4 Things you need to know about Wisdom Teeth
Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth, or the third set of molars, were necessary for our ancestor’s early diet of coarse, rough food – like leaves, roots, nuts and raw meats – which required more chewing power and resulted in excessive wear of the teeth. The modern diet with its more refined and cooked foods, along with marvels of modern technologies such as forks, spoons and knives, has made the need for wisdom teeth almost nonexistent. As a result, evolutionary biologists now classify wisdom teeth as vestigial organs, or body parts that have become functionless due to evolution.
- Why the name ‘wisdom teeth’?
Wisdom teeth usually don’t erupt until you are between the ages of 17 and 25. Because this is the age that people are said to become wiser, the set of third molars has been nicknamed “wisdom teeth.”
- Do they need extraction?
With evolution, human jaws have become smaller in size. Hence, wisdom teeth which are the last teeth to form often become impacted, or blocked, by the other teeth around them. Also, if the tooth partially erupts, food can get trapped in the gum tissue surrounding it, which can lead to bacterial growth and, possibly, a serious infection. It can also lead to other oral problems, such as crowding or displacement of permanent teeth and on rare occasions, a cyst (fluid filled sac) can form in the soft tissue surrounding the impacted wisdom tooth. These cysts can lead to bone destruction, jaw expansion, or damage to the surrounding teeth. Even more uncommonly, tumors can develop within these cysts.
Thus, wisdom teeth definitely need to be extracted if they fail to erupt in their desired functional position within the dental arch.
- Can wisdom teeth cause ear ache?
Yes, an erupting or infected wisdom tooth can cause pain in the mucosa surrounding the tooth and in the jaw bone which can get referred to the ear, neck and head!
- Know your wisdom teeth.
The only way one can know if your wisdom tooth won’t cause any trouble, is to visit your dentist. Your dentist will examine your oral cavity, take radiographs to see the position of the root, and to decide if there is room for the wisdom tooth to erupt into its functional position.
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