Between the ages of 17 and 21, you’ll likely start to notice additional teeth erupting in the back of your mouth. During your routine visit, there’s a good chance your dentist will tell you that they need to come out at some point before they cause problems later. Like many others, you’re probably wondering why you even have these teeth to begin with if they more often than not only cause headaches later, both literally and for your oral health. Today, an oral surgeon breaks down their history and why so many need wisdom teeth removal in Dallas to begin with.
What’s the History Behind Wisdom Teeth?
According to anthropologists, wisdom teeth are considered to be an “evolutionary relic” that were previously used when existing teeth fell out. When humans still largely lived as hunters and gatherers, finding a meal wasn’t exactly easy. As a result, they largely consumed a tough diet consisting of meats, leaves, nuts, and roots, all of which were extremely rough on teeth. This would cause them to fall out quite easily, giving wisdom teeth far more utility. In any case, many advancements in modern society have made wisdom teeth largely obsolete.
Why Don’t We Need Them Now?
Not only are humans able to better source their food, but cooking and preparation practices have evolved as well. For example, we can cut, crush, and cook food with utensils and appliances to make them easier to consume.
Additionally, oral hygiene practices and accessibility to oral care products (i.e. toothpaste, floss, etc.) have made it much easier to maintain a healthy smile, reducing the risk of tooth loss tremendously compared to the hunter/gatherer communities of the past.
Ironically enough, a part of the body that once helped humans survive is now more likely to cause problems with long-term oral health!
When Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Come Out?
While the jaw is typically done growing by the age of 18, most wisdom teeth don’t begin to erupt until after that. If wisdom teeth need to be removed, it’s usually to avoid the following:
- Crooked teeth
- Crowding teeth
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Jaw pain
- Cysts underneath the gums
During a routine exam, dentists may recommend visiting an oral surgeon to have wisdom teeth removed if they believe it will prevent future dental problems. However, if you notice pain in the back of the mouth, swollen or tender gums, or difficulty opening your mouth, don’t wait to call an oral surgeon to see if you need one or more wisdom teeth removed!
About the Author
Dr. Cam Wendling has been performing oral surgeries for over 10 years, including wisdom teeth removal. During your initial exam, he’ll confirm if an extraction is the best solution for your long-term oral health and make sure you’re feeling comfortable and informed before starting treatment. To schedule an appointment or determine if you need wisdom teeth removed, you can contact him through his website.