The Low-Down on Wisdom Teeth

wisdom teeth photo
Photo by Tazebeth

Here’s a question: why are they called wisdom teeth?

We all have to deal with them sooner or later. The wisdom teeth–or, more properly, the late-erupting third molars–are one of the most common issues that dental professionals deal with on a regular basis. Short answer to our question, third molars are called wisdom teeth because they often show up after all of the other teeth in our mouth, around ages seventeen to twenty-five.

But what’s the deal with wisdom teeth?

Why do wisdom teeth cause us so many problems?

Whatever the answer is, we know that we’ve had to deal with wisdom teeth for about as long as we’ve had written history. There are accounts of wisdom teeth giving people trouble as far back as Aristotle, which is a fun–if painful–point of human connection!

At the most basic, the reason wisdom teeth give us trouble is because our mouths no longer have the room to fit them, but they still grow in. The reason for this is that the wisdom teeth–the third molars–were a lot more important before people had cooking! Scientists and archaeologists theorize that wisdom teeth were used to break down rough plant material to make it easier to digest. Now that we don’t need to chew grass to survive, our mouths have moved away from the need for that extra set of teeth.

All of this may sound pretty cool. But the extra teeth in our smaller mouths can lead to a whole bunch of problems– most of which can be summed up with ‘impacted teeth.’ Impacted teeth are teeth that don’t have the room to fully emerge into your mouth. This can lead to issues with pain, issues with inflammation, and even issues with infection or tissue damage. In fact, according to some sources, as many as 95-98% of adults over the age of sixty have issues with dental cavities or tissue disease when they keep their wisdom teeth.

Don’t worry– there are options!

So what do we do about wisdom teeth? Well, we can always leave them in. But that sets you up for a lot of problems down the line. Instead, most dentists recommend having the wisdom teeth taken out before they’re fully developed. This side-steps a lot of the issues that can arise with wisdom teeth before they get a chance to become real problems. There are ways to solve the problems that come from impacted wisdom teeth, but they can often be both intensive and expensive.

Either way, don’t worry– dental practice has come a long way since the days of Aristotle. Dr. Matthews will come up with the best solution to address your wisdom teeth, either before they become an issue or after. Look us up if you’re in the Austin, TX area– contact us if you have any questions about wisdom teeth!

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 2, Suite 221
Austin, Texas, 78746
(512) 452-2273
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