Wisdom teeth hurt once they start erupting and, most of the time, they have to be removed either because they cause discomfort or they push against neighboring teeth. Other than signifying that we are mature, what are the functions of our wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth emerge between the ages of 17 to 25, a period which is known as the “age of wisdom.” While there are individuals whose wisdom teeth manage to come in without causing any problem, a majority of the population struggles with these molars. In fact, most of these people who have troubles with their wisdom teeth do not get them in at all. The molars stay impacted underneath the gums and must be extracted in order to keep one’s mouth healthy and ward off any pain that might result.
If wisdom teeth don’t even manage to come in properly in the vast majority of the population, why do we get them in the first place? The most popular theory for why we get wisdom teeth dates back to the time of our ancestors. During the pre-historic era, humans subsisted of a diet of raw foods which were hard to bite into and chew. Dentists speculate that an additional row of teeth allowed early humans to masticate their tough food properly. One finding which supports the theory is the fact that most individuals whose roots lie in agricultural populations often do not have any wisdom teeth, unlike those in hunter-gatherer populations.
As food preparation techniques started to improve, the need for our wisdom teeth began to fade. At the same time, jaws of humans started to scale down in size, which is why it’s common for people today to not have their wisdom teeth come in at all.
There are two common problems related to wisdom teeth – the first is that our jaws are too small to accommodate this extra set of molars and the second problem is that our wisdom teeth are too large to fit into our jaws. The lack of space will lead to either impacted wisdom teeth wherein the molars never get to erupt, or sub-impacted wisdom teeth wherein the molars grow in a sideways fashion. Even if your wisdom teeth manage to emerge without any hitch, their being located so far back can lead to food being trapped in this hard-to-reach region where you cannot just brush or floss the trapped debris away.
If you have any more questions about wisdom teeth, schedule your Appointment today!