For most people, somewhere between the ages of 17 – 25, the “third molars” appear. This is a time when a person is considered “wiser” versus the time during childhood when most teeth erupt.
And so began the history of wisdom teeth.
Back in the day, when humans had larger jaws presumably used to chew down foliage to a digestible size, wisdom teeth were a valuable survival tool. But as our brains grew and faces flattened, there became less use and less space for them.
While the removal of problematic teeth dates back to ancient Europe, up until the 1800s dentistry was often performed by barbers and blacksmiths as well general physicians. Things began to change with the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery opened in 1840. It is now considered the oldest dental college in the world.
Currently, most adults have four molars appear, although some have more or less. Due to the effect wisdom teeth have on other teeth by coming in sideways, known as “impacted”.
Extraction of the wisdom teeth is commonly done to prevent severe problems affecting the entire mouth. While they once served a purpose to our daily needs, current research shows that the majority of people have had them removed.
As with other decisions involving the best oral care treatment for your needs, your dentist will advise you on when and if wisdom teeth should be removed. Ultimately this decision will be based on the risk of future cavities, gum disease, and other harm to the mouth. Every patient is unique, just like every tooth.
The Art of Beautiful Smiles
Duane P. Delaune, D.D.S. earned his dental degree at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry, where he graduated fifth in the class. Delaune Dental began in 1990 with the passion of providing great customer service and exceptional dental care. Dr. Delaune loves the wilderness and often hikes or goes backpacking.