Wisdom teeth – if you haven’t experienced them yourself then you will certainly have heard about them from others. Apparently, 65% of the population develop wisdom teeth at some point during adulthood, an ordeal that can range from unintrusive to excruciating. Data suggests that between 25-70% of those who develop wisdom teeth with encounter issues with their growth and need to have them removed, so it is now routine procedure to do so in many cases. But why, then, are these late bloomers called ‘wisdom’ teeth, and what is their purpose? Here at High Wycombe dentists, we thought we would explain…
Wisdom teeth are, in fact, ‘third molars,’ which develop later than other adult teeth, typically in our late teens or early twenties. However, often, there is not enough space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to come through correctly. This can cause numerous problems, such as tooth and gum pain and tooth misalignment. Wisdom teeth are supposed to provide us with extra means of chewing and grinding up foods, but in reality they often cause difficulties.
These teeth became part of our evolutionary makeup thousands of years ago, when humans had four sets of three molars in order to eat tough foods. During this time, the human brain expanded greatly in size throughout the generations, meaning that with a much larger upper skull, the jaw had to become narrower so it would still connect to the lower part of the skull. However, because the genes controlling the quantity of teeth we possess evolve separately to those that control brain development, a mismatch has occurred, so the human jaw is often still too small to fit wisdom teeth in the mouth.
Why are Wisdom teeth called Wisdom teeth?
Of course, wisdom teeth are named such because they develop later in life when we are thought to have gleaned some sort of adult knowledge and wisdom, an association harkening back to the seventeenth century. However, because our diets are no longer as rough as our ancestors’ – less raw meat, leaves, nuts and berries – the extra chewing they facilitated is no longer necessary for us.
Today, many people find that wisdom teeth can cause anything from an over-cramped jaw, necessitating orthodontics and smile design to discolouring due to a difficulty in reaching the back teeth when brushing. So it is clear that they are not as ‘wise’ as their name may suggest.
However, this need not present a problem. If your wisdom teeth are causing you any discomfort or any other issue, please feel free to contact us today. We can see you for a free consultation to decide whether your wisdom teeth need to be comfortably removed, and then we can work with you to create a painless, beautiful smile. Be truly wise and find out how to fix your wisdom teeth with our expert private dentistry in High Wycombe and leave the surgery with a smile.