85% of people need to get their wisdom teeth extracted at some point in their lifetime. In the past decade, the wisdom on wisdom teeth has advanced. Though some things have stayed the same, a lot has changed. Here’s what you need to know:
• They’re named for their smarts.
Wisdom teeth joined the party around the same time you did — the college years. Typically appearing between the ages of 17 and 25, wisdom teeth get their name because they emerge when you’re older and “wiser.”
• Not all wisdom teeth need to be extracted.
Three isn’t necessarily a crowd. Not all third molars warrant extraction, according to American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons’ (AAOMS) new position on wisdom teeth. They can, however, cause harm in the future. Healthy wisdom teeth can be easily cleaned and don’t crowd the jaw. The tricky part is determining if those wisdom teeth are likely to cause crowding or infection in the future. Patients’ teeth must be thoroughly evaluated in order for doctors to make the most beneficial decision.
• Wisdom teeth may not exist in the future.
Human teeth have a mathematical formula. And this equation gradually changes as humans evolve. Over time, humanity will eventually give wisdom teeth the boot, according to a 2016 study in Nature.
• 18 isn’t the standard anymore.
Thanks to AAOMS’ new position and the Affordable Care Act, there isn’t the rush to get them out when you’re 18 anymore. Though it’s safe to err on the younger range (18-24), every set of wisdom teeth should be removed on a case-by-case basis. And stage trumps age. Ideally, the teeth should be extracted when they’re at two-thirds root development. Your dentist can weigh the pros and cons in order to make the best decision for you.
What’s your wisdom teeth experience? Share your wisdom below.