Some would argue that the age of wisdom is certainly much older than the teenage or young adult years, but during those years, wisdom teeth come in and so that is why wisdom teeth are so named.1 There are a lucky few humans that don’t have any wisdom teeth that form in their mouths, but most of us will get up to four wisdom teeth, one on either side on the top and one on each side on the bottom.

Wisdom teeth are technically our third set of molars, the teeth whose job it is to grind food down.

Keep reading to learn about wisdom teeth and if you should have them removed by your dentist.

Our early ancestors ate a very different diet from what we eat today and that is why they needed those wisdom teeth in the far back of their mouths adjacent to the molar teeth. The process of cooking, which our early ancestors didn’t do, softens food up so we don’t have to gnaw on tough, raw meats, nuts, roots and vegetables.2

Because we cook food, over time, our jaws diminished in size. That’s why our facial structures differ from those you see in drawings of early cave people. Anthropologists believe that in the future humans will not even have wisdom teeth form.

Timeline of teeth

Humans actually are born with all their teeth tucked higher up in their skull structure. Babies are usually born with none of those teeth visible. Gradually a set of 20 baby teeth break through the gums and eventually fall out around the age of six when a set of 32 permanent teeth emerge. The second set of molars becomes visible around age 12, and the final set, which are wisdom teeth, emerge sometime before a person turns 21.3

The number of wisdom teeth that a person has may vary. Men are more likely to have wisdom teeth than women, and one study found that at least 53 percent of people have at least one wisdom tooth come in.4

Problems caused by wisdom teeth

For many people wisdom teeth don’t erupt but stay hidden under the gums. These teeth are called impacted wisdom teeth. An X-ray is the only way to see these hidden wisdom teeth and to determine if they may be causing problems. Some common problems associated with wisdom teeth, impacted or erupted, include crowding of the teeth which results in crooked or sideways teeth, tooth decay, jaw pain and even cysts or tumors under the gums. Removal is necessary, according to the American Dental Association, if any of these problems are evident.5

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

Getting your wisdom teeth removed at a younger age is best because the roots and bone haven’t fully formed. Your dentist can provide the best advice on when your wisdom teeth should be removed and can monitor for issues if you decide not to remove your wisdom teeth.

Walled Lake Dentist has been providing dental care for over 40 years. We pride ourselves in offering a personalized experience which includes a full range of dental services including cosmetic dentistry and dental treatments such as dental implants and dental veneers. Only the most current and advanced dental technology and techniques are used in our practice.

The New Year is approaching, start it off right with a dental checkup. Being proactive will not only save your teeth, but your overall health as well. Dr. Hechtman and his staff are committed to helping you keep a healthy smile for life. Call today for a Free Dental consultation!


1 Wisdom Teeth Removal: When Is It Necessary?

2 Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

3,4,5 Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth? by Taylor Norris, 10/14/2019