A wise man once said–
In the 1800s, there was a man named Chuck, who certainly was no fool.
He had a theory that the human body retained several “left-over” organs that lost their use during the course of evolution.
Chuck, better known as Charles Darwin, knew what he was talking about.
In humans, the list includes the appendix (yawn), the tail bone (really?), male nipples (ahem) and wisdom teeth (a-ha!).
Despite little or no function in current times, these parts stubbornly insist on showing up, and have to be dealt with on occasion.
Since I have no formal authority on the first three, I can offer some enlightened expertise on wisdom teeth.
Here are a few reasons and conditions when it would be beneficial to let go of your ‘spare’ set:
1. Lack of function
You may start with 32, but 28 can do the job just fine. Now that our jaws are smaller compared to our ancestors, wisdom teeth don’t often help in chewing or other functions. This may be not be an urgent reason to get rid of them, but something to consider.
2. Poor alignment
Superman’s vision or dental x-rays (whichever is easier) can pinpoint the position of wisdom teeth. Often they come in at odd angles, sometimes even sideways, and make your otherwise spent-three-years-in-braces teeth shift and overlap.
Your once-straight smile may not stay that way after wisdom teeth start coming in.
3. Risk of damage to neighbors
If straight teeth are not a priority, note that poor alignment can also potentially damage neighboring teeth by trapping food debris or plaque.
4. Risk of infection
This is probably the most important reason to consider in your decision making.
Wisdom teeth, especially in the half-in/half-out position in your gums, are often prone to gum infection. Bacteria settle down and party like it’s 1999, which can cause swelling, jaw tightness and pain. This infection can travel to other parts of your body, like your heart, making it quite dangerous.
5. Difficulty keeping clean
Despite my constant
nagging recommendation, the percentage of those who floss is much smaller than those who don’t. Factor that in if you have a hard time reaching your back molars to brush, let alone floss way back there.
Wisdom teeth are thus more prone to dental decay, leading to cavities. Getting them treated can be challenging, if even possible.
6. Problems later in life
If your wisdom teeth were worry-free in your teens or 20’s, but start to bother you later on, a discussion is in order to decide if they’re worth treating or need to be removed altogether. The benefit of getting them out may outweigh the risk of holding on to them.
7. Early detection of problems
If your x-rays at an early age show without a doubt your wisdom teeth are going to present problems or damage adjacent teeth, it’s worth getting them removed earlier rather than later. One advantage is an easier recovery, since they haven’t finished growing and thus are easier to remove.
On the other hand, if your wisdom teeth are positioned comfortably, you’re not having any discomfort (nor are you at risk to) and you are diligent about your home care and regular check-ups with your dentist, you can keep your wise quartet for life.
And if losing your wisdom with your teeth worries you, just remember what another wise man said–
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
Still have questions? Call or email us, or ask in the comments!
(214) 522-3110 www.raodentistry.com