Wisdom tooth removal is an incredibly common dental procedure, averaging about 10 million per year. While this procedure is not always necessary, it is possible for wisdom teeth to lead to dental problems and symptoms down the line. For this reason, many doctors recommend removing these extra teeth.
If you’re considering having a wisdom tooth removal, you might be wondering: can wisdom teeth grow back? After all, a tooth extraction is not something we want to repeat.
Read on to find out if wisdom teeth can grow back, whether you should remove yours, and what the tooth extraction process looks like with wisdom teeth.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Before we get to discussing what wisdom teeth are, let’s quickly go over the different types of teeth we have.
While we may not think about our teeth until they start giving us problems, they’re important in our daily lives. Teeth perform a vital role in helping us chew food, enabling us to pronounce words, and giving our face its shape.
Adults have roughly 32 teeth, of which there are three types:
- Incisors: These make up the majority of our smile. There are four incisors in the top and four in the bottom of the center of our mouths. These teeth are thin and flat, which makes them ideal for biting down on our food. In addition, they’re often the first teeth that people see, which makes them the center of our focus when it comes to our appearance.
- Canines: These are the pointed teeth we all have that we commonly associate with vampires. There are two incisors at the top and two at the bottom of the jaw. The canines allow us to literally rip apart our food, which makes it easy to eat treats such as a freshly-baked loaf of bread.
- Molars: Molars are large teeth with a flat surface that are located in the back of our mouth. They are the teeth we most use for chewing. There are three different types of molars grouped according to where they’re located. We have our third molars in the back of our mouth, more commonly known as wisdom teeth.
Essentially, wisdom teeth are molars in the back of the mouth. They begin to form in the jawbone between the ages of seven and ten. The wisdom teeth roots develop by the late teens, and the crown may begin to show. By the late twenties, our wisdom teeth are usually fully formed and may have reached some level of eruption.
For the most part, people have four wisdom teeth. However, some people have fewer, while others have none at all. No matter the number of wisdom teeth you have, there’s nothing to worry about. Having few wisdom teeth is not determined by poor oral health but by genetics. So if your parents don’t have wisdom teeth, it’s very likely that you won’t, either.
What Purpose Do Wisdom Teeth Serve?
It’s a well-known fact that wisdom teeth can crowd your nearby teeth, leading to many dental problems like jaw pain, headache, and gum diseases.
Our ancestors had larger jaws than we do today, which is why the extra set of teeth was an advantage and not a nuisance. The human jaw evolved due to changes in diet. In hunter-gatherer societies, food was typically tougher and required more force when chewing, making the jawline large.
However, with the advent of agriculture, diets shifted to more processed foods, which are easier to chew. As a result, humans developed smaller jawlines. This is typically why extra wisdom teeth lead to overcrowding: we simply don’t have enough space for them!
Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?
These days, oral surgery to remove wisdom teeth is incredibly common. However, you might be wondering if it’s truly necessary. The answer is: It depends!
When a wisdom tooth emerges during your 20s, it will do so from under the surface of the gum. Usually, it will get right in line behind your other two molars. If that’s the case, you’re unlikely to experience problems as long as you see your dentist for regular check-ups to make sure that no issues emerge.
However, many people have jaws that are too small to accommodate their new wisdom teeth and, therefore, won’t have enough room for them. In such cases, wisdom teeth can emerge at an angle and press up on your other molars. Sometimes, they may get stuck or not emerge at all. This type of wisdom tooth is referred to as an impacted wisdom tooth.
Impacted wisdom teeth are much more likely to lead to tooth decay, swelling, and cysts as they can rub up against the enamel of your other molars. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth may be difficult to clean, increasing their chances of developing cavities or gum infections from bacteria.
For this reason, some dentists recommend removing impacted teeth even before they start leading to problems. It’s important to know that you may not be aware that you even have impacted teeth unless you see them on a dental X-ray, making routine dental visits so important.
Since there is no consensus on removing impacted wisdom teeth, it’s up to you and your dentist whether you want to remove them—even if they’re not causing you any complications.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
If you’re ever had a tooth extraction, then the process for wisdom tooth extraction is quite similar. Your dentist or oral surgeon can do this procedure. Insurance may not always cover this procedure, which is why it’s important to shop for the right prices for this procedure. Otherwise, it can add up pretty quickly.
Once you’ve chosen a doctor for the procedure, it can be performed quickly. Before the procedure, you’ll be given an injection to numb the tooth and surrounding tissue. This is the most unpleasant part of the procedure, as your gum tissue is very sensitive. If you feel especially uncomfortable about this idea, then your doctor might be able to give you a sedative to help you relax.
Following the injection, your doctor will begin the extraction. If your wisdom tooth hasn’t emerged from the gum, then your doctor will have to make a small incision in the gum to get access to it. However, in most cases, that won’t be necessary.
Your doctor will begin the procedure by widening the tooth socket that the wisdom tooth is rooted in, making the extraction easier. Then, they will begin rocking the tooth back and forth to loosen it. Finally, they will remove the entire tooth. Because the tooth and its surrounding area will be completely numb, you’re very unlikely to feel any pain during the extraction.
The entire procedure shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes from start to finish. Afterward, you will be given painkillers and sent home to recover. The first two days, you might experience soreness and bleeding. But the extraction site will quickly heal after that, and once ten days have passed, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort at all.
Can Wisdom Teeth Grow Back After Being Removed?
The idea of going through a tooth extraction just to have the tooth grow back in is pretty distressing. However, that’s not something you need to worry about. The idea that wisdom teeth can grow back is a common misconception not based in reality.
Of course, some individuals may remove a wisdom tooth at a young age before their remaining wisdom teeth emerge. This can give the illusion that the extracted wisdom tooth grew back. However, once your wisdom tooth is removed, it’s gone forever!
Wisdom teeth served as an advantage for our ancestors. Today, however, they are highly unnecessary. In addition, wisdom teeth that emerge incorrectly can lead to many dental problems. For this reason, it may be a good idea to remove them.
However, once you go through the extraction process, you’ll never have to worry about your removed wisdom tooth again. While you may have more than one wisdom tooth, it can’t grow back after removal. For this reason, you can book your wisdom tooth removal procedure without having to worry about repeating it in the future.