Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to emerge in your mouth, usually arriving in the late teens or early twenties. In most cases, there is not enough room for these teeth. They often become impacted or even infected and must be removed. Since the teeth usually need to be removed, you might wonder why we have wisdom teeth in the first place.
A Possible History of Wisdom Teeth
Scientists and dentists are unsure why we get wisdom teeth. One theory, though, is that in the distant past they might have served as replacements for teeth we were likely to lose. In the early days of humanity, we ate much coarser, rougher food and were not always able to take good care of our teeth. So when a back molar or two eroded or needed to be removed, these additional molars would emerge later to take their place so we could still eat normally.
However, as humans evolved, our jaws became smaller. We also learned more about how to take care of our teeth and developed a more refined diet. As a result, we were less likely to lose our other molars, leaving no room for the wisdom teeth. Today, we need them even less, and are more and more likely to simply have them removed.
How to Know if You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
If your third molars are emerging, you may or may not have to have them removed. If your teeth are emerging or attempting to emerge, and you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see an oral surgeon to have them removed.
• Swelling or discomfort
• Discomfort in the adjacent teeth
• Persistent toothache
• Decay in the tooth
• Impaction of the tooth
Your dentist can take X-rays to determine if your teeth are impacted. Impaction often requires oral surgery, since the tooth has not erupted. Other issues should be evaluated by your dentist to determine if action is required.
Schedule an appointment with the office of Dr. Chris Tye today to decide if you should have your wisdom teeth removed.