Wisdom teeth (or third molars) get their nickname by the age in which the teeth normally erupt (usually around 17-25 years old). This time in a young adult’s life is sometimes referred to as the “age of wisdom,” which is debatable for some people.
Myth: Everybody is born with wisdom teeth. Fact: 35% of the population is born without wisdom teeth.
Myth: You can tell if you have wisdom teeth. Fact: Not being able to see your wisdom teeth does not mean they’re not there. That’s because wisdom teeth can be enclosed within the soft tissue or the jawbone. Therefore, an x-ray must be taken by your dentist to reveal any hidden teeth, as well as any potential problems with their growth.
Myth: Wisdom teeth must always be removed. Fact: Wisdom teeth don’t always cause trouble when they do show up. In fact, there may not even be a need for extraction if they are healthy and properly aligned. However, most (85%) will eventually need to be removed due to impaction, risk to neighboring healthy teeth, or hygienic difficulties which can lead to cavities or infection.
Myth: Wisdom teeth are worthless. Fact: In 2008, Japanese researchers found that wisdom teeth contain stem cells. In the future, these pluripotent stem cells may be harvested and saved for use treating diseases later in life.
Myth: You cannot eat after wisdom teeth extractions. Fact: Thankfully, this one is not true! In fact, ice cream and other frozen treats are soft and easy to ingest and the fact they’re cold helps soothe the pain and the swelling. However, it’s important not to use a straw because suction can disturb the extraction sites.
Wisdom teeth removal is a decision that should be made with your dental team (family dentist, orthodontist and oral surgeon). If you are able to keep your wisdom teeth, it is important to brush and floss your teeth daily and have them professionally examined and cleaned regularly to ensure tooth and gum health.