When it comes to talking about wisdom teeth, plenty of questions arise. Many people wonder why it’s called wisdom teeth if it hurts getting them out and why they’re even there in the first place. Well, today, you can stop wondering. We’ll be answering the most common questions about wisdom teeth and what you should do if you have wisdom teeth.
What are wisdom teeth?
They are the third set of molars that develop in our mouths. They are the molars that can be found at the very back part of our mouth, behind the first and second molars of either the upper or lower set of teeth.
Why are they called wisdom teeth?
When we were younger, we had what we knew as baby teeth (also called primary teeth). As we get older, we lose this set of baby teeth, and our permanent teeth replace them. This usually happens when we’re around five to seven years old. Most people assume that by the time we have our permanent teeth, our teeth stop developing. That’s where we’re wrong. Wisdom teeth are called the way they are because they develop when were around 17 to 21 years old. They are the last set of teeth that develop, and they emerge during the ages when we’re supposedly “wiser.” Hence it is called wisdom teeth.
Are wisdom teeth necessary? Why are they there?
Some research suggests that our wisdom teeth are there as an evolutionary leftover. When human beings mainly lived off as herbivores. People’s diets were much different during those times. We would eat roots and firm leaves that would require a lot of mashing and crushing. Our wisdom teeth were an extra set of molars that allowed us to eat these foods much easier. Our jaws were also much larger back then, allowing for more teeth to develop. Nowadays, we no longer need our wisdom teeth. They are still useful, but they aren’t necessary.
Does everyone have wisdom teeth?
Short answer: no. Not all people have wisdom teeth. But studies have shown that a majority of people do have at least one wisdom tooth present. Other people can develop two or even all four wisdom teeth (including the upper molars). As mentioned before, wisdom teeth are merely evolutionary leftovers. It wouldn’t be too surprising if, in another thousand years, the majority of the population have no more wisdom teeth left. Not to mention genetics also plays a part. If your parents happen to have no wisdom teeth in the first place, there is a big chance you also won’t have any wisdom teeth.
Why do people get their wisdom teeth removed?
In most cases, their wisdom teeth are impacted. Meaning they grew at a certain angle that is impacting another tooth. This can be uncomfortable and painful for most patients. It may also lead to plenty of other oral health problems and may even get infected. That is why 60% of people choose to get their wisdom teeth extracted.
Is it always necessary to get them removed?
Again, the short answer is no. A lot of people, sadly, grow an impacted wisdom tooth. Other people are lucky enough to have theirs grow like any other normal tooth, which is straight up. In these cases, you don’t have to get them removed. Even if they grow normally, as they aren’t impacted or anything, they may still cause your teeth to shift. Shifting teeth can result in crooked or misaligned teeth.
In most cases, when your wisdom teeth do cause shifting, your dentist will advise you to get braces treatments. And for the treatment to be effective. You would have to get your wisdom tooth removed before the treatment begins. Others will say get it removed after. In the end, it all depends on your orthodontist, so take it up with them.
How do I know if I have wisdom teeth?
Trying to determine whether you have wisdom teeth is not as easy as looking into the mirror. Some wisdom teeth may never emerge and get stuck inside your gums. The only way to make sure that you have wisdom teeth is by getting an X-ray of your jaw. If you are unsure whether or not you have wisdom teeth, here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Tooth pain in the upper or lower jaw
- Swelling and tenderness where the wisdom tooth should be
- Bad taste in your mouth due to food being trapped by an impacted wisdom tooth
- Bad breath
- Difficulty opening your mouth due to swelling
If you experience any of these warning signs, you should get an x-ray as soon as possible. That’s the only way for you to be 100% sure that you have wisdom teeth. And if it’s painful, chances are you’ll have to get them extracted too.