Did you know some people have no wisdom teeth at all?
However most people have four and occasionally people will even have five wisdom teeth! Now that is a bit of a mouthful to contemplate.
The usual scenario is that third molars or wisdom teeth as they are fondly called, push their way through the gums in our late teens or early twenties. Occasionally they surprise us all by appearing much later in life.
If your jaw does not have enough space for the wisdom teeth to fit then we call this an impacted wisdom tooth. Generally speaking if you have enough space the wisdom teeth will happily appear at the back of the mouth behind the other molars, fit into the correct spot and be useful for chewing. Alternatively other wisdom teeth come only halfway into your mouth, get stuck, push against your good neighbouring molars, cause a food trap, cause a decay cavity or a swollen and infected gum, bad breath and cheek biting.
Basically if the wisdom teeth have come through fully in to your mouth and are being useful keep them, however if they are causing repeated ongoing, annoying issues as listed above, have them removed.
If you are having orthodontic or tooth straightening work done, wisdom teeth are usually best removed to avoid aggravating the crowding. If you have a choice it is best to have annoying wisdom teeth removed while the patient is young. The bone surrounding the tooth is softer and the roots have not formed fully so they are shorter.
Why do we have wisdom teeth at all?
One theory is that in the days of prehistoric man our diet was much coarser and we needed the third molars to help with crushing and grinding of our food. However over time mankind’s diet has become softer. In addition, with evolution our jaw has become progressively smaller due to this change in diet to the point where in modern times we no longer need the third molar or wisdom tooth to crush our food. Eventually mankind will evolve without any wisdom teeth at all.
In the meantime while we wait for evolution to sort out wisdom tooth issues, if you are experiencing a problem with an impacted wisdom tooth ask us for some wisdom about your tooth options.