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Why do we have wisdom teeth?

If we just get our wisdome teeth pulled as soon as they come in, why do we even have them in the first place?

5241 day(s) ago

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Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that grow in the four back corners of our mouths. They are the last adult teeth to grow in with many people not seeing them until they are in their mid-twenties. Some people never grow wisdom teeth, depending on their heritage and the genes they possess. Because of the genetic factor, the growth of wisdom teeth runs along racial/national lines. On the low end, only 1 in 500 of Congolese and Nigerians develop wisdom teeth while on the high-end 100% of Mexicans grow wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth no longer hold the importance that they once had. Scientists theorize that early humans relied on wisdom teeth to help grind raw plant material for food before we started softening everything by cooking it. Excessive chewing was required then to extract all the digestible parts of the plant from the fiber. Some scientists say that humans had wider jaws in that time, so the incidence of impacted wisdom teeth was lower than it is today.

A scientific controversy exists today over the premature extraction of wisdom teeth. In most of the first-world, developed nations, a habit began of extracting wisdom teeth as soon as they grew in. This was labeled as preventative medicine and thought of as necessary in helping to prevent impacted teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth are when they grow in at an angle and squeeze together the existing teeth, making them crooked. In 2006, a panel of doctors studied the removal of wisdom teeth and found that removing them did not decrease the incidence of tooth crowding. This study showed that 60 percent of wisdom tooth removals were unnecessary surgical procedures. Another group later looked at the same data and concluded that preventative wisdom tooth removal is actually a harmful procedure in that it can lead to damage to important nerves in our mouth and jaw. In many countries, removal of wisdom teeth is not pushed so much as it is in the U.S. or Israel, the two countries with highest rates of extraction. Eastern European, Latin American, and British dentists are less likely to perform the procedure unless it is needed.

Posted 5241 day ago

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