If you’ve ever dealt with the pain of having a wisdom tooth erupt, you may be wondering why these teeth exist. Even though wisdom teeth appear to be pointless, at one time, they were actually essential. This third set of molars typically comes in during a person’s early twenties or late teens. Wisdom teeth sit at the rear of the mouth, just behind a person’s back molars. Not only do they cause discomfort, but they can also lead to tooth crowding, difficulty brushing and flossing, jaw stiffness, and a host of other issues.
What Wisdom Teeth Are and Why Many People Have Them Removed
You may be surprised to discover that wisdom teeth actually had a very functional purpose at one point in time. Today, most people have them extracted due to discomfort. Wisdom teeth can erupt at the wrong angle, or there could be insufficient room in the mouth for accommodating them. In each of these cases, extracting wisdom teeth is often the best solution. If left in, cavities can begin to form, pain will be persistent, and the remaining teeth could be forced out of their natural positions.
However, years and years ago, this third set of molars was used by our ancestors to masticate and break down hard, crunchy foods that were uncooked. Tough, raw plants could be ground down to digestible pieces using the third molars. Thus, before the advent of cooking, a healthy set of wisdom teeth was actually necessary for survival.
As people learned to soften their foods by cooking them, and by engaging in other forms of food preparation, wisdom teeth became less and less useful. Even the human jaw gradually adapted to a new and more advanced means of food preparation by becoming smaller and less powerful. As third molars, or wisdom teeth, became increasingly obsolete, many humans stopped developing these structures altogether. Today, only about half of all adults have one or more wisdom teeth develop.
Signs Your Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Extracted
It isn’t always necessary for people to have their wisdom teeth taken out. For some people, there’s actually ample room at the back of the mouth for accommodating third molars. In these cases, wisdom teeth develop and erupt just like every other tooth. For others, however, having the third molars come in can mean constant discomfort and a host of oral health issues.
Whether your wisdom teeth need to be extracted is something that your dentist will determine. However, you should schedule an appointment to talk about wisdom tooth extraction right away if any of the following issues exist:
- Stiffness, swelling, or pain at the jaw
- Tenderness, swelling, or bleeding at the gums in the back of the mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth or pain while yawning
- Pervasive mouth odors or a persistent bad taste in the mouth
When problems like these arise and wisdom teeth are the most likely culprit, visiting a dentist is essential. Schedule an appointment at Greater Houston Pediatric Dentistry today to have your child’s wisdom teeth examined.