Wisdom teeth can be a bit of a pain. Sometimes literally, if you don't take the appropriate measures when they start to cause problems. Wisdom teeth removal is one of the more common procedures that people undergo at the dentist, but why do we have these seemingly irrelevant third molars?
It turns out that wisdom teeth are actually relics from the distant past of our evolution, dating back to the good old days when humans subsisted on a more plant-based diet and didn't have the modern cooking conveniences that make food easier to digest. Back then, the extra teeth were useful for breaking down tough substances, and we had larger jaws to accommodate them.
Today though, our jaws are smaller, reflecting the less strenuous task that our teeth have when it comes to mechanical digestion. As a side-effect of this evolutionary change, there simply isn't room for wisdom teeth, leading to a slew of potential problems that can arise.
Wisdom teeth today
In modern humans, when wisdom teeth 'erupt', or come through into the mouth, they can cause serious problems. These range from issues of infection when the molar disrupts the gum tissue, to jaw fractures and overcrowding of teeth in the mouth. In some cases, more serious conditions can develop – including cysts and tumours.
For all of these reasons, it's crucial to make sure your dentist is aware of any movement at the back of your jaw, and if need be, for the wisdom teeth to be removed. It's a quick and easy procedure, often being performed under local anaesthetic. If you're feeling uncomfortable about the operation, there is always the option of sedation dentistry.
The future of wisdom teeth
Whether you have a full set of third molars, only one or none at all, make sure that you keep tabs on your teeth with regular visits to your dentist.
Did you know that a significant percentage of people are born without wisdom teeth? Or with less than the usual allotment of four? To add to that, some scientists believe that in the future, humans across the world many not have any wisdom teeth at all!
The gene that causes a lack of wisdom teeth is more prevalent in certain ethnic groups than others, and the condition is caused by a mutation that may have first arisen as long as 400,000 years ago, according to Live Science.
Whether you have a full set of third molars, only one or none at all, make sure that you keep tabs on the development of your teeth with regular visits to your dentist. If you do need to have your wisdom teeth removed, the team at City Dentists are happy to help.