For decades, having wisdom teeth removed was a rite of passage – often, an oral surgery that many high school graduates squeezed in before leaving for college. That’s because it can be best to part with those mostly useless, ill-fitting teeth before they caused infections or other trouble. Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, often are misaligned and impacted – fully or partly stuck below the gum line. That’s because they emerge later, typically between ages 17 and 25, after the jaw has stopped growing and other teeth have already filled the mouth. Here, you’ll find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about wisdom teeth – and rest assured, losing your wisdom teeth won’t affect your intelligence!

Is everyone is born with wisdom teeth?
It’s estimated that 35 percent of the human population is born without wisdom teeth altogether. You won’t know for sure whether or not you have wisdom teeth until your dentist spots them on your x-rays as a teen or young adult.

Do wisdom teeth always have to be removed?
Wisdom teeth actually do not always require extraction. According to one study, 10 million wisdom teeth are removed each year from 5 million people. Data shows more than 60 percent of these removals aren’t needed. If your wisdom teeth are healthy and properly aligned, there’s probably no need for wisdom teeth extraction. Below are the common instances in which wisdom teeth removal is necessary:

  • Damage to other teeth: That extra set of molars can push your other teeth around, causing mouth pain and bite problems.
  • Jaw damage: Cysts can form around the new teeth. If they aren’t treated, they can hollow out your jaw and damage nerves.
  • Sinus issues: Problems with wisdom teeth can lead to sinus pain, pressure, and congestion.
  • Inflamed gums: Tissue around the wisdom teeth can swell and become harder to clean.
  • Cavities: Swollen gums can create pockets between teeth that help bacteria grow and cavities form.
  • Alignment: Impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems with crowding of other teeth, sometimes prompting orthodontic intervention.

Do wisdom teeth have to be removed before orthodontic treatment?
This varies from case to case. While there is some concern that wisdom teeth may cause your other teeth to shift, thus hindering the effects of braces, recent studies have shown that this is only rarely the case.

If you have wisdom teeth, do you always know you have them?
Just because you can’t physically see or feel your wisdom teeth, doesn’t mean you don’t have them. Wisdom teeth can be enclosed within the soft tissue or your jawbone. Therefore, an x-ray from your dentist is required to reveal any hidden teeth, as well as any potential problems with their growth.

What foods are recommended after wisdom teeth extraction?
Ice cream is both sweet and soothing following oral surgery. Soft foods like mashed potatoes and applesauce are also good choices. After getting your wisdom teeth removed, it’s important to avoid crunchy, spicy, or hard-to-chew foods. Indulging in these foods before you’re ready can lead to severe pain, and even hinder healing. As for beverages, be sure to stay away from straws for three days after oral surgery. Sucking on a straw can dislodge the clots in your sockets.

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist – 716-332-2444.