Dodson, the University of Washington oral surgeon and professor, still has all four of his wisdom teeth. This puts him in the minority of people whose third molars grow in without any issues.
Finnish researchers followed a group of 20-year-olds who retained their wisdom teeth. Within 18 years, about 60 percent had one or more removed because of problems. "The data suggest that there's a 40 percent chance that you'll do okay. But nobody knows if you're on the 60 percent or the 40 percent side," Dodson said.
When babies teethe, parents know it, from the crying and fussiness that ensues when baby teeth come in. Teenagers teethe, too, but with considerably less drama; in fact, they may not even know that their third set of molars are erupting until a dentist points them out during a cleaning.
Sherwin's own wisdom teeth were pulled by a Navy surgeon on a ship off the coast of Vietnam; he was 20 and it was Thanksgiving Day, so his feast that day was eggnog and lidocaine. He had no complications, however.
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