All people have wisdom teeth

: Expert explains: What you did not know about wisdom teeth

Where did wisdom teeth get their name from? Why does one have none and the other four? And when do they have to be pulled? Dr. med. dent. Jochen H. Schmidt, head dentist and implantologist at Carree Dental in Cologne, answers the ten most frequently asked questions about wisdom teeth.

Why do wisdom teeth have this unusual name?

Dr. Schmidt: This is because wisdom teeth generally only erupt in adulthood, if at all. Across cultures, age was and is equated with wisdom.

Why does one have two wisdom teeth, the other four and some none at all?

Dr. Schmidt: As a rule, if all teeth are in place, you have four wisdom teeth - one at the end of each row of teeth. In some people, however, there is a congenital and often hereditary hypodontia - the lack of one or more teeth caused by a non-placement. Conversely, it is also possible that you have additional teeth. Then the dentist speaks of hyperdontia. By the way, 20 to 23% of the population have no wisdom teeth at all.

When do wisdom teeth need to be extracted?

Dr. Schmidt: When wisdom teeth erupt normally and without problems, they usually do not need to be pulled. However, since they are very far back and sometimes cannot be cared for well enough due to poor space, these teeth are more likely to have caries. If this affects the tooth nerve, the affected tooth must be extracted.

The same applies if there is not enough space or if the wisdom teeth are so inclined that a problem-free tooth eruption is prevented. Since they are usually still in the bone in these cases, they are removed by a minor operation.

When do you have to see an oral surgeon?

Dr. Schmidt: In principle, every dentist is trained to remove wisdom teeth. However, some dentists are not properly equipped in their practice or have chosen not to pull teeth.

If the wisdom teeth are very close to the nerves or are extremely displaced, a referral to a specialist is recommended. However, this differs from case to case and should be discussed with the patient by the dentist.

Can wisdom teeth lying across or crooked be pulled without any problems?

Dr. Schmidt: Displaced, i.e. crooked wisdom teeth can of course also be removed. However, the effort is usually greater because the bone around the tooth has to be removed and the tooth has to be divided. If the tooth lies directly on the mandibular nerve, a special 3D X-ray is sometimes required.