Wisdom teeth refers to the molars that are found along the back of each row of teeth. Most people have two on each side on the upper and lower rows. The term also applies to the third molars that erupt beginning a few years after all of the permanent molars have appeared. Along with knowing why dentist often recommend having the additional molars removed, it’s helpful to learn a few basic facts about those teeth. Here are seven facts that you may find interesting.
The Story Behind Calling Third Molars Wisdom Teeth
Why are these later in life molars called wisdom teeth? You’ll find that the professionals who can take care of your wisdom teeth have a very simple answer. It has to do with the fact that they do appear toward the end of the teenage years or later.
The idea is that by the time those third molars begin to appear, the individual is reaching toward adulthood. That presupposes that the individual has gained a certain amount of knowledge along with the ability to put it to good use. In short, the individual now possesses a measure of wisdom.
They’re Also Called Love Teeth in Some Nations
Wisdom teeth is not the only term used to refer to those third molars. In other nations, they may be referred to as love teeth. For example, this term for third molars is commonly used in North and South Korea.
Where does this idea come from? As with referring to the third molars as wisdom teeth, the concept of a love tooth is tied back to age. Since the molars don’t begin to appear until after the individual has entered puberty and begins to feel the stirrings of affection toward future life partners, the timing is related back to those first feelings of love toward another person.
Third Molars Aren’t as Useful as in the Past
There was a time in the history of humankind when those third molars were quite useful. In the ages before food preparation was developed, humans relied on raw meats and whatever else they could forage. The presence of a third molar made it easier to rip, chew, and swallow the food sources.
Today, much of the need for third molars has disappeared. Cooking food softens it and makes it easier to chew. Simply put, we don’t need more than the two molars on each side that come in when we get our permanent teeth.
Not Everyone Has the Same Number of Wisdom Teeth
Two molars on each side of a row of teeth is considered sufficient. Any more will likely lead to some crowding and possible problems with impacted teeth. While most people will have two permanent molars on each side, some people have up to our molars eventually appear. Those are referred to as supernumerary teeth.
They serve no purpose at all. In fact, they are likely to lead to a number of dental issues. While it may be possible to leave a third molar in place, four is highly likely to cause problems. Extracting extra molars ultimately makes it easier for people to maintain better dental health and enjoy teeth that are perfectly straight.
Not Every Wisdom Tooth Has the Same Number of Roots
Just as the number of wisdom teeth may vary, the number of roots on each tooth may be different. Some molars develop with two or three roots, it is possible for a wisdom tooth to have additional roots.
More roots translates into more complex extractions. Think of the molar roots as serving much the same purpose as a network of roots on a tree. They help to anchor the tooth more effectively. The additional roots may mean that the dental professional has to perform a more invasive procedure in order to remove the extra molar or molars. This is one of the reasons that dentist order X-rays before removing wisdom teeth. This action allows them to know in advance how many roots are involved.
An Extra Molar Can Erupt Later in Life
Most of the time, the appearance of third molars takes place in the late teens or early twenties. However, they can erupt at any time after the individual becomes an adult. In fact, there are recorded instances in which someone who had reached the traditional retirement age had an extra molar erupt. Whatever the timing, it’s a good idea to consult with a dentist and determine if the new molar needs to be removed.
Remove Or Keep? The Ongoing Debate
Some people will tell you that third molars have to be removed. Others will say that unless the molar is causing some sort of issue with dental hygiene or crowding, leave it alone. This debate is ongoing and not likely to be resolved any time soon.
One thing that you can count on is that the team at the Mapleridge Dentistry clinic in Vaughan will not hesitate to recommend removing the molar if it’s causing any type of pain, crowding, or could cause damage to the other teeth.
Do you have an extra molar that was never removed? Is there some doubt as to whether it’s contributing to any type of dental issue you’re facing? Call today and arrange for a full dental exam. If the molar is part of the cause for your distress, rest assured that it can be removed and help you enjoy a higher quality of dental health.