Sometime between the ages of 17-21, most adults will start to experience a dull, constant pain towards the back of the jaw. It usually happens when the third set of molars develops, also commonly called wisdom teeth. They’re called that because they’re the last set of teeth to emerge. In most cases, these molars will require extraction to prevent any severe dental problems. Since they’re removed because you don’t need them, you might be wondering – why do people develop them in the first place? Read on to find out.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
As mentioned earlier, wisdom teeth are the third set of molars located at the very back of your mouth. Most people get them in their late teens and early twenties, particularly age 17-21. Although they were once essential for the early human diet, they are no longer necessary. In most cases, they are misaligned and will necessitate removal to prevent further oral complications.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Since these teeth aren’t really necessary, why do you have them at all? Well, the answer can be traced back to your ancestors. They were an extremely valuable asset for the early human diet, helping people consume chewy plants, uncooked meat, roots, leaves, and nuts. These third sets of molars easily fit into your ancestor’s much larger jaws!
Over time, the human jawline has become less broad and smaller because people have evolved beyond needing wisdom teeth. Along with the ability to cook food to soften it, modern inventions like forks, spoons, and knives have made the need for a third set of molars virtually nonexistent.
How Frequently Do People Get Wisdom Teeth?
Did you know that only about 65 percent of the human population is born with wisdom teeth? That means some people may never get any! At this rate, people may eventually reach a point where nobody will have them. However, studies found that genetics can determine whether one will develop a third set of molars.
Is Their Removal Necessary?
Since human dietary needs have changed dramatically, people’s jaws have become significantly smaller over time. Unfortunately, a smaller jaw means there isn’t enough room to fit all the teeth a person is supposed to have. It’s often recommended to extract the third set of molars to prevent dental complications down the line.
Most short-term and long-term oral health problems caused by wisdom teeth that don’t fit include:
- Crooked teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Impacted wisdom teeth
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Jaw pain
- Cysts and possibly tumors underneath the gums
Wisdom teeth were once crucial for humanity. However, they now pose a threat to the oral health of many. If you think you might need them removed, contact your dentist and get them extracted as soon as possible – your smile will thank you!
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Diercks earned his dental doctorate from the University of the Pacific. A member of the American Dental Association, he’s been working for the smiles of patients for well over two decades. Dr. Diercks has been a clinical instructor for Western Surgical and Sedation, where he taught other dentists how to perform IV sedation and surgical wisdom teeth removal techniques. If you need a wisdom tooth extraction, Dr. Diercks and Dr. Liza Karamardian are highly experienced and dental sedation is available for your comfort. Schedule a consultation on their website or call (408) 402-0900.