Around the age of 14, your mouth begins to develop four extra molars. And anywhere between the ages of 17 and 25, these molars begin to emerge, also known as erupt, in your mouth. Since these teeth develop and erupt so late in your life, they’ve come to be called your wisdom teeth.
Extra teeth? How awesome, right? Well, not always. 85% of wisdom teeth will need to be removed. Almost 90% of people will have at least one of their wisdom teeth impacted, which means that it doesn’t erupt cleanly. Usually the jaw is too small, so the tooth is tilted.
So why do we have them? Scientists believe the wisdom tooth to be a vestigial remnant of human ancestors who needed the extra teeth to process and grind tougher plants. As our diets improved, the need for these extra molars lessened, and our jaws gradually shrunk. But these wisdom teeth never got the memo.
With the advancement of dental care and health, wisdom tooth impaction has increased as well. Centuries ago, tooth loss and decay allowed extra space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to push their way into. With braces and floss and care, perfect teeth are much more common. The increased care also means increased removal surgeries and very few complications.
Those removed wisdom teeth won’t go to waste, though. Recently scientists have discovered that wisdom teeth are an excellent source of stem cells and can be saved for possible future needs.
In the near future, scientists are working towards blocking the growth of wisdom teeth altogether, as these extra molars are the only teeth that aren’t developed in the womb. Some races already lack the genes responsible for their growth, so it just requires research and application before impacted wisdom teeth are a thing of the past.
If you need your wisdom teeth, take a visit your favorite Valencia dentist, Go Dental.