Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Dec 1, 2022

As we’ve written in a previous blog, a healthy adult should have a total of 32 teeth, although why does more than half the population need 4 of these teeth extracted? On average, about 65% of the population is born with wisdom teeth that are typically removed between the ages of 17 and 25. Given the fact that wisdom teeth serve little purpose and actually hinders one’s oral health, why do we have these teeth in the first place? Let’s break down the historical and biological purpose that wisdom teeth served for our ancestors, and why some of us still have them today.

Evolutionary Benefits of Wisdom Teeth

Sharper teeth are near the front of the human mouth with a purpose to tear food into smaller pieces, while flatter teeth are located in the back of your mouth to grind down food. We generally have two sets of these flatter teeth, called molars, on the top and bottom rows of our mouth, although wisdom teeth are categorized as a third set of molars upon growing in. After further research, it turns out that this third set of molars served an important purpose back in our caveman days.

Our early ancestors survived on a diet of raw meat, berries, nuts, leaves, roots, and other organic nutrition. The act of chewing through this kind of tough food required a strong bite and a jaw large enough to comfortably fit our wisdom teeth. Over time, our jawbones have evolved to be much smaller, resulting in our mouth unable to fit these original 32 teeth. For this reason, it’s absolutely necessary to extract wisdom teeth as soon as they erupt through the gumline.

The Modern Problem with Wisdom Teeth

The foods we eat in modern times are much softer; not to mention we cut, boil, chop, bake, and steam nearly everything we eat. Because of this, the modern human jawbone has shrunk to a size where it’s unable to fit our 32 teeth properly. Due to this lack of space, wisdom teeth often only partially erupt through the gumline, growing in sideways and becoming impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can be painful, or worse, become infected. Symptoms of pericoronitis, the medical term referring to the infection of an impacted wisdom tooth, includes:

  • Inability to chew because of pain
  • Bad breath, or halitosis
  • Puss or bleeding around impacted area
  • Swollen gums
  • Swollen Lymph nodes
  • Fever

Even in the absence of infection, wisdom teeth are commonly removed because they may shift and damage the rest of the teeth in your mouth. People who get their wisdom teeth removed early generally tend to avoid potential problems, as this third set of morals tend to become more problematic over time. While the short-term recovery from wisdom teeth removal surgery can be uncomfortable, it’s a great way to avoid additional dental procedures in the long run.

Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?

Have you ever heard of the old adage, “With age comes wisdom”? Due to the fact that wisdom teeth generally come in during our later teenage years, they have become synonymous with individuals growing up and becoming wiser.

How Can I Care for My Oral Health?

Flossing and brushing twice a day is essential to keeping your gums and teeth health, as well as keeps your potentially impacted wisdom teeth from becoming infected. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque from between your teeth, flossing regularly also helps keep tartar out of hard-to-reach places. GumChucks’ design ensures a flossing experience that’s faster, easier, and more effective than competing flossers or traditional floss. Our two handles with disposable floss allow you to comfortably reach all your teeth, even those in the back while wrapping the floss around each tooth. This creates the vital “C-Shape” necessary to get below the gum line and effectively clean each tooth.



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