Widsom Teeth: Separating Fact from Fiction

Wisdom Teeth

If you bring up the subject of wisdom teeth with your family or friends, you will likely hear any number of horror stories about their experience with a wisdom tooth extraction or even that of a friend of a friend. In most cases, these stories are greatly exaggerated out of a sense of fear about the process. These overblown stories are often told with such gusto that patients who need their wisdom teeth removed frequently put off the procedure until the situation becomes more complicated and problematic. The following addresses common misconceptions about wisdom teeth and wisdom tooth removal.

Myth: All wisdom teeth need to be removed.

As long as the tooth is properly aligned and healthy, it does not necessarily have to be removed. Wisdom teeth do need to be removed if they only partially break through the gum or if they are emerging at an abnormal angle. These issues can cause pain and threaten the health of the surrounding teeth. A dental X-ray can reveal if you have wisdom teeth hidden in the soft tissue of your gums or buried deep within the jaw bone. Approximately 85 percent of people with wisdom eventually have them removed.

Myth: Everyone has wisdom teeth.

Whether you have wisdom teeth or not is a matter of genetics. Approximately two-thirds of the population has wisdom teeth while the remaining one-third does not.

Myth: Wisdom teeth arrive along with the rest of the adult teeth.

In most cases, wisdom teeth erupt between a person’s late teens and mid-twenties.

Myth: Removing wisdom teeth is painful.

Removing wisdom teeth is typically no more uncomfortable than any other dental procedure. Dentists offer everything from mild sedation to twilight sedation to help patients remain calm and relaxed. Local anesthetics are used to numb the area during the procedure. For most patients, any swelling or discomfort after the extraction can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers and will typically resolve within a day or two. Patients with more complicated extractions involving nerve interference or unerupted teeth may be given prescription pain medication.

Myth: It is best to drink from a straw while recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction.

You should not use straws until you have completely healed from the extraction. The pressure created by drinking through a straw can dislodge the blood clot at the site of the extraction, which can lead to a painful condition known as dry socket.

Myth: It is okay to smoke within a couple of hours of a wisdom tooth extraction.

Having a wisdom tooth removed is a good time to try to quit smoking altogether. Although the first 72 hours are the most critical, it is best to avoid smoking for at least five days to reduce your risk of dislodging the clot and developing dry socket. Smoking also reduces blood flow to the extraction site, which can compromise healing.

Myth: Wisdom teeth should be removed at an early age.

Age is not the sole determining factor on when wisdom teeth should be removed. A dentist can help you determine if and when you should have a wisdom tooth extracted based on your symptoms and the potential for complications.

Myth: Wisdom tooth extraction is expensive.

We will let you know the exact cost of your wisdom tooth extraction during your initial consultation. We accept most major dental insurance plans as well as MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. If the out-of-pocket cost is problematic, we may be able to set up payment arrangements.

At Hinsdale Dental, we offer a full range of preventative, emergency, restorative, and cosmetic dental services to ensure that you and your family enjoy a lifetime of good oral health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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