We get a lot of questions about wisdom teeth here at Watts Family Dental. Some people have them; some people don’t. Some choose to keep them, while others have them removed. A lot of the time, it seems like nobody really knows what wisdom teeth are all about, why we have them, and why some of us have to get them removed. Fortunately, your Overland Park dentist is here to share a little wisdom on the subject of wisdom teeth!
Why are they called “wisdom teeth”?
Technically they are your third molars, but they’re more commonly called “wisdom teeth.” Unlike your other permanent teeth, they tend to come in when you’re somewhere between ages 17 and 21. Since age is associated with wisdom, they’ve been given the name “wisdom teeth.”
What are wisdom teeth for?
If your wisdom teeth are healthy and come in correctly, they can aid you with chewing, but their main function is no longer really relevant. Your ancestors probably ate much tougher foods than anything you currently ingest. When ancient people were trying to chew uncooked roots, nuts, and raw meat, those extra molars helped them a lot. These days, we don’t need this extra chewing power so much. After all, a pepperoni pizza is already sliced for you, and that slice doesn’t really take much effort to chew.
Does everyone have wisdom teeth?
Actually, no. Not only do some people choose to have theirs removed—or have to have them removed because of problems—some people are actually born without wisdom teeth in the first place! About 35% of people are born without them, in fact, though no one really knows quite why.
Why do my wisdom teeth need to come out?
Not everyone has to have their wisdom teeth removed, but many people do. You might need to have yours removed if there isn’t enough room for the wisdom teeth to fit properly into your mouth, which can lead to something called “impaction.”
Impacted wisdom teeth didn’t come in correctly, and this can lead to a lot of problems. Impacted wisdom teeth can become painful or inflamed and can lead to dangerous infections. They can also damage the alignment of your other teeth, pushing them out of place as they come in. When this happens, wisdom teeth have to be removed.
Because wisdom teeth don’t serve much of a purpose in the first place, some people have them removed before they become impacted and begin to cause problems. Not all wisdom teeth become impacted, however. You should check with your Overland Park dentist to find out more.
If you still have your wisdom teeth, it’s important to make regular visits to see your Overland Park dentist so that we can monitor the progress of your teeth. If you don’t have your wisdom teeth anymore, guess what? It’s still important to see your Overland Park dentist regularly to help your smile stay happy and healthy in all sorts of ways. Just call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment or to chat with a member of our friendly staff!