Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Closeup of x-ray image growing wisdom teeth in pain

From the teenage years to the early twenties, our teeth undergo major changes in orientation and structure thanks to the growth of our wisdom teeth. Though some may not need to have their wisdom teeth removed or may not have any at all, the majority of teenagers and young adults suffer through the sometimes painful eruption of these seemingly useless teeth.

If they serve no purpose, as many believe, why do we have them in the first place?

Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?

The last time your teeth did anything of note was probably when you tucked a baby tooth under your pillow for the tooth fairy. Now, all of a sudden, your teeth have decided to have a late growth spurt. Your wisdom teeth are essentially the last leg of your oral development. While it may seem more reasonable for your wisdom teeth to erupt while you’re still young, just to get it out of the way, they actually haven’t even begun developing until after age 10. When they’re finally ready to erupt, the positioning of your other teeth is typically set in stone, making it difficult for your wisdom teeth to fit. Because these late-blooming teeth erupt when you’re older and supposedly worldlier, they’ve been dubbed “wisdom teeth.”

What Purpose Does Wisdom Teeth Serve?

Oral surgeons and patients can typically agree that wisdom teeth are usually nothing but trouble. Though some individuals may have plenty of room to accommodate the growth of wisdom teeth or may not develop them at all, those who do have them know they often are accompanied by soreness, infection or impaction, potentially resulting in major oral health issues in the future. For those who have wisdom teeth, extraction may be the most logical next step to safeguard and maintain good oral health. But, if wisdom teeth will just be removed, why do we have them in the first place?

Many researchers have concluded wisdom teeth are a product of evolution. Anthropologists and biologists believe the wisdom teeth were used by our ancestors to grind coarse, rough food such as leaves, nuts and gamey meat. Because humans have grown accustomed to softer foods and the use of tableware, the human jaw has shrunk over time, rendering wisdom teeth nearly useless and officially classifying them as vestigial organs.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in Louisville, KY

The discomfort caused by the eruption of your wisdom teeth doesn’t have to be permanent. An extraction can put an end to the pain and tightness in your jaw so you can get back to your daily life without the distraction. Louisville residents can trust their smiles to the expert surgeons at Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates. Contact us online or call 502-459-8012 to schedule an appointment today!



Top Five Reasons You May Need an Oral Surgeon

Male Doctor With X-rayBrushing, flossing, using mouthwash and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings may be the extent of your dental routine, but dental health is about more than just fighting cavities. Your dental health can affect the health of numerous systems in your body, so it’s important you care for all areas of your mouth, including your teeth, gums, jaw and tongue. When problems arise with these areas, your dentist may recommend you visit an oral surgeon to correct potential problems and prevent any existing issues from worsening. These are the top five most common reasons Americans will need to visit an oral surgeon for more extensive treatment than the dentist can provide.

  1. Wisdom Teeth Extraction

By the teenage or young adult years, most Americans will have already experienced the aching and discomfort caused by the eruption of their wisdom teeth. Regular dentist appointments will ensure these pesky teeth are caught on an X-ray before they become infected or impacted. Whether they erupt uncomfortably, are impacted or simply don’t fit, an oral surgeon can ensure wisdom teeth are extracted quickly before they grow into a larger issue. Though you may experience some discomfort following a wisdom teeth extraction, the procedure itself is usually painless and fast.

  1. Joint or Jaw Problems

Numerous jaw problems could lead you to the oral surgeon’s office. Congenital conditions such as uneven jaw development, injuries that cause jaw misalignment or broken jawbones may require you to work with your oral surgeon to plan a procedure that can properly set and correct the issue. Many Americans even suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) that can cause stiffness and pain in their jaw and joint. These disorders can easily be corrected with the help of an oral surgeon.

  1. Bite Issues

Similarly to jaw deformation, irregular bites are hard to spot until your head and jaw have stopped growing. Slight over- or under-bites aren’t necessarily issues that must be handled by an oral surgeon. However, excessive bite misalignments can cause unwelcome side effects such as trouble eating or swallowing and sleep apnea. If this is the case, your oral surgeon will collaborate with you to determine the best procedure to correct and maintain a healthy bite.

  1. Sleeping or Breathing Troubles

Whether your significant other finally had enough of your snoring or you’ve begun to realize you may have sleep apnea, an oral surgeon can assist you. Depending on the severity of your nighttime breathing problems, your options may include a CPAP machine to open your airway at night or jaw surgery to permanently reset your jaw to allow the maximum amount of air to travel through your airway.

  1. Implant Services

Gum diseases, genetic conditions, and injuries can result in tooth loss if left untreated. Whether the tooth fell out or was never there to begin with, dental implants can produce a complete, natural-looking smile in no time at all. This multi-step process involves imbedding a titanium implant into the jawbone to serve as a root for the anchoring post and the crown itself. These replacement teeth will look and function almost exactly like your natural teeth. An oral surgeon can help you determine if dental implants are right for you.

Enjoy a Healthy Smile Thanks to Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates

In addition to the standard dental health routine you’ve grown so accustomed to, you may require a visit to the oral surgeon to properly correct any mouth or jaw conditions your dentist doesn’t have the tools or expertise to address. Though the ordeal may seem intimidating, the right treatment from your oral surgeon can put you on the road to a healthier, more functional smile.

Louisville residents can rest easy knowing their smiles are in the hands of the experts at Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates. Our state-of-the-art technology and team of compassionate and knowledgeable dental professionals can assist you in determining the most effective treatments for your unique case. To schedule a consultation today, contact us online or call 502-459-8012.