Derek Dean, DDS, MS
Glen Dean, DDS
Grant Butler, DMD

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Brunette woman wearing glasses touches her chin ponderously as she wonders about wisdom teeth

Typically, adults get their wisdom teeth in their late teens – but they don’t have them for long. More often than not, wisdom teeth have to be surgically removed to avoid issues from overcrowding. So, why do we even have these weird teeth that just seem to cause problems?

Why Do Wisdom Teeth Exist?

Adult humans have 32 teeth, including four pesky third molars also known as wisdom teeth. They’re located at the furthest corners of your mouth and are used to grind food as we eat. Scientists believe that in ancient humans, wisdom teeth were necessary because they helped grind down nuts, roots, and other course parts of our diet.

Wisdom teeth usually develop between ages 17 and 21, which is why they’re referred to as wisdom teeth. In fact, very little about wisdom teeth seems smart to the modern human. As our brains have grown in size relative to our skull, scientists believe that our jaws shrunk in order to accommodate this change. Now, wisdom teeth are prone to crowding issues and regularly damage existing teeth.

Why Do We Remove Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are associated with a number of problems from crooked and crowded teeth to tooth decay, jaw pain, and cysts. Once you consider all of the potential negative consequences of wisdom teeth, it’s no surprise that many dentists choose to remove them before they cause problems.

What Does It Mean When Wisdom Teeth Are Impacted?

When wisdom teeth do not fully erupt due to an obstruction from other teeth, this results in impacted teeth. This painful occurrence causes inflammation around the impacted teeth and can damage surrounding healthy teeth. Impaction also increases the risk of infection, as the impacted tooth can trap food debris and provide a place for bacteria to grow.

While some adults are lucky and have enough space in their mouths to accommodate their wisdom teeth without needing surgery, the majority of our patients at Ruby Canyon Dental will have their wisdom teeth removed prior to eruption. To ask our team any questions about your wisdom teeth or to schedule your next appointment, contact our office today.

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