Why We Get Wisdom Teeth (And When To Remove Them)

wisdom teeth Of the 32 permanent teeth that adults have in their mouth, wisdom teeth are arguably the most interesting. They may or may not appear, and we really don’t need them anyway. So why do we get wisdom teeth, then? And why do some people need them removed? To answer those questions, we need to go way back in time and also learn a little about how our teeth develop throughout our lives.

Back When We Needed Wisdom Teeth

Our ancestors, millions of years ago, had a much different diet than modern humans. Before they learned to cook their food, they subsisted on raw meat, roots, nuts, berries, and tubers. They needed broad, powerful jaws with strong, large molars to be able to chew these tough foodstuffs, much like horses and cows have large flat teeth for grinding and tearing.

As humans progressed and began to cook their food, their jaws and teeth adapted to a softer and more easily chewed diet. Jaws became shorter and narrower, and some of the now unnecessary molars receded.

Tooth Development And Your Wisdom Teeth

After baby teeth fall out, the permanent teeth begin to appear. Molars, the most prominent teeth in the back of the mouth, develop in stages. The first set of molars is generally in place by the age of 6, the second set at around age 12, and the third set sometime between the ages of 17 and 21, which is why they’re called wisdom teeth.

Not everyone will develop their wisdom teeth, but most adults will have at least one come in. Your dentist will use X-rays to determine if you have wisdom teeth hidden under your gums.

Wisdom Teeth And Dental Issues

Wisdom teeth can cause problems whether they come in or not. If they do, they’re more prone to developing infections because they’re in the back of the mouth and hard to reach by brushing and flossing, and also because they can be partially covered with gum tissue. They can also put pressure on other teeth as they develop, causing them to shift and become misaligned, leading to issues later in life.

Your dentist will evaluate your wisdom teeth and may recommend removal even if they aren’t causing any immediate problems to avoid future issues. Teenagers should be evaluated as soon as they reach the age when they normally begin to appear.

To learn more about wisdom teeth, or to schedule a checkup, contact Gentle Dental Care in Edison, NJ, at 732-549-5660. Our skilled team offers family and emergency dentistry, wisdom teeth extraction, and more. You can always turn to our compassionate dentists for the gentle dental care you deserve.

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