What’s the Deal with Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that will grow into your mouth. They usually grow in sometime before you are 21, and they are named so because you are supposedly “wiser” when they come in. They also usually have to be removed when they begin to come in, because they can crowd your other teeth, and can also cause other health issues like infection.


Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth don’t seem to have much use today. They grow in, despite there not being enough room, and cause all sorts of dental issues. Then they have to be removed and the entire process seems like a waste of time and money. 

However, they did once have a purpose. Looking back to our ancestors, humans once had to live on a rugged diet of raw meat, roots, leaves, nuts, and other naturally occurring foods. This was hard on their teeth, and having a larger jaw with an extra row of molars was extremely useful for them.

But why do we still have them now? Well evolutionary changes take a long time to happen. For instance, the Earth is billions of years old, but modern humans have only been estimated to exist for 200,000 years. Therefore, these changes haven’t quite caught up to the times yet. Some people are being born without wisdom teeth, currently, up to 35% of the population is estimated to be born without them. However, it will take time for the majority of people to be born without them.


Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?

Despite their historical significance, wisdom teeth can cause a host of problems within the mouth. The first, and most common, issue with wisdom teeth is that there is not usually enough room in the jaw for them to come in without crowding and moving the other teeth. This is very undesirable, especially for people that have already invested in things like braces to achieve a straighter smile.

Some people do have room in their mouths for wisdom teeth. However, they will have to be sure to watch out for the following potential side effects if they decide against wisdom teeth removal:

  1. General tooth pain
  2. Infections
  3. Damage to other teeth
  4. Cysts or tumors
  5. Gum disease
  6. Tooth decay
  7. Cracking or breaking the wisdom teeth

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Sources

Very Well

Mouth Healthy

Universe Today

How Stuff Works