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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
10 million wisdom teeth are removed each year. That might be way too many | Vox
Congenitally Missing Teeth (Hypodontia): A Review of the Literature Concerning the Etiology, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Patterns, and Treatment | NCBI
Global Human Mandibular Variation Reflects Differences in Agricultural and Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence Strategies | PNAS