Why do we grow an extra set of molars that we don’t even use in our lifetime? In this article, we explain what wisdom teeth are, why we have them, and how they may have an effect on your trips to the dentist or orthodontist.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are an extra set of molars at the back of our mouth. It is believed that this extra set of teeth was used by our ancient ancestors before humans developed tools (like knives and forks) to eat food. The molars are left from a time when we would consume tougher meats or nuts, which wore on our teeth more than our food does now.

At What Age Should We Start Thinking About Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Unlike our other teeth, wisdom teeth don’t start forming until about age 10. After they’ve formed, they still don’t surface until we are 17-25, which is why the common name for them is “wisdom teeth”. The name refers to the fact that they emerge at the same time as one comes of age. But some people aren’t born with wisdom teeth. Because of their evolutionary nature, some people will never grow them from the age of ten. Before they surface, you can determine if you have them or not by getting an x-ray.

How Might Wisdom Teeth Affect You?

Even before they emerge, wisdom teeth tend to place force on your other back molars, which can push the adjacent teeth forward as well. If severe, this can affect the spacing of the teeth and cause crowding. Getting wisdom teeth removed is something any good orthodontist will consider when fitting you with braces. The gums at the back of the mouth remain quite soft until they take some time to fully heal, which means that your teeth will have the propensity to shift. It’s advisable to get an x-ray before your wisdom teeth begin to emerge as sometimes they grow in at an angle, which can also disrupt your dental alignment.

If you or a loved one are not sure if they’ll need their wisdom teeth removed, the first step is to get an x-ray, ideally as a pre-teen. Call us today to book a consultation or cleaning at 403-262-2627.