To answer the question of whether wisdom teeth grow back, one must first understand some basic facts about types of dentition. Human dentition consists of two phases, namely deciduous dentition and permanent dentition. Deciduous teeth are also called primary teeth, and even more commonly referred to as “milk teeth”. Permanent teeth are those that erupt into the oral cavity after the milk teeth have ‘fallen out’ or exfoliated and remain throughout a person’s life.
Deciduous teeth or milk teeth start to erupt when a child is approximately 6 months of age. A child has 20 milk teeth as opposed to an adult’s 32 permanent teeth and all of them normally erupt till 2 years of age. These primary teeth will make up the child’s dentition till 6 years of age after which they start exfoliating. During this phase that begins at 6 months and continues till 6 years, the teeth present are central incisors, lateral in incisors, canines and molars. Although wisdom teeth are also molars, they are not present in primary dentition.
After 6 years of age, a child’s teeth begin to fall out. By 12 years, all milk teeth have been replaced by permanent teeth. Only now, there are also premolars. So permanent dentition consists of central incisors, lateral incisors, canines, premolars and molars. But, even at 12 years when the rest of the permanent dentition has erupted, wisdom teeth are still missing!
At what age do wisdom teeth erupt?
Before wondering if a wisdom tooth can grow back, the question arises when a wisdom tooth erupts in the first place. It can erupt any time after 12 years of age or never erupt at all. Normally it has erupted by the time a person is 21 years of age. But it can take longer than that too. This tooth appears at the very end of jaws as a third molar. Its eruption can be quite problematic at times.
Now, addressing the question: Can wisdom teeth grow back?
No. Like the rest of the permanent teeth, wisdom teeth do not grow back. Once extracted or fallen out, a new tooth does not grow in place of the previous one. Which is why it is even more important to be good to your teeth! For other teeth that fall out, there are restorative and prosthetic options to have artificial teeth replace the natural ones but for wisdom teeth this is not done. Simply because it is too far back in the jaws and its absence does not hinder function or effect aesthetics.
Even if the eruption is causing problems like impactions or infections, it is preferred to simply extract the tooth rather than try to save it. Otherwise it can harm the adjacent tooth if it is malpositioned. Even root canal treatments of wisdom teeth are done less often than simply removing them.
For those wondering about a wisdom tooth growing back because of the myth that wisdom comes from it, there’s good news. And that is, a wisdom tooth has absolutely no connection to how wise a person is. It is merely called that because it usually erupts once a person has matured and gains wisdom over the years.