Wisdom teeth: Myths and Realities

Your mouth will go through several changes throughout your lifetime. Although individuals will experience vital dental milestones from 17 and 21 years of age where there is a growth of their wisdom teeth or third molars.

Over time you might’ve come across several assumptions and myths related to wisdom teeth such as you need to have them removed, or they’ll cause you issues. When in fact not everybody ends up having to remove their wisdom teeth. There is a lot of myths surrounding wisdom teeth and its ‘painful’ extraction procedures and more.

Chances are, a lot of your information about your third molars come from your family and friends, or just plain hearsay. The information being tossed around by different people could be myths or facts, but it’s hard to tell — unless you’re getting your information from a reputable source, like your dentist or oral surgeon.

Following are the Myths and Realities of Wisdom teeth:

Myth 1: You have to get your wisdom teeth extracted

In Reality: Not all people get their wisdom teeth. Some individuals have wisdom teeth underneath their gums that never erupt. Others may have one or two erupt, and some don’t have any at all. All these scenarios are acceptable unless you begin experiencing problems with these teeth.

As per research, 35 percent of the population have no wisdom teeth, these people were born without them. You can’t know for sure if you have them or not until your dentist takes some x-rays of your teeth when you’re between the ages of 17 and 25.

Myth 2: You’ll Know If You Have Wisdom Teeth

In Reality: This is not always the case. Just because you can’t see your third molars doesn’t mean you don’t have them. The reason behind this is because your jawbone or soft tissue could enclose your wisdom teeth.

Any hidden teeth can only be revealed after the dentist takes an x-ray. The x-ray will also show if you’re having any potential issues with the growth of these teeth as well.

Myth 3: Wisdom Teeth Extraction Is Compulsion

In Reality: This is also false – wisdom teeth don’t always need to come out. It is commonly believed that if wisdom teeth aren’t taken out it’ll cause crowding or become more impacted and painful. Also, that they need braces or orthodontic treatment.

It is not true in all cases. Although wisdom teeth could be contributing to crowding and lead to discomfort and pain, some individuals never have problems with their third molars. They have healthy teeth that come in properly positioned.

A study showed there are 10 million wisdom teeth extractions every year from five million individuals. Out of these extractions, 60 percent aren’t even needed. If your third molars come in properly aligned and healthy, there’s no reason you should have them removed.

However, there are times when extraction might be necessary. These instances include:

Jaw damage

Damage to other teeth

Inflamed gums

Sinus problems


Diet and Dental work can be vital to the contribution to impacted wisdom teeth. Historically, people who consumed a tough diet had more wear on their teeth, which caused their teeth to drift and room for their wisdom teeth.

These days, our diets are much better for our teeth. There’s also better dental care available, including braces and retainers, providing you with healthier and straighter teeth, but not a whole lot of room for wisdom teeth. Hence, wisdom teeth don’t emerge until the dental arch grows bigger, that is if there’s room. Your wisdom teeth can cause problems if there isn’t enough space for them to emerge or if they erupt improperly positioned. If your teeth are trapped under your gums or jaw, they are impacted and require oral surgery.

Myth 4: There Is No Need For Wisdom Teeth

In Realty: They perform the same function like your other teeth- making chewing easier. Anthropologists believe that humans historically needed wisdom teeth to consume rough and coarse food like tough roots, meat, and leaves that required more chewing effort.

Today’s diets, however, consist of softer foods and utensils to cut our food, making it easier to chew and eat food without the use of wisdom teeth. Evolutionary biologists say wisdom teeth have become functionless.

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