Why do we have wisdom teeth, and when should we remove them?

Our bodies are incredible things. They function in phenomenal and intricate ways, most of which we’re unaware of as we go about our complex lives. They have evolved to be well-oiled machines and are always adapting. There are even one or two examples of this present in our bodies today. One such example is wisdom teeth. Why do we have them? At best, they seem to serve no purpose. At worst, they can be a source of agonizing pain, infection, and misery.


What are they for?

Theories around the anatomical purpose of wisdom teeth largely revolve around the idea that our ancestors had a different diet, which necessitated this extra-large set of back teeth. As our diets have evolved, the teeth have become essentially redundant, but our jawlines haven’t got the memo yet, and so many of us continue to grow them. However, we no longer have the broad jaws of our ancient relatives, and, therefore, our mouths don’t really have the space to accommodate them. This means that while they are trying to break through, wisdom teeth can cause all sorts of problems. For some people, they can grow sideways, displace other teeth, and cause immense pain. Sometimes they’re not able to fully emerge and so can cause infection and subsequent gum disease.


When should I consider removal?


Some people will not develop wisdom teeth. Others will but, while there may be some pain as the teeth erupt, they will cause no further problems and not require removal. However, for some people, wisdom teeth can become a byword for torment and a source of real distress. In this case, it’s time to consider waving goodbye to them.

Cases in which you may need to have wisdom teeth removed include:


  • Recurrent infections

If your wisdom tooth is unable to fully emerge and remains partly concealed beneath the gums, it can be very difficult to keep clean. Food particles and bacteria can become lodged beneath the gums and impossible to reach, leading to infection, pain, and decay. You want to avoid a situation in which you have to regularly take antibiotics to tackle infections. At this stage, it might be time to discuss the wisdom teeth removal price with your dentist.

  • Impacted wisdom teeth

Sometimes Wisdom teeth remain completely or partially buried, and so, rather than erupting up through the gums, they become impacted. This can be caused by a barrier, such as other teeth. They can cause damage to, or displacement of, the teeth they are growing into. Wisdom teeth can also become impacted when they are growing at an angle and veer off in the wrong direction, sometimes hitting bone in the jaw. Often this occurs when there simply isn’t enough available space in the jaw for the tooth to fully emerge.

If your wisdom teeth are not causing you any problems, there is no need to have them removed. As with any procedure, there are risks to consider and to discuss with your dentist. However, if they are having a detrimental impact on your quality of life, it’s certainly worth exploring extraction as an option. There is no reason to be a hero and suffer through it or hang on to this pointless relic of a body part if they are causing you grief. Check in with your dentist and find out whether removal is a safe and reasonable option for you.

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