Everyone knows someone who has had their wisdom teeth removed. The prospect of growing new teeth and having them pulled is unwelcome at any age, but we seem to balk at it more and more the older we get. New tooth growth is something that we traditionally associate with children; many would be surprised to learn that most people often don’t finish growing their wisdom teeth until they reach adulthood.
This is just one of many common myths that surround wisdom teeth. At Valley Ridge Dental Centre, we’ve seen all too often how these misconceptions scare people from getting the dental care they need.
Here are five of the most common wisdom teeth misconceptions, debunked:
1. Only Teenagers Need Wisdom Teeth Removed
As we mentioned earlier, most people don’t finish growing their wisdom teeth until their twenties – well into adulthood. Now, that’s not to say that some people won’t need theirs removed earlier on. In fact, there are many teens who do need their wisdom teeth removed, especially if they have braces and experience crowding along the jaw.
When it comes to adults, however, they are much more likely to write off the pain and discomfort caused by wisdom teeth – or attribute it to something else entirely, because they believe that it is only an issue for teens.
Ignoring the incoming wisdom teeth is risky. They can cause a lot of issues if left unchecked: cavities, shifted teeth, migraines, and tissue degradation, just to name a few.
2. Pain with a Wisdom Tooth Is Normal and Can Be Ignored
Pain caused by a wisdom tooth can sometimes be hard to identify, especially before it comes through the gums. It is often described as a dull pain or pressure in the back of the jaw and can sometimes be accompanied by headaches. This pain and discomfort are normal – in the sense that many people experience it – but that does not mean that it should be ignored.
Wisdom teeth can often become impacted. Aside from being intensely painful, this can cause your other teeth to be pushed out of alignment. Left untreated, it can result in tooth loss or even the need for braces. It can also cause damage to the jawbone and the surrounding teeth – especially if the tooth comes in at an irregular angle.
If you’re having jaw pain, don’t wait to see your dentist. If the pain is indeed caused by a wisdom tooth, waiting will only allow more time for the issue to worsen – it will not go away on its own.
3. Everyone Will Need All Four Wisdom Teeth Removed
Another common myth is that everyone will eventually need to have all four wisdom teeth removed. This may be the experience of some, but it is by no means universal.
To start, not everyone has wisdom teeth. Others may have them below the gumline, and they just may never grow in or cause problems. Still others may only grow in a few, or they may grow in all four and not have any issues. Likewise, you can have all four wisdom teeth grow in, and only end up needing a few removed.
Bottom line: if the tooth is not causing issues or does not look like it will cause issues in the future, it doesn’t need to be extracted.
Another little-known fact about wisdom teeth: they can cause pain and become impacted even if they don’t come up through the gums; sometimes they can grow in sideways and hit the roots of the neighboring molars or shift things around in the jawbone itself. In cases like this, they would still need to be removed, even if they aren’t visible.
4. All Four Must Come in Before They Can Be Removed
Some people think that you need to wait for all four wisdom teeth to grow in before you can get them removed. As we mentioned earlier, not everyone will grow four wisdom teeth, and not all of them even need to be removed. There are many people who only need to have one or two taken out, or who have their teeth removed in multiple procedures.
You don’t need to wait until you’re having pain in all four corners of your mouth to see a dentist – one is more than enough. It is very common to have one or two wisdom teeth removed in one procedure, and then have the other ones removed later if they become an issue.
With that said, your dentist may suggest having all of them removed at once if, based on the x-rays, it looks like you will eventually need it.
5. The Surgery Is Painful and You’re Awake the Whole Time
A lot of people experience anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist, and even more so if a surgical procedure is involved. This is why many people put off having their wisdom teeth extracted as long as possible. In reality, they’re just increasing the amount of dental work they will need.
The wisdom tooth extraction itself doesn’t have to be scary. A lot of places offer you options about what anesthesia they use, be it laughing gas (in which case, you would be awake but feel no pain) or one that would put you completely to sleep.
In either case, the dentist will ensure that you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure. After the procedure, they will likely prescribe pain management medications for use during recovery.
Schedule an Appointment for Your Wisdom Teeth Today
If you’re experiencing pain and soreness in your jaw and in the back of your gums, don’t wait. It could well be caused by wisdom teeth, even if you don’t see them coming through your gums. Get in touch with us at Valley Ridge Dental Centre today to schedule an appointment for wisdom teeth removal. We’ll get those pesky wisdom teeth out and set you on the path to good oral health.