Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to develop in the human mouth. They typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. Their nickname stems from the late age at which they grow in, as this is believed to be a time when people are wiser and more mature.
Despite their name, wisdom teeth often cause more harm than good. More than 80% of Canadians have their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their lives.
Why They Exist
You might be wondering why these teeth even exist if they are such a nuisance. Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth were once necessary for our early human ancestors who had larger jaws and needed the extra molars to grind up tough, raw foods like roots, nuts, and meats. However, as humans evolved, our diets changed and softened as we began cooking, cutting, and crushing our food. Our jaws also became smaller. Wisdom teeth are now considered vestigial structures that serve no real purpose.
Consequences of Wisdom Teeth
Due to their position at the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth can often become impacted or partially erupted, causing pain, swelling, and infection. This can eventually lead to cysts, or worse, tumors.
Of course, for some people, wisdom teeth may be problem-free. However, for most people, the extra teeth simply don’t fit in the mouth. This can result in overcrowding and jaw pain. Wisdom teeth can also push adjacent teeth out of alignment, causing crooked teeth, or grow in sideways.
When to Remove Them
Generally, it’s recommended to have them removed before they cause any problems. X-rays and dental exams can determine whether your wisdom teeth are properly positioned and healthy or if they are likely to cause issues down the road. Most people opt to have them removed in their late teens or early twenties before the roots are fully formed, as the extraction is less complicated, and the healing process is more efficient.
If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or infection due to your wisdom teeth, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further complications. At Centre Dentaire NP, we offer emergency services, and can remove your wisdom teeth safely and in a pain-free manner.