Category: Author: Sirin Scoop
For most people, somewhere between the ages of 17 – 25, the “third molars” appear. These teeth are believed to appear at a time when a person is considered “wiser” versus the time during childhood when most teeth erupt, hence the commonly known name.
And so began the history of wisdom teeth – although many parents of teenagers may argue this connection.
There was a time approximately 50,000 years ago when humans had larger jaws presumably used to chew down foliage to a digestible size so wisdom teeth were a valuable survival tool. As humans evolved and our brains grew and faces flattened, there became less use and less space for the teeth. They weren’t needed for survival so our bodies stopped making room for them. Over time and for certain people, their appearance began to pose problems for human mouths.
The need to remove the wisdom teeth began to appear.
While the removal of problematic teeth dates back to ancient Europe, up until the 1800s dentistry was often performed by barbers and blacksmiths as well general physicians. Dentistry was a very different world during this time and not given near the consideration for our oral health having an effect on our overall health the way we know it does today.
Things began to change with the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery opened in 1840. This college is now considered the oldest dental college in the world.
Currently, most adults have four molars appear, although some have more or less. In most cases they are deemed unnecessary because of the effect wisdom teeth have on other teeth. For example, when they come in sideways pushing on other teeth or when there isn’t enough room for them and they become impacted, or caught in the gums or jaw bone causing extreme pain. From the image below it is easy to see why there may be difficulties with their arrival.
Extraction of the wisdom teeth is commonly done to prevent severe problems affecting the entire mouth. A large concern is if there isn’t going to be enough room, how will this affect the rest of the teeth and will you be able to access the wisdom teeth to brush and floss them properly. Knowing that these things may become a concern later makes removal a very important decision.
While they once served a purpose to our daily needs, current research shows that the majority of people have had them removed. In fact, wisdom teeth are now classified by evolutionary biologists as vestigal organs which are body parts that have become functionless due to evolution. Basically – we don’t need them. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that about 85 percent of wisdom teeth are removed.
As with other decisions involving the best oral care treatment for your needs, your dentist will advise you on when and if wisdom teeth should be removed. Their location, spacing, and impact on other teeth and the overall oral health will be analyzed. Ultimately this decision will be based on the risk of future cavities, gum disease, and other harm to the mouth. Every patient is unique, just like every tooth.
A Conservative Dentist Providing Comfortable Care
Dr. Sirin is a Chicago-based cosmetic dentist with a penchant for learning and desire for perfection. Above all, Dr. Sirin is loved by his patients for the comfort he provides them in all of their dental care needs. For more about Dr. Sirin, be sure to visit his Facebook and Twitter pages.