Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth


February 3, 2023

Wisdom teeth are weird. They grow into our mouths a lot later than the rest of our teeth. Usually, you’ll have the rest of your teeth by the time you’re 13 years old, but wisdom teeth may not erupt until you’re between the ages of 17-25. 

So, why do we have these teeth, and why do they often cause oral health issues and need to be removed? Let’s get into the details in this blog from RI Oral Surgery & Implant Center. Read on, and learn with us!

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth? To Help Us Chew, Of Course!

Okay, this answer may seem obvious. But it’s more interesting than it sounds! Anthropologists theorize that wisdom teeth were likely an evolutionary adaptation that helped humans chew their food. 

You see, our early ancestors were hunter-gatherers. Their diets consisted of foods that were really tough, such as the leaves, roots, and nuts they gathered, and the meat from game animals that they hunted. There was no agriculture to speak of, and humans needed lots of chewing power to consume their meals properly.

Because of this, early humans had a wide, strong jaw, as well as very strong jaw muscles and a third set of molars, which we now call “wisdom teeth.” This made it easier to chew and digest their diet.

Why Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Issues In Modern Humans?

So, if wisdom teeth are meant to help us chew our meals, why do they cause issues in modern humans? Wisdom teeth, when they grow into our mouths improperly, can cause pain, discomfort, and a higher risk of oral infections, among other things. That’s why around 10 million wisdom teeth are removed each year.

What’s the deal? Well, simply put, we’ve evolved past our need for wisdom teeth. Modern humans eat a diet that’s much gentler than extremely tough, hard-to-chew foods. The invention of cutlery like forks, knives, and spoons has made it easier to eat in smaller, bite-sized pieces.

As a result, our need for wisdom teeth has decreased over time. And while these teeth have not gone away, our jaws have become smaller, so wisdom teeth are less likely to fit into our mouths properly.

Not All Wisdom Teeth Have To Be Extracted – Come To Our Office To Learn More!

Some people have enough space in their mouths to accommodate their third set of molars and have no need to have them extracted. But others may need to have their wisdom teeth extracted if they're not growing in properly. This includes people with smaller jaws, or who have already had orthodontic treatment to change the position of their teeth. 

If you’re noticing pain in the rear of your mouth or other symptoms as your wisdom teeth start to erupt, it’s best to book a consultation with your doctor in Rhode Island. So don’t wait. Give us a call at (401) 732-1188 or contact RI Oral Surgery & Implant Center online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ray English, get out of pain, and get back to your daily routine.

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Book a Consultation

Are you interested in dental implants or in finding out if you’re a good candidate for oral surgery? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ray English III today! He’ll take the time to get to know you, and provide treatment plan options that are tailored to your unique needs, so you can get the care that’s right for you.

RI Oral Surgery & Implant Center

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