85% of people 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 a few things you should know:
1. They’re named for their smarts.
Wisdom teeth, typically appearing between the ages of 17 and 25, get their name because they emerge when you’re older and “wiser.”
2. Not all wisdom teeth need to be extracted.
Not all third molars warrant extraction, according to American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons’ (AAOMS) new position on wisdom teeth. If they are not monitored regularly, they could cause harm in the future. Healthy wisdom teeth are easily cleaned and don’t crowd other teeth in the jaw. The tricky part is determining if those wisdom teeth are likely to cause crowding or infection in the future. Patients’ teeth should be regularly evaluated in order for doctors to give the most beneficial recommendation.
3. Wisdom teeth may not exist in the future.
Human teeth have a mathematical formula, and this equation gradually changes as humans continually evolve. Over time, humanity will eventually give wisdom teeth the boot, according to a 2016 study in Nature.
4. 18 isn’t the standard anymore.
Thanks to AAOMS’ new position and that many health and dental plans now cover dependents to age 26, there isn’t the rush to get them out at 18 anymore. Though it’s safe to err on the younger range (18-24), the decision to remove wisdom teeth should be made 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 help you make the best decision.
5. Check your coverage first
Because wisdom teeth extraction is a significant procedure, review your benefit plan before you’re in the chair starting the anesthetic. Some dental plans don’t cover the procedure and others may require preauthorization by the insurance company or even a determination by a third party that it is medically necessary.
What’s your wisdom teeth experience? Share your wisdom below.