Wisdom teeth are the most common permanent teeth to be extracted. So, we often come across questions regarding wisdom teeth. The most frequently asked question is “Can wisdom teeth grow back?” The simple answer is NO. Wisdom teeth, after being completely uprooted from their sockets, cannot grow back.
We all have a set of thirty-two permanent teeth. Out of these 32, there are four wisdom teeth. They are the last teeth that erupt in our mouth. The usual age of eruption for a wisdom tooth is between 17 to 25 years.
Wisdom teeth eruption can be a painful experience for most of us. The main reason behind this is, by the age of 17 our gums develop completely.
Wisdom teeth come out through fully developed gums and often in insufficient space causing great our discomfort.
Let’s see why a wisdom tooth cannot grow back. You will also come to know what to expect from a wisdom tooth extraction so that you don’t confuse post extraction discomfort with a new wisdom tooth.
What is a wisdom tooth?
Wisdom teeth appear at the end of each side on our upper and lower jaws. Wisdom teeth are third molars. They erupt after the age of 17 until the age of 25. For some of us, third molars don’t erupt at all.
All permanent teeth arise from their developing teeth buds in the gums. In some cases, there are no teeth buds for third molars and hence they are missing.
In very rare cases, we may have more than one tooth bud for a single wisdom tooth. So, even after extraction, it might look that new wisdom teeth are erupting. But the chances of having a second wisdom tooth are very low. (1)
The eruption of a third molar can be a very painful experience for some of us. Most of us would rather prefer the third molar extraction rather than going through the pain. Even dentists advocate the extraction of third molars for many reasons.
Can wisdom teeth grow back after extraction?
The cases of a second wisdom tooth to appear after extraction are very rare but still possible in one of the following situations –
1. More than one tooth bud
The chances are very slim of a second wisdom tooth erupting on the same spot after extraction. But it is possible in very rare cases when more than one tooth bud is present for the same third molar.
2. Supernumerary teeth
If you have more than the usual four wisdom teeth, your dentist will probably see it on a digital X-ray. The chances that you’ll have extra wisdom teeth are relatively low.
Only one or two people in every 100 will face this dilemma. These extra molars are known as supernumerary teeth.
3. Para molar
Supernumerary teeth can occur elsewhere also in the mouth. It’s possible to have extra incisors, canines, and other duplicate molars.
Duplicate molars beside our second molars are called Para molars. Para molars are not exactly wisdom teeth. Instead, they are just an extra molar in the teeth set. They are congenital in origin, which means they are an anomaly present at birth.
4. Incomplete extraction
We may also see something else poking out of our gums after a third molar extraction and mistake it for a second wisdom tooth. Third molars are inaccessible to the dentist. There are low visibility and less space to work in the third molar region.
The dentist sometimes misses out on some part of the third molar or may leave an extra root in the gums during an extraction. So, it is vital for us to know what to expect from a third molar extraction.
Symptoms that look like a wisdom tooth re-erupting
After you get a third molar extracted, you will feel a great deal of discomfort because of the difficult accessibility of the tooth. Some of the post-extraction symptoms may look like a second wisdom tooth coming out from the same spot. They are –
Swelling in the area of extraction-
There is often swelling before a tooth erupts. So, you may confuse post extraction swelling with a new wisdom tooth.
Pain and discomfort
Post-extraction, there is a severe pain once the anesthesia wears off. It is common that we mistake this discomfort for a new tooth erupting.
A part of the tooth left in the socket
The wisdom tooth area is difficult to reach for our dentist. He may leave a root or part of the tooth behind by mistake during extraction. Revisit your dentist to get this checked out.
A bony spicule
We often go through a dis-impaction surgery during removal of impacted wisdom teeth. During the surgery, it is likely for a bony spicule to emerge out of the gums. This bony spicule might feel like another tooth when our tongue touches it.
To deal with these symptoms, complete the antibiotic and painkiller prescription given to you by your dentist. It is best to follow the post-extraction instructions provided by the dentist. If the discomfort continues for over two days, revisit your dentist.
Why are wisdom teeth usually removed?
Wisdom teeth are the most common teeth to be removed. One of the following reasons is responsible for the extraction of the third molar.
By the time the third molars start erupting, there is no longer enough space in the jaw to accommodate them. Wisdom teeth often try to move into position but can’t, because other teeth are in their way.
It’s also common for a wisdom tooth to be aligned horizontally in the jaw or to be otherwise misplaced. (2)
When wisdom teeth can’t find a way to erupt from the jawbone, they become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can be painful and require immediate extraction.
2. Infected wisdom tooth
It is difficult to clean the third molar region because of difficult access. Third molars are often infected because of this reason. (3)
When a wisdom tooth becomes infected, damages other teeth or causes other dental problems. You may experience some of these signs or symptoms –
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Jaw pain
- Swelling around the jaw
- Bad breath
- A headache
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Difficulty in opening your mouth
3. In anticipation of a problematic wisdom tooth on the way
Some dentists recommend removal long before the tooth begins to erupt. When X-rays show the position of the wisdom tooth to be improper, dentists recommend extraction to avoid future discomfort.
4. To avoid crowding of teeth
Dentists prefer to extract the third molars when the jaw size is small. Also, there could be teeth crowding in the future. Dentists believe that third molars are useless because they don’t aid much in chewing.
So, they are removed to make more space for other teeth to align correctly.
Over to you
So, can wisdom teeth grow back? The common answer is NO but there is a very rare chance where it could be YES. Rarely, but yes you may have a second wisdom tooth.
It is possible for you to have more than the usual four wisdom teeth. If you do have an extra third molar, you’ll probably require additional extractions after removal of the first set.
The chances are low of having to go through the extraction procedure all over again for a second wisdom tooth. Before extraction of a third molar, dentists take a digital X-ray of the tooth.
Any abnormality is spotted in the X-ray. If a second tooth bud is present on the X-ray, your dentist will remove it along with the wisdom tooth.
If discomfort after getting a third molar removed continues for more than two days, revisit your dentist. Early diagnosis and removal of a second wisdom tooth will reduce your discomfort a great deal.