe, as my facial structure has been rebuilt and the gaps which once existed have closed.

  29. i have a round face and a week after removing wisdom tooth on my left side, i noticed my cheekbones are defined but of course since it still swells, a bit, my cheecks are full. Im gonna have another surgery, this time on my right side next week. Hopefully, the change is symmetrical to the left side. And if its not, lets hope my braces will help correct.

  30. So there’s no solution for this??
    I took 2 upper wisdom teeth out a couple of months ago and now i look terrible. I had an amazing smile now my cheecks won’t move up when i smile. I feel like i smile side ways. My eyes don’t smile at all as if i look silly. I really hate this. I have more lines around my nose and mouth. My eyes are droopy with very dark circles. I don’t know what to do. I used to look much younger than i am but now i’m much older.
    Plz if any one has any solution

  31. I have the same issue accept mine is the opposite ? The dentist should’ve told me that before I allowed him to remove it. I had a few lower molars removed too and now my cheeks looks a little warn. Can I put implants back into my lower molars?

  32. Hi!
    Really interesting article. I have a QUESTION though. I just had my wisdom tooth removed of the lower right side of my mouth. Right now there is swelling so can’t really tell if there is a thining or not. But, as only right side wisdom tooth was extracted, does that mean my face will become asymmetrical?
    Thanks

  33. I was scheduled to have an upper wisdom tooth taken out due to a cavity that got so bad the dentist said it needs a root canal. Nice as I get my teeth cleaned every four months and exrays once a year. How could a cavity get so bad the tooth now needs a root canal. The night before my surgery, I met a friend who is a nurse and she was telling me that having your teeth pulled can age you and you loose that part of the bone as it dies after the tooth is removed. She also said there is risk of nerve damage and loosing fat pads in your cheek. I was up all night and couldn’t sleep worrying if I was making the right decision. I got up at 4am and left a voice mail canceling my apt. saying I had the flu. So I think I will fork out the big bucks for a root canal and crown on a wisdom tooth I really do not need simply because I don’t want to look different and older.

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