set of teethBy now, most people have heard all about evolution and how all different types of animals and plants have changed slowly over time to adjust to their environments or needs. In the human species we have a very annoying remnant of our evolution known as our “wisdom teeth”.

They are also called the “third molars” and they are often a source of debate in the dental and medical communities. There are some who feel it is never mandatory and others that say it is…so, what is the actual answer? To be fair and honest, the best way to look at the situation is that most of the time you will need to get them extracted.

Why? In the many generations before our modern era, these teeth were needed by adult humans, and were a sort of secondary set that would arrive at roughly the same time as adulthood. Today, we require fewer teeth and even our jaws have decreased in size to accommodate such changes.

The result? Wisdom teeth can cause all kinds of problems as they mature and begin “erupting” through the flesh of the gum. They are similar to all of the other teeth and begin as tiny seeds in the bone. Over time they grow and emerge, but, for the most part, at a slower rate. When we reach adulthood, our teeth tend to set into place without any physical factors leading to change.

Wisdom teeth can cause enormous changes

For instance, unless we take a blow to the mouth or jaw or have some unusual conditions, our teeth will remain in place over the remainder of our lives. When wisdom teeth make an appearance, however, they can cause enormous changes depending upon the way they enter the mouth. They can line up perfectly with the other teeth and leave the bite pattern intact. They can also grow forward and in the wrong direction, put too much force on all of the surrounding teeth and even cause serious jaw problems.

One common misconception is that these wisdom teeth can cause crowding of the rest of the teeth. While they can put pressure on the teeth directly next to them, it is generally not enough to move the teeth. There are very few, if any, cases that they will lead to crowding. The biggest concern is the lack of space for the wisdom teeth to come in. If a tooth has no room to come through the gums completely, it can leave pockets of gum tissue around it that can build bacteria and lead to an infection. This gum tissue also makes it very difficult to clean and will lead to cavities.

Another concern

The force that wisdom teeth place on the teeth directly next to them is another concern. Many times they push on the teeth next to them in a way that is impossible to keep clean. This, again, leads to buildup of bacteria and decay on both the wisdom tooth and the tooth next to it. Many times, if left, this can lead to the wisdom tooth and the adjacent tooth needing to be taken out.

There are always exceptions to a rule, but in general, wisdom teeth should be removed and it should be done ideally between the ages of 16 and 20. This allows for the best bone healing and easiest recovery without a lot of complications.