Although most people need their wisdom teeth removed, it’s not necessary for absolutely everyone. Often, though, because the problems that result can be serious, we may recommend removal of your wisdom teeth before we know for certain that there will be a problem.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, technically called third molars, are a remnant of our evolutionary past when we ate much tougher, raw foods. These foods stimulated the growth of a larger jaw. They also wore down our teeth more so that replacements were necessary to allow our ancestors to be able to keep chewing their entire lives, perhaps an average of 35 years or so. Some individuals survived to an age of perhaps 50, but by this age they often had only one or two teeth left, so it’s just as well they got the extra ones!
When we began cooking our food, we ate much softer foods as a result, and our jaws began to shrink. The so-called Magdalenian Girl, a skeleton that dates from 13,000-15,000 years ago represents the first known case of an impacted wisdom tooth.
When to Extract Wisdom Teeth
For some people, wisdom teeth come in fine, and there’s no need to worry about them. For other people, wisdom teeth may become impacted, which means that they hit up against the side of the second molar and get kind of stuck. As the wisdom tooth tries to force its way out, it can push against the other teeth, causing crowding and other orthodontic problems. It can also cause damage to the second molar, and, because it will be hard to clean (and make the second molar hard to clean), it can put you at additional risk of decay and may become infected.
If your family has a history of impacted wisdom teeth, it might be best to remove them before they become impacted. We may also recommend removal if they look like they will become impacted. Or we may remove them if they are becoming impacted and causing symptoms.
The right time to remove wisdom teeth depends on your situation.
If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth and want to lean whether they should be extracted, please call (303) 975-6987 or contact Ascent Dental in the Cherry Creek area of Denver today.