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Molar Madness: Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

June 9, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — drsmith @ 3:49 pm
Blue translucent rendering of teeth with an orange wisdom tooth shoving in

If you or your child have recently been informed about the need for wisdom teeth extraction and are feeling anxious, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. In fact, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, approximately 5 million people in the U.S. undergo this procedure every year. This common practice is often considered a right of passage for young adults in their late teens or early twenties.

It’s only natural to be curious about why so many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed. After all, they are extracted more often than not, so why do we even have them to begin with? If you’re one of those curious minds, keep reading to find out!

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

This third set of molars typically grows in when you’re between 17 and 21 years old, long after all your others erupted. Because they show up when you’ve grown enough to have gained more knowledge, they’re commonly known as ‘wisdom’ teeth.

It’s believed that early humans evolved them out of necessity. Our ancestors relied on a diet of hard, coarse foods like leaves, roots, nuts, and chewy meats. These tough ingredients could wear down, damage, or break their pearly whites over the course of their childhood. Without access to dental care, these issues could keep them from eating regularly. This unfortunately threatened their survival. It’s likely that wisdom teeth developed to compensate for any that had become injured or dislodged. This could have made the difference between life and death.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Problematic?

Today, these molars are considered a vestigial feature, meaning that they’re a biological feature that we no longer need for our continued existence. We subsist on a diet of cooked foods that we cut into manageable pieces with utensils, so additional teeth aren’t necessary when we reach adulthood.

Furthermore, in our world today, wisdom teeth tend to cause more problems than they cure. Over time, human jaws became smaller, so there’s less room for them. Because of this, they frequently grow at inappropriate angles that push neighboring teeth out of alignment. This can wear down your enamel prematurely which leaves you vulnerable to chips and cracks. They’re also notorious for partially erupting from the gum line, which makes it difficult to brush and floss them. These ‘impacted’ teeth often develop an infection that puts your dental health at risk.

As a result, many dentists recommend taking them out before they can cause real harm.

Thanks to current advancements in dental technology and techniques, your provider can safely remove your wisdom teeth to keep your happy, healthy smile intact!

About the Practice

At 21st Century Dental of Irving, people of all ages benefit from a team of dentists who work together to provide a full range of services under one roof. They have experience handling everything from basic preventative care to more complex procedures, like wisdom tooth extractions. They want you to feel confident that your teeth are in good hands, so they take the time to get to know you and your unique needs. Then, they utilize state-of-the-art equipment to implement fully individualized treatment plans to meet them. If you’re having pain in your jaw and are concerned about wisdom teeth, you can request an appointment on the website or by calling (972) 255-3712.

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