If you’ve ever wondered why wisdom teeth (the third set of molars) develop only to be removed, you’re not alone. It’s a strange phenomenon that hasn’t been explained very well through the years, but we’re here to change that!
The wisdom teeth are considered vestigial organs along with the appendix and other body parts that have become useless to our 21st -century bodies. This simply means that our bodies no longer need these parts to fully function. In fact, many times our bodies reject these parts and they must be removed so that we can remain healthy.
Continue reading to learn how and why our wisdom teeth have evolved over time and what that means for our modern jaws.
Behind the Name
Do these teeth really have anything to do with making us wise? No. Not at all. If so, we certainly wouldn’t want to remove them!
The third molars are called wisdom teeth because they develop later in a person’s life, between the ages five and thirteen, whereas the second molars develop around age three. Sometimes, they don’t fully emerge until after a person turns 24.
The Evolution of Wisdom Teeth
Anthropologists believe wisdom teeth were essential for our ancestors. This is because they ate course, hard-to-chew foods like nuts, roots, leaves, and meats that required immense jaw strength for chewing. Additionally, they didn’t cook their foods down on a stovetop, use eating utensils, or have as many soft food options that we have today.
Since then, according to scientists, the human brain grew causing the jaw to narrow. This is also attributed to the availability of cooked, chopped, diced, and soft foods. Now, if a person’s wisdom teeth develop at all, they are often impacted because there isn’t enough room for them. Sometimes, the tooth only partially erupts and leads to a serious infection. And other times, people don’t develop wisdom teeth at all, or the wisdom teeth develop perfectly.
Types and Symptoms of Impaction
There are three types of wisdom teeth impaction:
- Soft tissue impaction where the top of the tooth has emerged through the jawbone but not the gums.
- Partial bony impaction where the tooth is somewhat broken through the gum.
- Complete bony impaction where the tooth cannot erupt through the jawbone.
While some people don’t show symptoms of impaction, there are several signs an oral surgeon looks for. These symptoms indicate that one or more of your wisdom teeth are impacted:
- Red gums
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Jaw pain
- Swelling around the jaw
- Unpleasant breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Pain when opening mouth
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact an oral surgeon near you today.
Who To Call
While you may initially think to call your family dentist, an oral surgeon is the best dental specialist for the job. An Oral Surgeon has years of additional training beyond dental school, not only in surgery of the mouth and face but also in medicine and IV Anesthesia. Search now for Wisdom Teeth Near Me to find a qualified Wisdom Teeth Specialist. Oral Surgeons have the right tools and technology to determine the trajectory of your wisdom teeth, and they have the knowledge and skill to create a treatment plan that meets your specific needs.