What are wisdom teeth?
Our third molars received the nickname ‘wisdom teeth’ because people associate the age that they come through (ages 17-25 on average) to be connected with becoming wiser. Wisdom teeth are found at the very back of your mouth and are the last teeth to come through. They are known to be very painful when initially coming through, so much so that if the pain is so severe it is quite common to have them taken out. We find our wisdom teeth come in, rather uncomfortably, at a later age, and the reason for this lies within our own evolution.
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
According to anthropologists, throughout our evolutionary journey, Human jaws became smaller and smaller. The reason for this is due to our diets changing through the years, so the need for a strong jaw to chew through roots, nuts, meat and other tough meals has become less of a priority. This has made our wisdom teeth become ‘vestigial organs’, or a body part that no longer serves a function due to being phased out during evolution.
Why are they so painful to come in?
So we know why we originally had wisdom teeth, and the purpose that they once served before being made redundant. But why do they take so long to come in? And why is it such a painful experience to some? Well, due to our jaws shrinking through millennia, we have actually just run out of room for them to come in comfortably. The adult human has 32 teeth, but often we only have enough space for 28. So when your wisdom teeth come through, they can actually push and displace other teeth. They can also become impacted, meaning they are actually blocked from coming through by your older teeth.
What problems can wisdom teeth cause?
Wisdom teeth can obviously be very painful when coming through, and it is essential that if they have become impacted or are just causing immense discomfort that you see your dentist to consult about having them taken out. If left in they can cause painful swelling, toothache, and abscesses or cysts. Impacted molars can also be a great place for bacteria to thrive, which can lead to tooth decay and eventually infection.
Are they easy to be removed?
We know that wisdom teeth do not serve a purpose today, so it is a common procedure just to get them removed when causing discomfort, and some people just don’t have them come through at all in the first place. Usually, the upper wisdom are easier to remove than the lower ones, and if you are having them removed at a dental practice, they will place you under local anaesthetic to remove them, so the whole process is painless and very beneficial if you are suffering pain from them.
So to conclude, although we no longer particularly need wisdom teeth, they can still appear and can still cause a lot of damage in some cases. Many people who have wisdom teeth, even impacted wisdom teeth, do not suffer any pain or discomfort from them, but if you do it could be really beneficial to get them removed before the cause any more pain or damage.