Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

 Grand Rapids, MI

Did you know that approximately 5 million Americans have their wisdom teeth extracted every year?

Wisdom teeth are the third molars that emerge between the ages of 17 and 21. But not everyone has space in their jaws to accommodate these extra teeth.

As such, Dr. Yun may recommend extracting them before they cause trouble.

When so many people need extraction, it makes you wonder why we have wisdom teeth at all.

The answer may lie in our ancestry.

Wisdom Teeth Have Ancient Roots

The most accepted theory behind wisdom teeth asks us to look at the diet of our distant ancestors.

Early humans ate a much different diet than the soft, cooked foods we eat today. Our ancestors lived off a diet that consisted of roots, raw meat, and tough plants.

To help them grind these tough foods, they developed a third set of molars. They also had larger jaws to accommodate the extra teeth.

Today, humans have smaller jaws and eat much softer foods. But our genes still produce wisdom teeth that no longer have room to grow.

When wisdom teeth don’t have room to emerge through the gum line, they can come in at an angle.

In other words, crooked wisdom teeth can cause a lot of damage to your smile and undo years of orthodontics.

How Wisdom Teeth Affect Oral Health

A dentist will be able to look at your X-rays to determine if you’ll need wisdom teeth removal. Wisdom teeth don’t form until around the age of 10 and don’t emerge until early adulthood. This means that Dr. Yun will have plenty of time to monitor your wisdom teeth before they erupt.

We'll need to remove crooked wisdom teeth as soon as possible. Likewise, we'll need to extract wisdom teeth if the jaw is too small to accommodate them. Otherwise, the wisdom teeth can get trapped under the surface of the gums or only erupt part way.

Under these circumstances, an impacted wisdom tooth can weaken the bone structure, undo years of orthodontic work, and cause pain and infection.

The good news is that Dr. Yun will recommend wisdom teeth extraction before this happens.

Why You May Need Wisdom Teeth Removal

Most people need wisdom teeth removal during early adulthood. But there are some people who are able to keep some or all their wisdom teeth.

You may be able to keep your wisdom teeth if they're coming in straight and there's enough space in the jaw.

Each patient’s dental history is unique. That's why your dentist will need to look at your X-rays to determine if you are able to keep your wisdom teeth. Dr. Yun will be able to show you X-rays of your teeth and explain the situation in a way that is easy for you to understand.

If you experience wisdom tooth pain, call our office as soon as possible. Sometimes the only way to get relief is through extraction.

Request an Appointment With Dr. Yun

Dr. Suk Jun Yun is an experienced family dentist in Grand Rapids, MI. As such, he'll be able to determine whether you should extract your wisdom teeth or not.

Ready to request an appointment? Have questions about wisdom teeth removal? Please call the NorthPointe Family Dental & Implant Center at (616) 288-6134. You may also fill out our online contact form and someone from our office will reach out to you soon.

This blog post has been updated.