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. Thats 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. Thats 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, youll find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about wisdom teeth and rest assured, losing your wisdom teeth wont affect your intelligence!

Is everyone is born with wisdom teeth?
Its estimated that 35 percent of the human populationis born without wisdom teeth altogether. You wont 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 arent needed. If your wisdom teeth are healthy and properly aligned, theres 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 arent treated, they can hollow out your jaw and damage nerves.
  • Sinusissues:Problems with wisdom teeth can lead tosinuspain, pressure, and congestion.
  • Inflamed gums:Tissue around the wisdom teeth can swell and become harder to clean.
  • Cavities:Swollen gumscan 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 cant physically see or feel your wisdom teeth, doesnt mean you dont 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, its important to avoid crunchy, spicy, or hard-to-chew foods. Indulging in these foods before youre 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.