Did you know that approximately 85% of Americans have their wisdom teeth pulled? Wisdom teeth are the third molars that emerge between the ages of 16 and 20. When a Rockford dentist at Scott Strickland DDS sees that your wisdom teeth are going to cause issues for the rest of your smile, they may recommend wisdom tooth removal.
When so many people have to have their wisdom teeth extracted, it makes you wonder why wisdom teeth are needed at all. Why do we have? The answer may just lie in our ancestry.
Our Ancestors Needed Wisdom Teeth
The most widely accepted theory behind wisdom teeth asks us to look to the diet of our distant ancestors for answers. Early humans ate a much different diet than the soft foods we eat today. Our ancestors lived off a diet that consisted of roots, raw meat, and tough plants. To help them grind these tough foods, they developed a third set of molars and larger jaws to accommodate the extra teeth.
Today, humans have smaller jaws and eat much softer foods. However, our genes still produce wisdom teeth that no longer have room to grow. When wisdom teeth don’t have room to properly emerge through the gum line, they can come in at odd angles or even horizontally. In other words, wisdom teeth coming in crooked can cause a lot of damage to your smile and undo years of orthodontics.
We Don’t Need Wisdom Teeth
A wisdom teeth dentist will be able to look at your x-rays during your routine dental exam to determine if you’ll need wisdom tooth removal. Wisdom teeth don’t form until around the age of 10 and don’t emerge until early adulthood. This means that your dentist will have plenty of time to monitor the angles of the wisdom teeth and determine whether there’s enough space in your jaw to accommodate the extra teeth.
Wisdom teeth that are coming in crooked or are expected to crowd permanent teeth must be removed as soon as possible. If your jawbone is too small to accommodate wisdom teeth, these teeth may become trapped under the surface of the gum or may only partially erupt. In these scenarios, crooked orcan weaken bone structure, undo years of orthodontic work, and cause pain and infection. Impacted wisdom teeth removal is the solution.
Your Dentist May Recommend Wisdom Tooth Removal
While most people experience getting wisdom teeth pulled during early adulthood, there are some people who are able to keep some or all of their wisdom teeth. If your wisdom teeth are coming in straight and there’s enough space in the jaw, your dentist may tell you that wisdom teeth surgery isn’t necessary.
Each patient’s dental history is unique, which is why your dentist will need to look at your x-rays to determine if you need wisdom teeth pulled. A dentist will be able to show your dental x-rays and explain the situation in a way that is easy for you to understand. To maintain good oral health and avoid time in the dentist’s chair, it’s important that you don’t brush off wisdom tooth pain. This may be a sign that you need your wisdom teeth removed before they cause further harm to your smile.
Dr. Strickland DDS and his team at Scott Strickland DDS Family and Cosmetic Dentistry are dedicated to helping you maintain a beautiful healthy smile. If you have any questions about wisdom teeth extraction or any of our other dental treatments, call to schedule your appointment with our dentist in Rockford, MI at (616) 866-1017.