why do we still have wisdom teeth

Not just a year ago my wisdom was tucked tightly away in my mouth, just below the surface of my gums, bothering no one. And then, last fall, it decided to emerge in the shape of three large, impacted teeth that had to come out. As I lay under the dental surgeonБs tools over the holidays, slowly coming out of my anesthesia, I wondered to myself: where did these teeth come from? Anthropologists believe wisdom teeth, or the third set of molars, were the evolutionary answer to our ancestorБs early diet of coarse, rough food Б like leaves, roots, nuts and meats Б which required more chewing power and resulted in excessive wear of the teeth. The modern diet with its softer foods, along with marvels of modern technologies such as forks, spoons and knives, has made the need for wisdom teeth nonexistent. As a result, evolutionary biologists now classify wisdom teeth as vestigial organs, or body parts that have become functionless due to evolution. Why do wisdom teeth wait to erupt long after the tooth fairy has stopped leaving change under your pillow? Tooth development, from baby primary teeth to permanent teeth, takes place in an organized fashion, over a course of years, with the first molar erupting around the age of six and the second molar erupting around the age of 12. Wisdom teeth, which begin forming around your tenth birthday, are the last set of molars on the tooth-development timeline, so they usually donБt erupt until you are between the ages of 17 and 25. Because this is the age that people are said to become wiser, the set of third molars has been nicknamed Бwisdom teeth. Б
Some people never get wisdom teeth, but for those who do, the number may be anywhere from one to four Б and, on very rare occasions, more than four, according to a study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association.


Scientific literature has yet to be able to explain why the number of teeth per individual varies, but for those who do get these extraneous, or supernumerary, teeth, it can lead to all sorts of problems. Because human jaws have become smaller throughout evolutionary history, when wisdom teeth form they often become impacted, or blocked, by the other teeth around them. Also, if the tooth partially erupts, food can get trapped in the gum tissue surrounding it, which can lead to bacteria growth and, possibly, a serious infection. Wisdom teeth that do not erupt but remain tucked away can also lead to oral problems, such as crowding or displacement of permanent teeth. On very rare occasions, a cyst (fluid filled sac) can form in the soft tissue surrounding the impacted wisdom tooth. These cysts can lead to bone destruction, jaw expansion, or damage to the surrounding teeth. Even more uncommonly, tumors can develop in the cysts, which can lead to the jaw spontaneously breaking if the tumor or cyst grows too much. There are patients that develop wisdom teeth that function just as well as every other tooth in the mouth, and as a result they do not need to go under the knife. But no one can predict when third molar complications will occur, and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that about 85 percent of wisdom teeth will eventually need to be removed.


If you do have wisdom teeth that you are thinking of having taken out, the association strongly recommends that patients remove wisdom teeth when they are young adults, in order to Бprevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing. Б People who have oral surgery after the age of 35 have higher risks for complications, harder surgeries, and longer healing times than those who get them removed in their late teens or early 20Бs. The best time to get those suckers out is when the roots are about two-thirds formed, which is generally between the ages of 15 to 18. Though I wasБwell, a lady never tells her age, but suffice it to say that for me, a weeks long lack of locution and a diet of soup and applesauce was worth no longer having pain in my jaw and food in my teeth. Sometime between, most adults will develop their third set of molars. These molars are more commonly called wisdom teeth. are categorized by their placement and function. The sharper teeth can tear food into smaller pieces and the flatter teeth grind food down. Wisdom teeth are the flatter kind of teeth, called molars. Molars are all the way in the back of your mouth. Adults get three sets of molars on top and bottom, and on both sides of the mouth. From infancy through early adolescence, humans develop their first set of teeth, lose them, and get a whole new set again. ThereБs a brief pause and then again, in early adulthood, the final set of teeth emerge. TheyБre called wisdom teeth because theyБre the last teeth to emerge. YouБre presumably БwiserБ when these teeth come in. How frequently do people get wisdom teeth?


All of the teeth a person will ever have are present at birth, higher up in the skull structure. First, a set of 20 baby teeth erupts and falls out. Then 32 permanent teeth grow in. The first usually becomes visible at age 6, the second set around 12, and the final set (wisdom teeth) sometime before age 21. Once essential for an early human diet of roots, leaves, meat, and nuts, wisdom teeth are no longer totally necessary. Today, humans cook food to soften it, and we can cut and crush it with utensils. Anthropologists believe humans have evolved beyond needing wisdom teeth, so some people may never get any. Wisdom teeth may go the way of the appendix and become completely unnecessary. It wouldnБt be surprising to some researchers if someday nobody had wisdom teeth anymore. Still, genetics do cause most adults to develop their wisdom teeth. found that at least 53 percent of people had at least one wisdom tooth come in. Men were more likely to have them than women. However, just because you donБt see all of your wisdom teeth doesnБt mean they arenБt there. Sometimes wisdom teeth donБt ever erupt and wonБt ever become visible. An X-ray can confirm if you have wisdom teeth under your gums. Whether visible or not, wisdom teeth can cause oral health problems. Wisdom teeth that havenБt erupted through the gums are called. Sometimes this causes even more problems than visible wisdom teeth. Why are wisdom teeth removed? Humans and our jaws have gotten smaller over time. There are probably a few reasons for this evolutionary progress. Some scientists believe that as the human brain grew bigger over time, the jaw got smaller to accommodate for space.


Our diet and dental needs have also changed drastically. Smaller jaws mean there isnБt always enough room in the mouth for all the teeth weБre supposed to have. There are four wisdom teeth in total, two on top and two on the bottom. People can have any number of wisdom teeth from none to all four. Most jaws are by the time a person is 18 years old, but most wisdom teeth emerge when a person is around. Most problems caused by wisdom teeth are due to the fact that they just donБt fit. increased The indicates that removal will be necessary if any of the above changes are apparent. Its recommended that teenagers be evaluated for. People who get their wisdom teeth removed at a younger age tend to heal better from surgery, before the roots and bone have fully formed. This can help avoid any potential problems before they start. There are always risks associated with surgery so be sure to ask a lot of questions when youБre deciding whether or not to have these teeth removed. If you decide not to have your wisdom teeth removed, they need to be monitored closely by your dentist. Wisdom teeth tend to become more problematic over time. Sometimes dentists will recommend wisdom tooth removal before any orthodontic work, like braces, to ensure that these teeth donБt erupt later and undo all the hard work of shaping your jaw and teeth. Either a professional dentist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon can remove your wisdom teeth. TheyБll give you clear instructions on how to prepare for surgery and what to do during recovery.

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