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What’s the deal with wisdom teeth?

It sometimes seems like the only reason we still have wisdom teeth are to make dentists money. After all, these teeth do not erupt when the other teeth do, frequently not having enough space to erupt as a result, and are the most likely candidates for inflammation and tooth decay. So what are they good for, what do they do, what is their function and why do we still have them? All this and more on these pesky vestigials in the article below.

impacted-wisdom-teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth

 

The function of wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt, and they are also physically the last teeth, the ones closest to your cheeks. They are molars, and are called third molars as they erupt after the other two have already come in. As mentioned above, they usually come into a mouth that is already crowded and has no space for it- this makes them frequently impacted, pushing other teeth out of the way and unto each other, creating orthodontic and hygiene problems for the other teeth. Their function is the same as other molars; they are there for chewing and for properly mashing food into digestible pap. However with their position being so far behind, they frequently cannot fulfil this function properly. They are a truly vestigial construct, and the fact that they are left in the mouth is incontrovertible proof for the existence of evolution through natural selection: these teeth are only in our head because it does not kill us before being able to raise children, and are thus passed on to the following generation again and again.

Potential problems

As previously mentioned, wisdom teeth come in late and have no space to grow into, and thus push the teeth together. This causes more frequent tooth decay, the formation of an improper bite, and a much shorter lifespan for the teeth that are being pushed. And this is only one problem: wisdom teeth frequently do not erupt at all, or only partially, and can continue to push and break the gums and the soft tissues, causing constant pain and pressure. If they do erupt, even if only partially, they are very difficult to clean, and are much more prone to tooth decay. Therefore it is a good idea to get them removed. 

 

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