How wise are our wisdom teeth if all they do is push other teeth out of their way? Do they have any other purpose? Are they destined to be pulled out?
Join us while we bust popular myths and confirm proven facts on the topic! Let’s start, shall we?
#1: All wisdom teeth must be removed: MYTH
It is a common misconception that wisdom teeth, also called third molars, must be extracted in any case. However, the majority of our DentaVox respondents (58%) disagree. And rightly so. There are cases when the extraction is not needed and your dentist is there to evaluate your personal situation. Here are some basic guidelines for orientation:
#2: Not all people have wisdom teeth: FACT
42% of survey participants have not had their wisdom teeth erupted yet. In the age group 18-24, this percentage is 52% and it gradually reduces with age. In the age group 55-64, there are 35% whose third molars have not appeared on the horizon (and likely never will). Interestingly, this percentage matches perfectly with the scientific estimate of people who are born without wisdom teeth roots. Keep in mind that you could have the underneath your gums and only X-rays can confirm or deny their existence.
#3: Wisdom teeth always come in crooked: MYTH
Although the majority think differently, more than one-third of DentaVox survey respondents agree with this statement.
Professionals estimate that in around 80% of the cases they do actually come in a wrong position – either crooked towards the front or the back of your mouth, horizontally, or just failing to break through the gums. Therefore, it might not be always but wisdom teeth are very likely to appear incorrectly.
#4: Wisdom teeth don’t have any purpose: MYTH
36% of DentaVox survey participants believe that third molars are completely purposeless.
In fact, wisdom teeth have the same purpose as all other teeth – to make chewing easier. Moreover, anthropologists claim that these are the teeth our ancestors evolved to be able to eat leaves, roots, nuts, and meats.
#5: Wisdom teeth always erupt at the age of 18-25: MYTH
The majority of respondents think that people always have their wisdom teeth erupted when they are between 18 and 25 years old.
What does science think? While it is proven that this is the age when third molars most typically appear, this is not a rule. And the survey results above undoubtedly confirm this.
#6: If you have wisdom teeth, you’ll see them: MYTH
The largest share of DentaVox survey participants (66%) believes that wisdom teeth are visible to the naked eye. However, this is not always the case as your gums might enclose them, making them findable only via X-rays.
#7: Wisdom teeth must be removed before orthodontic treatment: SO-SO
More respondents (42%) think that wearing braces requires removing wisdom teeth in advance. The common misconception is that this is absolutely needed to make enough space for the other teeth to align perfectly.
The reality: Although possible in specific cases, extractions are not always required before orthodontic treatment. Wisdom teeth should not be removed solely for the purpose of preventing movement of other teeth. Moreover, research has shown that the pressure wisdom teeth are causing is not so strong and the crooking of teeth is much more likely to happen due to the typical wear and tear that comes with aging.
#8: Wisdom tooth discomfort is normal and nothing to worry about: MYTH
The larger part of survey respondents (48%) do believe that feeling discomfort in wisdom teeth is normal and nothing to worry about.
Beware, though. The commonness of this issue doesn’t make it normal. Pain and discomfort may indicate that your teeth are impacted, lacking space, or pressing on delicate nerves on other teeth. The recommended reaction, in this case, is to see a dentist.
#9: Ice cream might help relieve post-extraction swelling and pain: FACT
Hey, ice cream lovers! This one’s for you. Soft and cold foods generally help reduce the pain and swelling post the extraction and, thankfully, ice cream covers both criteria perfectly. DentaVox respondents seem to be aware of this fact as 66% of them agree with this statement. What are other ways to relieve post-extraction pain? See below.
#10: Drinking and smoking after wisdom tooth extraction can be harmful: FACT
Three-thirds of survey participants recognize the danger of smoking or drinking alcohol after extraction. Another 15%, though, don’t see anything wrong in indulging in these habits.
To the second group, we need to say: Listen to your dentist’s recommendations to avoid pain and allow your wound to heal properly. After extraction, clotting forms in the removed tooth area and these clots must stay intact. Drinking and smoking increase the risk of clots becoming dislodged. This can then lead to a dry socket – an extremely painful infection you would certainly prefer to avoid.
Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?
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Stats source: DentaVox, 20 Questions: Wisdom Teeth
Base: 926 respondents (global sample)
Period: 01/07 – 18/08/2020