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What Do We Need Wisdom Tooth For?

Wisdom teeth, also known as the third set of molars, usually grow out of the gums between 17-21 years old. Its development is comparable to the first time we grow out of our baby teeth, which to most folks cause mild discomfort, but for some, it will be unbearably painful.

These final sets of molars, or wisdom teeth, are likely to be impacted, which can cause sore and swollen gums. Sometimes, wisdom teeth do not completely form at all. Which begs the question, why do humans develop and grow them in the first place?

Most humans have 32 teeth, which includes wisdom teeth, so technically it’s not considered as an excess tooth. People having more than the usual 32  teeth could be suffering from hyperdontia, a condition that causes the development of too many teeth.

Human anatomy’s need for wisdom tooth

The theory is that human teeth have evolved in such a way that the placement and form of each tooth ensure the best chance of the survival of our early ancestors. 

The ancestors of human beings had a much larger and powerful jaw, which was critical for their species’ survival. They needed this power to catch, dismember, and consume meat, and chew leaves, and roots. A diet of raw and uncooked food, which is mostly tough, made a third set of molars useful in the digestive process.

Ancient humans didn’t have the privilege to visit the nearest dentist, so they were likely to have endured damage to their teeth. This lead experts to believe that wisdom teeth could have played a back-up role when early humans damaged their first two sets of molars, increasing their chance of survival.

After many years of evolution, some experts concluded that when our ancestors learned to process their food making it softer and easier to chew. They learned to use tools that aided them in crushing and pounding meat, roots, and leaves first before ingesting, and used fire to cook and tenderize other food sources. This change in behavior could have resulted in modern humans having smaller jaws but much larger brains. Because of this, their dependence on wisdom teeth slowly diminished, eventually finding no sufficient use for wisdom teeth at all, much like today. 

With human evolution came new and more effective methods of delivering the nutrients our body needs. Now, most folks still have the same lineup of 32 teeth, however, unlike our ancestors, human anatomy might not have found a decent use for those annoying wisdom teeth. Though this might be the case, some people have inherited genes with mutations that prevent them from growing wisdom teeth. This has been observed among the Inuit people.

Although anthropologists suggest that humans have evolved beyond our need for wisdom teeth, only a fraction of the whole population may never grow wisdom teeth. Men are most likely to develop at least one wisdom tooth. It might still be a long way for evolution to completely eradicate the need to grow these teeth.

Ironic Wisdom Tooth: Growing in a Not-So-Smart Way

Having a nearly useless pair of teeth is one thing, but a tooth that becomes impacted is another matter that must be taken seriously. It could mean your nearest family dentist should extract it.

This third set of molars is situated at the very back of the mouth. They grow out as our baby teeth do and push through the gums causing them to be sore or even swollen. This is mostly the case, even if you’re lucky enough to not have impacted wisdom teeth, but some do not experience any trouble at all.

Many people feel mild discomfort during this stage, and some people even find it hard to eat. Impacted wisdom teeth are cases where the wisdom teeth do not grow out and push through the gums at all. An x-ray will see the form and position of the impacted tooth.

A much bigger problem can arise from a partially impacted tooth, which is a tooth that has partially pushed through one’s gums and which some parts are visible. This condition might cause other complications as food particles are more likely to get stuck in the gaps between the teeth and gums. The trapped food might prove hard to remove. 

When this happens, it might put you at a higher risk of tooth decay, toothache, bleeding gums, pain in the jaw, problems opening your mouth, and even bad breath.

What Causes Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Overall, impacted wisdom teeth result from having a small jaw that can’t accommodate the number of teeth that fit there properly. It is unavoidable, but your trusted oral health provider will help you decide if extraction is necessary. Besides, you can still avoid potential oral health problems by maintaining good oral hygiene.

Serious complications arising from the development of wisdom teeth might prompt your dentist to extract the tooth to avoid serious complications. Wisdom teeth growing sideways can cause complications such as cysts, damage to adjacent teeth, infection, or decay that can make the area harder to clean.

Although not all wisdom teeth are extracted, a lot of dental practitioners suggest extractions as a preventive measure to avoid major potential complications.

There are several ways to safely and almost effortlessly deal with a wisdom tooth. There are some quick home remedies for wisdom tooth pain if you’re nowhere near our dental clinic at Chandler, AZ.

If ever you need a wisdom tooth removed, it would only take a few hours, and you can go home straight away as it’s considered as an outpatient procedure. Your oral care provider would also provide you advice on how to take of your oral health after a wisdom teeth extraction.