Why do we get wisdom teeth?

The wisdom teeth are the last set of molars that come in, far in the back of the mouth. Many people—in fact, most people—don’t have enough room to accommodate these large teeth and so have to have them extracted. Why do we get these teeth, then, if they usually just have to be removed. There are a few different theories.

The Purpose of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are generally considered to be a vestigial organ—that is, a body part that developed in our earlier ancestors that is no longer particularly useful to modern humans. There are a few theories as to why these teeth were originally a desirable trait. One thought is that our ancestors had larger jaws than we do, and had enough room for the extra teeth. As we evolved smaller jawbones and smaller skulls, the wisdom teeth lingered.

Why? Possibly because, until recent generations, humans regularly lost their teeth—often all of them. Most people probably lost a few molars before they reached their late teens or early twenties. This is when the wisdom teeth usually arrive. With this extra set of molars on the back burner, we were able to replace missing molars naturally.

Do I Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Today, though, most of us keep all our molars well into adulthood and old age. With molars no longer falling out or requiring removal due to damage or decay, there simply isn’t room for the last set. In many cases, the teeth become impacted and must be removed via oral surgery. This means that they are pressing against other teeth or against the jawbone and are unable to fully emerge. Inflammation and infection often result.

It’s possible you might not need to have them removed, so keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort in the back part of the jaw
  • Discomfort in your mouth overall, especially if your teeth seem to be moving
  • Any signs of infection or inflammation
  • A partially erupted back molar

If you experience any of these issues, contact us at Dorval Smiles to find out if you need oral surgery to have your wisdom teeth removed.

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