Did you know that your mouth and teeth change throughout your lifetime? As an adult, one major dental milestone is the development of wisdom teeth. These teeth, third molars, typically start developing between the ages of 17 and 25.
Many of our dental patients assume that all wisdom teeth need to be removed with surgery, but this is not true. Wisdom teeth don't always need to be removed in dentistry, and they don't always cause dental problems. There are many myths about wisdom teeth extractions, the reasons for removing them and the dental surgery process.
Chances are, you've heard many of these myths from friends, family or pop culture. But unless you're getting your information directly from your Langley dentist, it's difficult to know whether it's a fact or fiction.
The 14 Top Myths About Wisdom Tooth Extraction in Langley
We at Blue Water Dental are going to debunk some of the most popular myths about wisdom teeth surgery and give you the facts.
Myth 1: Everyone Gets Wisdom Teeth in a normal Dental Eruption Pattern
False: Not everyone develops their third molars.
Some people may only have one or two of these teeth. Others have none, and yet others have a set of wisdom teeth under their gums that never emerge. About 35% of people don't have extra teeth. Are you among them? If you're over the age of 17, we can do an X-ray to find out.
Myth 2: You Will Know if You Need to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed
False: You may not know that you have third molars.
Quite often in dentistry patient's can't see their third molars. Sometimes, the soft tissue and jawbone can encase the teeth and hide them from sight. A dental X-ray will let us know whether you have wisdom teeth hiding under your gums. If you have wisdom teeth, the X-ray will also help us see whether they're causing any problems that require a surgery intervention and removal.
Myth 3: Wisdom Teeth Removal is Pointless
Kind Of: While we may not need our third molar teeth today, our ancestors did.
In dentistry, wisdom teeth, like any other teeth, make it easier to chew your food. At one time, humans likely needed this third set of molars to eat coarser foods, like meat and roots, which took more work to break down. Today, we use utensils to cut our food and generally eat softer foods that are much easier to chew. So, technically, third molar teeth are pointless in modern society and dentistry. But it wasn't always that way.
Myth 4: Dental Extractions - Wisdom Teeth Should Always be Removed
False: Not necessarily. We tell our Langley patients that wisdom teeth don't always have to be removed with surgery.
It's a common misconception that third molar teeth must be removed to prevent dental overcrowding or impaction. However, this is not always the case. Some people have issues with crowding or pain from their third molars, but others never experience any problems with their teeth and don't need removal.
More than 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted with surgery each year in dentistry, and more than half are unnecessary. Only 12% of dental impacted teeth are associated with pathological conditions. Genetics and your oral hygiene routine can both play a role in the development of your wisdom teeth.
For example, if your ancestors consumed a diet of tough foods that put more wear and tear on their teeth, then their jaws may have evolved to create room for third molar teeth. The bottom line? If your third molar teeth are healthy and properly aligned, there is no reason to have wisdom teeth extractions.
Of course, there are times in dentistry when we recommend extracting your third molars. Extraction surgery may be necessary if there is:
In dentistry if there isn't enough space in your jaw for your third molar teeth, they can become impacted either mesially, distally or vertically and they will need to be removed through oral surgery. As your wisdom teeth begin to develop and erupt, we will monitor your mouth and look for signs of impaction, dental crowding or other dentistry issues. These surgery signs can include:
Third molar teeth are erupting, but there isn't enough room for them. In this case, the teeth may damage surrounding teeth, or overcrowding can become a problem requiring orthodontic treatment or other advanced dentistry.
The third molars aren't coming in correctly and make it difficult to floss in between the teeth in that area.
The wisdom teeth aren't properly aligned, making it difficult or impossible to remove food particles. Eventually, the food particles that cannot be removed may lead to bacteria growth and cavities.
Third molar teeth are only coming in partially, which gives bacteria an entryway into your gums and increases the risk of dental infection and surgery.
The third molars have become impacted, and a cyst has formed near or on the affected teeth. When this happens, it can eventually destroy the bone supporting the teeth and damaging the roots of neighbouring teeth.
If our Langley dental office sees any of the above signs or any other indication that your wisdom teeth are causing problems, we may recommend extracting them. We will review your options and discuss your dentistry options for extraction surgery. We will then balance this with some of our other services.
Myth 5: Wisdom Tooth Extraction is Dangerous
False: Extracting a wisdom tooth is no more dangerous than any other dental surgery procedure.
Removing third molar teeth does require oral surgery, and there are risks with any surgery in dentistry. However, wisdom tooth extraction is a very common and mostly safe procedure. In most cases, our Langley patients do not experience any complications after they have their wisdom teeth removed. However, we will discuss the dentistry risks and your options when you come into our office including sedation.
Myth 6: Wisdom Teeth Don't Need to be Removed if They Aren't Painful
Fact: If wisdom teeth are impacted, you will likely need wisdom teeth extractions even if they aren't painful.
Just because you don't feel pain like a dental emergency it doesn't necessarily mean that there aren't issues or disease with your third molar teeth. In some cases, third molars can damage surrounding teeth, form cysts or even lead to infection.
When dental cysts form, they can cause nerve and jawbone damage. Sometimes wisdom teeth can be in the way of another cosmetic or essential surgery we are planning like dental implants.
Myth 7: If I Have Wisdom Teeth Removed I Will Get Dry Socket
Fact: Dental dry socket is always a risk when a tooth is extracted, but most wisdom tooth removals at our Langley location are free of complications after surgery. In dentistry, only 2-5%of people develop dry sockets when having their wisdom teeth removed.
