Why Do We Get Wisdom Teeth?

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Updated: Wednesday, August 8, 2012, 17:59 [IST]
 
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Many of us are blissfully unaware of these 'extra' teeth called wisdom teeth until one springs up in your jaw and ruins your peace of mind. We all know that wisdom tooth is very painful, but few know what they actually are. There are various myths and half truths shrouding these extraordinary pairs of teeth.

Here are some the facts about wisdom teeth that you did not know.

Why Do We Get Wisdom Teeth?

Why do we get wisdom teeth?

For all practical purposes, wisdom teeth are vestigial organs. It is a trace of our primitive past just like the tail-bone and appendix. They are a product of our primitive ancestors and the tough food they ate. As our ancestors ate half cooked meat and hard grains, their teeth, especially molar, often suffered damage. So, 2 pairs of extra molars grew out of their jaws during their mid-life (25 was mid-life for them as life expectancy was low). These extra molars would support their damaged teeth for chewing food.

But as we eat well cooked and softened food with proper cutlery like knives and forks, these extra teeth are totally useless for us. In fact, they cause all sorts of problems. A study by the American Dental Association says that 80-85 per cent of the wisdom tooth need extraction.

Why is wisdom tooth so painful?

When a permanent set of teeth replace our milk teeth, we hardly feel any pain. So, why do we feel so much pain when wisdom tooth appears? Wisdom teeth appear after the age of 15 when the jaws are already hardened. They have to literally tear through the jaws.

More often than not, wisdom teeth are blocked by other teeth. A partially grown wisdom teeth needs extraction because it accumulated food particles and develops severe soft tissue infections. It can lie dormant under your gums for years and start going one fine day. This can cause displacement of your permanent health.

Very few people, roughly 5 to 10 per cent, develop normal wisdom teeth. The rest suffer so much due to these molars that they gain some real wisdom.

Why is it called wisdom teeth?

Your first wisdom tooth appears around your 15th or 17th year (late teens) . You usually have all 4 molars by the time you are 30. This is usually the time when a reckless teenager transforms into a responsible adult. So, the process of 'getting wiser' is associated with these teeth. This is not a hard and fast rule as some people do not get a single wisdom tooth all their life.

If wisdom tooth gives you trouble then it is best to get it extracted. This is best keeping your future dental health in view. Do share your own experiences of getting wisdom teeth with us.

Topics: dental care, health
Story first published:  Wednesday, August 8, 2012, 17:43 [IST]
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