Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are normally the last teeth to appear in our mouths. This most commonly happens between the ages of 17 and 25, hence their name

We have these teeth because, back in the hunter/gatherer period of our evolution, we needed to do much more chewing to be able to swallow our food. Fast forward to 2024, and, without over simplifying thousands of years of evolution, food is a lot easier to chew.

These teeth have quite a bad reputation and to some extent it’s fair. For a lot of people, they can be no problem. In fact many of us don’t have wisdom teeth at all. Issues arise when wisdom teeth do appear but there is insufficient space for them to come through fully. They are then known as impacted wisdom teeth.

If wisdom teeth appear in awkward positions they can cause a range of problems, mainly because it’s often difficult to keep them clean. The most common of these are:

  • Infections in the gum surrounding (usually lower) the teeth
  • Decay
  • Decay in the tooth in front of the tooth

All three can be very problematic and it might be necessary to consider removing an offending wisdom tooth or teeth. Often, because the teeth are already in a difficult position, they are also then a little more complicated to take out. Your dentist will discuss this in detail with you.

Wisdom teeth often seem a little pointless. They often don’t play much of a role in chewing so being without them is usually no problem at all.

Prevention should be the focus. Take the time to clean carefully around the teeth, get them checked regularly and let us know if you experience any problems.

As ever, if you would like advice about this or any other aspect of your dental care, please let us know.

Make an appointment today with one of our dentists – you can do this on line or by phoning our reception team.