How Wise Is It To Keep Your Wisdom Teeth?

wteWisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt and believe it or not, that is why they are called wisdom teeth. They usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25 and this is the period of time that we are supposedly becoming wiser, hence, the name wisdom teeth. The reason we have wisdom teeth is because ancient man needed the extra teeth in the back to chow down on raw meat, roots, and leaves. Today it is common to have wisdom teeth removed, mainly because our jaws have become smaller and there is not enough room for them to erupt, plus we really don’t need them. So…how wise is it to keep your wisdom teeth?


Over the past 20,000 years the human head and jaw has reduced in size. This is believed to be due to a change in diet, as well as the fact that we now eat cooked foods. Since the invention of ovens, pots, pans, and utensils, we eat tender food prepared in much smaller pieces. We no longer need to rip and tear and chew large pieces of raw meat or tough roots.


Because our jaws are smaller, there is often not enough room for our wisdom teeth to erupt fully. Often they become partially impacted–which means they only partially erupt–or they grow in sideways, or become fully impacted–which means they are stuck in the gum and cannot erupt at all. Crooked or partially impacted teeth can become contaminated with bacteria which can lead to infection, decay, gum disease, and inflammation. Wisdom teeth that do successfully erupt can cause problems, too. They can push the other teeth forward resulting in crooked, crowded teeth, and they are so far back they are difficult to keep clean, which can result in infection and decay.


Michael J. Young, DDS, and his skilled team of dental care professionals happily serve patients and their families, living in Breaux Bridge, Broussard, Scott, Youngsville, and surrounding communities. To learn more, contact us today at our Lafayette, LA dentist’s office at 337-237-6453.