Contrary to their name, keeping your wisdom teeth is anything but smart. These leftovers from our caveman days can cause all kinds of dental problems if left in your mouth. Here’s some more information about wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth — what are they?
Like your tailbone, wisdom teeth are classified as vestigial organs. These are body parts that have become unneeded, as we have evolved. In other words, they are leftovers from the days when saber-toothed tigers were chasing us around. Unlike today’s soft diets, our diets back then consisted of leaves, nuts, roots, and very tough meats. This required greater chewing power and caused greater tooth wear. Plus, back then, despite its lack of photogenic criteria, our jaws were longer than they are today.
After some evolutionary improvements, our third set of molars, the wisdom teeth, are no longer needed. But they didn’t get the memo, so they still come in. The first molars usually erupt around age six, the second around age 12. The wisdom teeth begin forming around age 10, but don’t erupt until between the ages of 17 and 25, when we are, in theory, wiser.
Three sets of molars is a crowd
When this third set of molars tries coming in, they are usually impacted, or blocked, by the other teeth (remember our jaws are now much shorter than our Cro-Magnon days). They come in sideways and are often surrounded by jawbone. They sometimes partially erupt, leading to pockets in the gums where bacteria love to go. In general, these things have no redeeming qualities and need to be removed.
Get them out!
So, these space hogs of your mouth need to come out. It’s best to have them extracted when the patient is between 15 and 18 because wisdom tooth roots are only two-thirds formed at that time. The later you wait, the harder it is to extract them and the more problems they can cause.
Show your wisdom and get your wisdom teeth (or your teenager’s) taken out. Call us at the Doctors of Dental Medicine, 732-329-3113 and let’s talk.