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Sunday January 4th, 2015

Posted at 1:45pm

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Guest Article By Dr. Peter Siedlakowski

Why do we have wisdom teeth and why do we need them removed?

Third molars or “wisdom teeth” as they are commonly referred to, are generally the last teeth in the human adult dentition to erupt at age 17-25. Often times I have patients ask why we have them and why they need them removed. Wisdom teeth are vestigial, meaning they were used at one point in our evolutionary lineage when we ate primarily a diet of plants and had larger jaws to compensate. As we cooked our food over thousands of years, our jaws got smaller and we lost the space required for their proper eruption. The result is that usually when wisdom teeth erupt, they erupt at odd angles and often interfere with surrounding teeth. Thus causing issues such as dental decay in neighbouring teeth, or conditions called pericronitis (infection of the gum surrounding the erupting wisdom tooth). Furthermore, since wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth, cleaning them with simple brushing can be an issue and they can be prone to dental decay. So, if you have your wisdom teeth it would be wise to get them evaluated so that they don’t become an issue down the road.

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