Wisdom teeth extraction is one of the most common dental procedures. Nearly everyone needs to have these molars removed.
This may seem like a strange phenomenon. After all, why would we grow a third set of molars at all if they only cause problems? And what did people do before modern extraction techniques?
The answer to those questions hearkens back to another very old point in history.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Around age six we grow in our very first set of molars. At approximately age twelve, a second set comes in. Following this pattern, our third—and last—set begins to appear at adulthood, around ages eighteen to twenty.
This third set is the group of teeth known as wisdom teeth. They grow into the furthest reaches of your mouth when they are able and get extracted when they are not.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Extracted?
Many long years ago, the health of your teeth directly affected how long you would live.
This being the case, having a third set of molars come in around adulthood would have been invaluable. With twenty years less wear and tear, wisdom teeth could give someone a fresh start.
As time passed, both medical technology and the general standard of living improved dramatically. In this modern time period, we no longer rely on wisdom teeth for continued health. We simply don’t need them in the same way that we used to.
The result of this: Gradually our jaws have gotten smaller, meaning that we no longer need or have room for wisdom teeth. This makes them more of a hindrance than a help.
The Benefits to Wisdom Teeth Extraction
When there is not sufficient room for wisdom teeth, they often become impacted. In other words, they can’t grow in at all and are trapped below the surface of the gums. When they do grow in, they are often fraught with difficulties.
These difficulties result in:
- Pain or sensitivity.
- Increased risk of cavities.
- Potential tooth decay under the gum.
- Cysts or infection.
- Damage to the roots of adjacent teeth.
- Damage to the jaw bone.
- Shifting of adjacent teeth.
- Buildup of particles or plaque in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
Extracting these teeth relieves such problems.
Do All Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
Actually, the answer to that is no. If your wisdom teeth have grown in properly, have plenty of room, and do not appear to be damaging nearby tissues or bone, then they can safely stay just where they are.
However, the vast majority of people who have wisdom teeth are not usually lucky enough to fit that criteria. If there is any risk that the problems listed above could result from your teeth configuration, it is probably wise to remove them.