While most adults will have four wisdom teeth, it’s not unusual to have less than four or even none at all. Discover why not everyone has wisdom teeth and what to do if your wisdom teeth are causing you pain or discomfort.
Does everyone have wisdom teeth?
You may have heard that once you’ve reached adulthood, you should have four wisdom teeth. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people will have all four, some people will only have a couple, and others will have no wisdom teeth at all.
In this article, we’re looking at why not everyone has wisdom teeth, how to tell if your wisdom teeth are coming through, and what to do if your wisdom teeth are causing problems.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are located at the very back of the mouth. Most people have four wisdom teeth, which usually appear when you’re in your late teens or early twenties - but there’s nothing unusual about having less than four or even no wisdom teeth at all.
The number of wisdom teeth you have isn’t an issue. However, if there are complications when your wisdom teeth emerge through the gum (erupt), this can cause discomfort, pain, and possibly an infection. In these circumstances, wisdom tooth extraction (removing the wisdom teeth) is the best course of action.
Why don’t some people have wisdom teeth?
You may be wondering what causes some people to have all four wisdom teeth and others to only have some or none. In certain cases, your wisdom teeth may be below the gum line and simply haven’t emerged, while for other people the absence of wisdom teeth can be linked to their genes.
Interestingly, studies have suggested that evolution has played a prominent role in the absence of wisdom teeth - as the human brain has expanded over thousands of years, the head has lost the capacity to accommodate more teeth. As wisdom teeth are unnecessary, their absence may be due to evolutionary development.
How can you tell if your wisdom teeth are coming through?
While some wisdom teeth erupt without causing any problems, in other cases the teeth come through at an angle and push into the gum or the tooth beside them. This is called impaction.
Impaction of a wisdom tooth can cause a range of symptoms, including jaw pain or swelling, bleeding gums, and headaches. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth can cause the gum to become infected.
Signs of gum infection caused by wisdom teeth include:
- Red and inflamed gums near the wisdom tooth
- Pus coming from the gum
- Swollen and sore lymph nodes beneath the jaw
- Difficulty opening the mouth and swallowing
- Bad breath
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your National Dental Care dentist as soon as possible to determine whether they are being caused by your wisdom teeth.
What does wisdom tooth extraction involve?
Some wisdom teeth can be removed in the same way as regular teeth, under a local anaesthetic. In other cases, an oral surgeon will be required to remove the teeth, which may involve a general anaesthetic.
If you suffer from dental phobia (anxiety about undergoing dental procedures), you can ask your dentist about sedation options to make your treatment more comfortable.
If you’re experiencing issues with wisdom teeth, your National Dental Care dentist will be able to advise on the best treatment option for you. If you’d like advice on wisdom tooth extraction, book an appointment online now.