Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Aug 14 2023

Your wisdom teeth can be one of the more confusing aspects of your oral health. Will you get them? Will they need to be removed? If almost everyone gets them removed eventually, why do we even have them? What is their purpose? Although over five million people remove their wisdom teeth each year, the necessity of their removal has long been a topic of debate with some claiming removal isn’t needed. If your wisdom teeth are beginning to appear and you are facing wisdom teeth removal it’s best to know all the facts.

The Purpose of Wisdom Teeth

The widely accepted belief when it comes to the original purpose of our wisdom teeth comes down to their necessity by our prehistoric ancestors. These early humans needed an extra set of molars to help chew. During this time there was no chopping, cooking, or otherwise breaking down food before eating. Therefore, the food was much more difficult to chew, requiring an extra set of molars in the back of the mouth. 

Nowadays, our food is almost always cooked, boiled, cut up, mashed or in some way made more manageable to eat. This change makes our ancient wisdom teeth obsolete. Along with this dietary evolution that affected our need for wisdom teeth, our jaws also changed. To accommodate the extra teeth, earlier humans typically had larger jaws than we do today. With the change in our diets and evolution, our jaws have now become smaller. This change in jaw size is one of the reasons our previously needed wisdom teeth can cause you problems today. 

Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Necessary?

Now that we have evolved to no longer need our wisdom teeth and our jaw size has changed, keeping these teeth can end up causing a handful of different oral health issues. Oftentimes when these teeth come in they don’t come in properly. While their location far back in the mouth already makes them a concern for proper cleaning, if they come in crooked or impacted this can make the situation even worse. If you aren’t able to properly clean these teeth they can become a breeding ground for bacteria and end up in gum disease and rotting teeth. 

Along with these oral health concerns there are also cosmetic concerns. When wisdom teeth come in they may overcrowd your mouth, pushing your other previously straight teeth into more crooked positions. This can affect people’s happiness with the appearance of their smile as well as make teeth harder to clean, often resulting in more cavities.

There are arguments on both sides of this question. Some believe wisdom tooth removal surgery is unnecessary, while others believe it is important for your current and future oral health. It is important to educate yourself and speak with an experienced dentist to determine if wisdom tooth removal is right for you. Call Distinctive Dental to set up a consultation and see if wisdom tooth removal is right for you!



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