The Wisdom Behind Third Molars
The wisdom behind our third set of molars is sarcastic even in name. They begin to appear between the ages of 17-25 which prompted the name "Wisdom Teeth" in the seventeenth century. Teens and young adults lived a very different life back then. Everyone who has ever been 17 (this century) knows it is, in fact, the time in our lives where we lack wisdom the most. From 17-25, most young adults struggle with finding their place and understanding their purpose in life, just as we struggle to understand the purpose of these extra molars.
This explanation makes much more sense for the term "wisdom teeth." Around 90% of the American population has their wisdom teeth removed or will need them removed. Dr. Hudson recommends removing them early in their development, as they often cause problems later in life and are harder to remove. The main reason they are usually extracted is due to the lack of room in the mouth. Usually, the jaw is too small to accommodate them and sometimes the teeth themselves are just too big to fit comfortably. Once crowding begins they can become trapped in the bone and are then labelled "impacted."
There is no definitive evidence on the purpose of wisdom teeth. What we do know is that our ancestors had a very different diet than we do. Most of their food consisted of uncooked nuts, leaves, roots and meats. These required not only stronger teeth but more of them to chew and tear the food. Skulls discovered from these civilizations show larger jaws with more room for this third row of molars that clearly was essential to their ability to consume the foods they needed to survive.
Today, we have sharp knives and fire. Our teeth have a much more luxurious life than those of our ancestors. Our jaws are also smaller and often just don’t have the capacity to hold these many teeth safely and comfortably. Time will tell if human biology decides to eliminate these seemingly unnecessary teeth.
In the meantime, Dr. Hudson is happy to take a look and help you determine whether your wisdom teeth are helping you are hurting you. Give the office a call at 888-724-7986 so we can answer any questions you have and schedule a consultation for you today!