While getting a wisdom tooth removed is considered a rite of passage by some, others deem it a nerve-racking event. While unfortunate to note, the latter reaction is often attributed to many myths surrounding wisdom tooth and wisdom tooth extraction.
Case in point: many people believe all wisdom teeth need to be extracted once they come out. If truth be told, that’s not always the case. If you want to know the truths behind the most prevalent wisdom tooth and wisdom tooth extraction myths, read on.
Myth#1 Everyone will have four wisdom teeth
This one is definitely not true. While wisdom teeth often shows up in sets of four for many people, it does not mean everyone will have the same experience. The truth is some people sometimes will get one, some two or three. A very lucky few on the other hand won’t have any wisdom teeth at all.
Myth#2 Wisdom teeth will always require extraction
This is inaccurate. Some individuals might need to have their wisdom teeth extracted due to the pressure they are causing on other teeth or on the jaw. Wisdom tooth extraction can also be recommended if they have started to decay. However, if the wisdom tooth came out straight and does not pose any problem, extraction is not necessary.
Myth#3 You’ll always know when you have wisdom teeth
Not true. There will be instances where you can’t feel or see your wisdom teeth but it does not always mean they are not there. In some cases, the wisdom teeth can get enclosed within the jawbone or the soft tissue. That being said, an X-ray needs to be done to reveal any hidden teeth as well as any likely growth problems.
Myth#4 Pain—free impacted wisdom tooth does not need to be extracted
Even if impacted wisdom tooth is painless, it does not always follow that it’s disease or problem-free. Complications like cyst formation, infection, and damage to the neighbouring teeth can occur when the wisdom tooth is impacted. If a cyst develops, it might also lead to jaw hallowing or damage to nearby nerves.
Myth#5 Dry sockets can occur each time a wisdom tooth is extracted
While the possibility of a dry socket occurring during wisdom tooth extraction will always be there, it happens to a very minimal percentage of patients. However, certain factors are believed to increase one’s risks of a dry socket occurring after wisdom tooth extraction. Some of these factors include:
- Patient has poor oral health
- Patient smokes tobacco or cigarettes
- Patient has had dry socket before
- Patient did not observe proper mouth care after extraction
- Patient has an underlying health condition like diabetes
Myth#6 Early removal of wisdom tooth is not ideal
A study published in the Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery indicated that wisdom tooth removal can become increasingly difficult as one ages. In addition, recovery period can also last longer.
Removal of wisdom tooth is a lot easier in young patients as the roots are not completely implanted yet, the surrounding bone is softer, and there is lesser risk of damage to nearby nerves and structures. Removal of wisdom teeth in older patients can be more complicated as the roots are already fully formed and the jawbone is denser.