Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars located at the very back of your mouth. They get their name because they come in later than any other adult teeth. In fact, most people get their wisdom teeth in their late teens or early 20s.
Because they erupt through your gums later in life, wisdom teeth can be painful and problematic. They can crowd other teeth, pushing them out of alignment, or they can get impacted and cause jaw pain. But do wisdom teeth always need to be removed?
Miguel A. Casañas Jr., DDS, Publio Silfa, DDS, and our team at Meadowbrook Dental Care are proud to provide top-quality dental care for people of all ages. It’s not always easy to know whether you need wisdom tooth extraction, and there are a lot of myths about getting wisdom teeth pulled, so we’re here to help you sort fact from fiction.
Myth #1: Everyone has wisdom teeth
Because most people have the same number of teeth in front, it’s easy to assume that everyone has four wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are located at the back of your mouth, one on each side of the top and bottom jaw.
Fact: You might not have four wisdom teeth
While having four wisdom teeth is typical, up to 37% of people have fewer than four. It’s possible that you could have three, two, one, or even no wisdom teeth at all. It’s not clear exactly why some people have fewer teeth, but it may be linked to genetics and environment.
If your wisdom teeth haven’t erupted above your gumline, it doesn’t mean you don’t have them. Dr. Casañas and Dr. Silfa may recommend that you get X-rays, because teeth that are impacted, meaning that they’re still buried in your jaw, are visible in X-ray images.
Myth #2: Wisdom teeth always need to be removed
Wisdom teeth extraction is a very common dental procedure. Because it’s so well-known, many people think that if they have wisdom teeth, they need to have them extracted.
Fact: Not all wisdom teeth cause oral health problems
Wisdom teeth come in later than your other adult teeth, but they don’t always cause problems. If your mouth has the space for these extra teeth and they come in straight, your wisdom teeth could be an asset to your oral health.
It’s only when your wisdom teeth are impacted, or when they come in crooked, that you might need to have them removed. Impacted wisdom teeth often cause jaw pain, headaches, and swollen gums. Teeth that come in at an angle may force nearby teeth out of alignment.
Myth #3: Wisdom teeth extraction is always major surgery
Popular culture has built up dental procedures like wisdom teeth extraction and root canal procedures as things to be feared. But is wisdom teeth removal really invasive surgery?
Fact: Some extractions don’t require surgery at all
If your wisdom teeth have erupted through your gums, you could be a candidate for nonsurgical tooth extraction. Our team uses local anesthesia and simply extracts your tooth without the need for surgery.
If your teeth are impacted, it’s true that you might need oral surgery — but it probably isn’t as major as you think. Most wisdom teeth extractions performed under general anesthesia take less than an hour, and you’re able to go home the same day.
Myth #4: Getting your wisdom teeth removed is painful
It’s a common misconception that having teeth pulled is painful, keeping the patient on the couch and eating a liquid-only diet for a long period of time.
Fact: Recovering from wisdom teeth extraction takes just a few days
You can leave the office shortly after your wisdom teeth extraction is complete. Our team gives you instructions for recovery, but in general, you can expect recovery to take 3-5 days.
You should have soft foods and clear liquids on hand, and avoid certain activities for a few days. Many people are surprised to find that they’re back to their normal routine in as little as a week.
If you or your teen still have wisdom teeth, it’s time to educate yourself about your wisdom teeth extraction options.
Schedule a consultation with our team at Meadowbrook Dental Care to find out how you can preserve your oral health. Call 516-231-1742 or book an appointment online now.