Wisdom Teeth: What Are They Good For?

Depending on how old you are, you may remember Edwin Starr, The Temptations, Bruce Springsteen, or Frankie Goes To Hollywood Singing, “War, What Is It Good For?”

With apologies to those artists, we would like to make a change to the lyrics.

Wisdom teeth …

What are they good for?

Absolutely nothing. (Say it again.)

You may wonder why we have wisdom teeth at all since around 85 percent of people need to have them removed. We’ll explain that in a moment.

But we also want you to understand that Advanced Dental Associates is here to help if you or someone you love need your wisdom teeth removed. You can find our dentist office in San Antonio.

Why We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are sort of like our appendix and our tonsils. Biologists believe they had a function at one time.

But today, you don’t usually hear about them unless they are causing a problem, and they need to be removed.

Our wisdom teeth get their names because they erupt later than the rest of our adult or permanent teeth. Usually they emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. (In theory, we are wiser at this age than when our other teeth erupt.)

Anthropologists have compared modern humans with our ancestors. One thing they have found is that modern humans have smaller mouths that our predecessors.

There are a couple hypotheses about why people’s mouths used to be bigger. One of the benefits is they did have room for their wisdom teeth to come in correctly.

One suggestion about why they needed this third set of molars is because of their diet. They ate more raw foods, which were harder to chew. Having an extra set of molars gave them a bigger surface to grind their food so it could be digested more easily.

Another suggestion is that our ancestors were prone to losing teeth, and having extra molars was a way of compensating.

Today, we eat a softer diet with more processed foods, so the third set of molars are more than we need.

The Problems Caused By Wisdom Teeth

Because our jaws are smaller, most of us don’t have enough room for our wisdom teeth to fit comfortably.

As a result, our wisdom teeth may become partially or completely impacted. Partially impacted teeth emerge some of the way while completely impacted teeth remain below your gumline.

In either case, our wisdom teeth can create oral health problems. Impacted wisdom teeth can can press into the closest molar or toward the back of your mouth. You may experience pain because of your impacted teeth, or your wisdom teeth can change the alignment of your existing teeth. These changes may require orthodontic care to correct.

In some cases, we may notice pending problems with your wisdom teeth by looking at X-rays. In other cases, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Gums that feel tender
  • Gums that bleed
  • Jaw pain or a swollen jaw
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Problems opening your mouth

You may recognize some of these symptoms as signs of gum disease and other oral health problems. Impacted teeth also are more likely to develop tooth decay.

Problematic wisdom teeth can lead to cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that could damage your jawbone.

Having Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

There is a reason that dentists recommend that 85 percent of people have their wisdom teeth removed. This procedure can save you from years of additional problems.

If you or someone you love should need your wisdom teeth extracted, we hope you will visit our dentist office in San Antonio.

In addition to local anesthetic, we can provide nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, or IV sedation to ensure that you don’t feel any pain during this procedure.

We will provide you with instructions on how to care for yourself as you heal from this procedure. You will need to protect your gums from dry socket and guard against food particles becoming trapped in your gums while it heals.

Protect Your Mouth

Nowadays, wisdom teeth are often more trouble than they are worth. Yet, our bodies still insist on growing them.

The dentists at Advanced Dental Associates will monitor the development of your wisdom teeth, and we can extract them safely and comfortably for you. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 210-819-5233 or fill out our online form.


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