One of the most common dental surgeries performed today is having wisdom teeth extracted. But why is this so common and what is causing our teeth to not fit into our jaws? There is quite a bit of history to why this occurs.
If our wisdom teeth are such a problem, what did our ancestors in the “caveman days” do? Did they struggle with wisdom tooth problems or need to have teeth pulled? Well, not quite. Scientists have agreed that our earliest ancestors likely had plenty of jaw space for their third molars and needed them to chew!
More notably, our ancestors did not eat the softer processed diet that humans now eat today. There were no grocery stores, packaged foods or fast foods. Humans had to hunt, gather and chew a lot and often. Due to the diet rich from hunting, nuts, fruits and raw veggies, our jaws were equipped with a wider anatomy to accommodate the foods we needed to digest. As such, wisdom teeth were super necessary and fit properly alongside the other teeth. Especially if any teeth went “bad” and had already fallen out. Think of how wild animals eat: they have no knives, or manufacturing to alter the food they eat. It’s natural and nature provides the tools in your mouth to consume what is necessary for energy.
In fact, research has shown that tougher foods consumed during childhood can stimulate wider jaw growth that may allow for adequate wisdom tooth growth.
Jumping back to present time we can see how different our diets are today compared to our ancestors. We eat softer processed foods that reduce jaw growth stimulation and in turn have made our jaws narrower with less room for our third molars to erupt. Because of our diets and modern advancements our bodies no longer require a set of third molars to help chew the tougher foods.
Because we have smaller jaws today, our wisdom teeth don’t have much room to erupt into the jaw as they did previously. Often wisdom teeth are “impacted”. This term can refer to several situations regarding the positioning of the third molars. This can mean the tooth is partially erupted, coming in at different angles or putting pressure on the adjacent molars. Every individual can experience a different type of impaction and with it there are different risk factors to address. When wisdom teeth are impacted, you cannot properly clean them and will often lead to infected gum tissues, bone loss and tooth decay.
Know When to See a Specialist
Today, some people actually have one or more missing wisdom teeth. At Texas Institute of Oral, Facial & Implant Surgery our team can evaluate your wisdom teeth and provide you with a treatment plan that best fits your needs. Wisdom tooth removal surgery is typically completed between the ages of 17 and 25 but it’s not uncommon to need care earlier than then or well into adulthood. Our Midlothian oral surgeon can help. Call our office in Ellis County today at 469-649-8259 to reserve a consultation.