In most Western cultures, having wisdom teeth removed is seen almost as a rite of passage, but why do they need to be removed anyway? In most developed countries they are removed as a preventive procedure before they cause any medical complications. Why? Because in the event that they do cause problems after they have come in, it is a lot more difficult to remove wisdom teeth that have sprouted roots and connected to the jaw. Extracting wisdom teeth that are already connected to the jaw could result in nerve damage or other complications.
photo by Sarah (Rosenau) Korf
By now you may be thinking, “well that’s great, but if wisdom teeth cause that much trouble before they even come in, then why do we even have them?” It’s true that wisdom teeth don’t seem to serve much of a purpose now, but scientists think that they did play a role in our evolution. Prehistoric diets required a lot of chewing power, which causes excessive wear on the teeth. However, our jaws have gotten smaller over history, as a result of eating softer or cooked foods. This means that we no longer require the extra set of molars, and they tend to make the rest of the teeth overcrowded in our modern jaw size.
If you’re interested in learning more about wisdom teeth, or are looking for an extraction, visit your Bellevue family dentist today.
For more helpful advice and fun facts about dental care, check out the previous installment of our mini-series “The Whole Tooth.”