Wisdom teeth are another set of molars that are hidden under the gums and do not come in until much later than other adult teeth.
Once they start to poke through the gums, it can cause issues with other teeth and even cause jaw pain.
Misinformation and myths about wisdom teeth and removing them have confused many people into taking unnecessary steps when it comes to their wisdom teeth. In fact, not everyone will need their wisdom teeth removed and some people might not have any wisdom teeth at all.
Knowing what is fact and fiction can help ensure that you get the proper dental care that you need. Read on to learn about the most common myths about wisdom teeth and what the facts actually are.
Myth #1: Everyone has wisdom teeth
It is commonly assumed that everyone has 4 wisdom teeth. However, while it is common to have 4 wisdom teeth, 35% of the world’s population is born without wisdom teeth.
Some people may have only 1, 2, or 3 wisdom teeth. Having fewer than 4 wisdom teeth is considered normal unless there are other underlying dental issues.
Myth #2: Everyone will need to remove their wisdom teeth
One of the biggest misconceptions about wisdom teeth is that everyone will need to have their wisdom teeth removed.
Though this is a common experience for many, wisdom teeth are only extracted if they are causing issues or will cause issues in the future.
Here’s a brief list of common instances in which wisdom teeth would require extraction:
- Jaw damage
- Inflamed gums
- Damage to other teeth
Some people may never have their wisdom teeth grow in and cause problems. Others have their wisdom teeth grow in without causing any issues. It is also possible to only need some but not all of your wisdom teeth removed.
Myth #3: You will know if you have wisdom teeth
Though many people believe they can tell if they have wisdom teeth, it is only possible to confirm this with x-rays.
Wisdom teeth are hidden under the gums, so it is difficult to confirm if you have wisdom teeth by simply looking in the mirror.
Myth #4: Removing wisdom teeth is painful
Any form of surgery sounds scary, but many places offer different options of anesthesia, including ones that will put you completely to sleep for the duration of your wisdom teeth extraction.
Once the surgery is over, you are actually sent home immediately. Your dentist will likely provide you with pain management medications to help with any discomfort you might experience at home.
Myth #5: You cannot eat after removing wisdom teeth
It is commonly believed that a long term liquid-diet is necessary after wisdom teeth extraction.
Though it is true that you should eat foods that are softer and easy to ingest, you will be capable of eating and even chewing in a short amount of time after extraction.
In fact, many people will recover and return to their normal dietary routine in as little as a week.
Myth #6: The only way to remove wisdom teeth is through surgery
It is actually possible to have a nonsurgical tooth extraction.
If your wisdom teeth have started to erupt through your gums, you might be eligible to get your wisdom teeth removed without surgery.
Nonsurgical tooth extraction still uses anesthesia but instead of major surgery, the tooth will just be pulled out.
Myth #7: All of your wisdom teeth have to come in before they can be removed
You do not need to wait until all of your wisdom teeth start poking through or until you feel pain to seek extraction.
Some people might only need some but not all of their wisdom teeth removed. It is also possible to get multiple procedures instead of only one.
Myth #8: Pain with wisdom teeth is normal
If you feel any pain or pressure in the back of your jaw, it should not be ignored.
Though it is typical to feel some discomfort as your wisdom teeth start to grow in, ignoring any pain will only allow dental issues to worsen.
This pain is unlikely to go away on its own, so it is best to see your dentist so you can determine what to do next.
Myth #9: Wisdom teeth erupt and need to be removed when you turn 18
Most people do not actually finish growing their wisdom teeth until they are in their twenties. It is difficult to predict when wisdom teeth will erupt, and for some people, wisdom teeth will not grow in at all.
Some people will need extraction at an earlier age than others depending on what kind of issues are present.
Myth #10: Wisdom teeth have no purpose
Wisdom teeth function like any other tooth in your mouth. If your wisdom teeth grow in without issues and are not extracted, they would simply aid in chewing and consuming food.
Though there are many myths surrounding wisdom teeth and what you should do with them, always remember that when in doubt, ask your dentist.
They will be able to determine if you have wisdom teeth, if they are causing issues for your other teeth, and if you need to get them removed.
As scary as surgery may sound, the most important thing is to take care of your dental health.