Wisdom Teeth: Why do we have them?

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Also known as the third molars, the wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to erupt.

They got the name because one or all four molars tend to appear between 17 and 25, the so-called age when a person becomes wiser.

Not all people will have wisdom teeth – and they are lucky. But for those who do, the number of molars usually varies. Some get one, others get two. And there are those who have all four of them.

Wisdom Teeth
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If they don’t serve any purpose, then why do they exist?

Researchers have several theories about wisdom teeth. But Charles Darwin’s theory tends to be the most popular.

About a hundred years ago, our ancestors could accommodate 32 teeth comfortably. Moreover, they had larger jaws, which essentially became very important for their survival.

Also, back in the old days, our ancestors did not have the luxury to prepare their food using knives, meat tenderizer and other essential kitchen utensils. In fact, they ate without heating their food. They had to chew rough, coarse and raw food, such as meat, nuts and roots. Their wisdom teeth indeed served a serious function.

Whereas today, people use utensils to chop, cut, steam, bake and boil food, giving less work for teeth. We can easily take our daily meals without totally breaking a sweat.

Should they stay or go?

Although not at all common, some people are lucky not to have wisdom teeth. Unlike before, people these days could no longer accommodate all the additional molars due to the size reduction of jaws and faces.

Some of them come in harmless. However, in some cases, they become impacted, or have partially erupted, causing only a part of the tooth exposed. They could also erupt fully but at a wrong angle, usually tilting forward and thus pressing against other teeth.

Also, when the third molars remain hidden underneath the gums, they can cause mouth problems, including misalignment or crowding of permanent teeth.

Whichever is the case, if not extracted at the soonest possible time, they can cause dental problems or infections.

On the other hand, some individuals form wisdom teeth that work similarly like the rest of the Teeth. In this case, they do not necessarily have to be taken out.

However, most dental professionals highly recommend having them extracted before they take a toll on your oral health.

When is the best time to have them extracted?

The sooner you get them extracted, the better.

If you’re considering extraction, your Dentist would strongly suggest you do it at a younger age, more preferably during early 20’s or late teens. As we get older, our jaw bones become denser thus making surgery harder.

Individuals who go under the knife after the age of 35 are often more susceptible to complications. In addition, surgery and recuperation becomes more difficult and more prolonged.