According to the most recent estimates, around 85 percent of people need their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their lives. (So much for them being wise).
It’s something that we take for granted and don’t focus on all that much. But it’s little data points like this that speak to the wider health problems our society faces.
When you consider it from an evolutionary perspective, requiring people to remove their wisdom teeth in mid-life doesn’t make a lot of sense. Biology should have sorted out the problem a long time ago.
The problem, however, isn’t our biology itself. After all, in the past, wisdom tooth problems were far less common. 85 percent of people weren’t walking around with painful teeth and swelling at the back of their mouths. So something has changed recently to cause wisdom tooth issues.
There’s currently a debate about what that factor is. Some dentists argue that wisdom teeth were necessary in the past because of poor oral hygiene. These extra teeth would step in when a molar fell out, getting rid of any gap.
But when researchers study the teeth of hunter gatherers, they generally find that they had good dentition. They weren’t exposed to many of the lifestyle factors that we have today. And even though they didn’t have access to fluoride toothpaste, many cultures found ways to clean their teeth and keep their mouths healthy.
This observation is causing many researchers to look in a different direction. They’re wondering whether there is something about modern life that is preventing wisdom teeth from erupting properly.
Our jawbones only have a limited amount of space to house our teeth. Usually, regular adult molars go right the way to the back of the mouth, leaving very little room for teeth to come in behind them. Instead of assuming that the size of the jaw is fixed, researchers are wondering whether early experiences change it. It might be that a lack of fiber-rich foods early in life affects the size of the adult jaw later on, with smaller jaws becoming the norm.
For some people, wisdom teeth never cause any issues. On many occasions, they do not erupt at all, staying below the gumline. In others, they come through fully with no problems at the back of the mouth.
For most people though, discovering the tooth extraction cost is a good idea. Knowing in advance how much it is going to set you back helps you plan for the long-term.
You can give your wisdom teeth the best chance of coming through in a healthy way by using fluoride toothpaste and ensuring that you are brushing right at the back of your mouth. You can also rub dental floss behind your back teeth to remove any debris that might be caught between the tooth and the gum. Be sure to visit the dentist every six months so that they can keep track of your wisdom teeth. Always tell your dentist if you have swelling or pain as this is a sign that you will need an extraction.