However, some factors can increase the risk of dry socket when having your third molar teeth removed, such as:
Poor oral health
Smoking or using tobacco products
Complicated tooth dental extraction
A history of dry socket
Drinking from a straw after the tooth removal
Underlying oral health conditions, like diabetes
Not properly caring for your mouth after an extraction with us
While dry sockets are always possible, most of our patients get through the extraction and healing process without significant post surgery complications.
Myth 8: Waiting to Remove Your Wisdom Teeth May Be Better
Reality: Not necessarily. As you get older, it becomes increasingly more difficult to perform wisdom teeth extractions.
Oral surgery becomes more complicated and is riskier dentistry. The recovery period may be longer, too. It's generally easier to remove wisdom teeth when you're younger because the roots aren't entirely implanted, the nearby bone is softer, and the risk of nerve or structure damage during surgery is much lower. However, if you wait until you're older to remove your wisdom teeth, the dental surgery will be more complicated because the jawbone is much denser, your nerves may be impacted, and the roots are fully formed. Often in these cases we would refer you to a maxillofacial surgeon.
Myth 9: Wisdom Teeth Must be Removed Before You Get Orthodontic Treatment or Braces
Fact: Not always. We may recommend wisdom tooth extractions before orthodontic work because your third molars can cause your teeth to shift and move as they come through. But it's still possible in dentistry to get braces even without wisdom teeth surgery.
Myth 10: Removing Your Wisdom Teeth Doesn't Affect Your Other Teeth
Fact: It can. Research has shown that the health of adjacent teeth remains stable or improves 90% of the time. However, there is still a 10% chance that your surrounding teeth will be impacted by removing your third molar teeth with surgery.
Myth 11: You Can't Brush for a Week After Having a Wisdom Tooth Extracted
Fact: You can resume your regular dental routine 24-48 hours after the procedure at our Langley dental clinic.
During the first 24 hours, we ask that you don't brush, use mouthwash, spit or rinse your mouth. That being said, it's still important to be gentle when brushing around the wisdom teeth removal area. We recommend rinsing gently with a saltwater solution after every meal for about a week after the procedure.
Myth 12: You Won't Be Able to Eat for at Least Two Days after the Extraction
Fact: Yes, you absolutely can eat after wisdom teeth removal. We ask that you avoid eating hard foods for the first few days after the surgery, but soft foods are fine. After a day or two, you may be able to eat semi-soft foods.
Myth 13: It's Okay to Drink and Smoke After a Tooth Extraction
Fact: No, past dentistry experience has show us it's not okay to drink or smoke after wisdom teeth removal.
We ask all of our Langley patients to avoid smoking and drinking after tooth removal, and this is not just an extra precaution. Both of these activities can cause pain.
Once a tooth is extracted, a clot forms where the tooth was removed. It is crucial for this clot to stay in place. If it becomes dislodged, it can cause a dry socket, which is very painful. Smoking and drinking can both significantly increase the risk of dry socket.
In general, smoking is bad for your health, and that includes your oral health. Not only can smoking cause bad breath, but it can also:
Stain your teeth
Dampen your sense of taste and smell
Affect the look of your smile
Cause gum disease and tooth decay
Increase your risk of oral cancer
Delay the healing process after a tooth extraction surgery
Ideally, and for the sake of your health, it would be best to quit smoking entirely. But if you must smoke, make sure that you wait at least 72 hours after the extraction. Chewing tobacco should be avoided for at least a week after the procedure, as the tobacco can delay the healing and increase the risk of complications.
Myth 14: You Shouldn't Have Ice Cream or Milkshakes After Removing Your Wisdom Teeth
Fact: Both ice cream and milkshakes are fine to eat after wisdom teeth dentistry. Not only are these foods soft (and delicious), but they're also cold. The cooling sensation can help ease pain, discomfort and swelling after the wisdom removal. If you do decide to drink a milkshake, don't use a straw. We ask that our patients avoid using straws after a tooth extraction, as the suction can dislodge the clot at the extraction site. Other soft foods, such as cottage cheese or yogurt, are also fine to eat and may be healthier options. Both foods are rich in protein and nutrients that can help with the healing process.
There is Lots of Information to Consider Regarding Wisdom Teeth Treatment
Now that we've debunked several wisdom teeth myths, it's essential to understand in dentistry that there are many ways to handle your third molars and extractions. You don't necessarily need to have them removed, although we may suggest that extraction surgery is the best option. Along with complete or partial removal, other dentistry options can include:
If you decide that you don't want to remove your wisdom teeth and would rather keep them, we will discuss your options and review the risks of future disease or dental issues. In some cases, we may not recommend dental extraction surgery, especially if your wisdom teeth are:
Embedded within the healthy gum tissue
Of course, your wisdom teeth will still need to be cleaned (at home and professionally at our Langley clinic), and you'll need to come in for routine exams to monitor the health of your wisdom teeth.
Your third molars are just like any other teeth. They must be cared for properly to prevent surgery complications. If you find that surgery is the right choice for you, there's no need to worry. Removing your wisdom teeth is just like removing any other tooth. Many of the myths surrounding wisdom teeth in dentistry are just that – myths.
If you have any questions or concerns about your third molars, our helpful staff are happy to clarify things and discuss your needs. Call us today to book your initial consultation!