Getting Wise on Wisdom Teeth
While we at Calgary North Orthodontics don’t typically deal with wisdom teeth, a.k.a. third molars, they can affect our work with your mouth. This is because wisdom teeth can cause hard-to-reach oral diseases that prevent orthodontic treatment, or they can cause malocclusions due to crowding. As much as we would love to see you and help you fix your bite, wisdom tooth extraction can actually save you stress when you get to our office, or even save you a visit in some cases.
Why Are They Called “Wisdom” Teeth?
Third molars have been dubbed “wisdom” teeth because they grow in much later than all of the other teeth. About 5-7 years later! By the age of 17-21, wisdom teeth will erupt if they haven’t been removed. The inference being that you are “wiser” than you were as a child.
Why Do We Usually Remove Wisdom Teeth?
One of the biggest issues that wisdom teeth can cause is an impacted tooth. This happens when a tooth is prevented from moving into position by lack of space. Not only is this painful, but cysts, abscesses, and even periodontal disease can develop under the gums. If the teeth do erupt properly, they can cause crowding or diseases due to improper cleaning as they are so far back in the mouth.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
For this we are going to have to go far back, before toothpaste commercials, before braces were being dreamed about, before dentistry even existed. Let’s go back to a time where humans didn’t even really exist yet. To a time where our ancestors were ape-like and walked on all fours. There was no cooking or utensils to speak of, and walking on all fours meant that your teeth had to do all the work of pulling apart your meal. Food consisted of raw meat, nuts, roots, berries, and leaves. Having four extra teeth and a strong, wide jaw to help you eat was a huge asset for our ancestors.
Why Do They Cause Problems Now?
This is one of the cool things about living organisms, we evolve. As our diets began to change, so did our bodies. It was no longer necessary to have large jaws to crush our food, we developed eating utensils and cooking processes that allowed for easy breakdown. As a result, our jaws shrank over the years. Now those wisdom teeth are growing into a smaller space, and can cause all of the problems we mentioned above.
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