Why Wisdom Teeth Grow When We Are Adults

man holding his jaw because his wisdom teeth hurt

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We get it. You wish that your wisdom teeth came in a little earlier in life. If that was possible, you wouldn’t have to miss work or college courses to recover from the dreaded wisdom tooth removal. 

Other primates, like chimpanzees, get their wisdom teeth at twelve years old. So why can’t humans get theirs early so that it’s done and over with before adulthood? Continue reading to learn why our wisdom teeth don’t come in until we’re practically adults.

What Is the Purpose of Wisdom Teeth?

Our mouths are only made with enough space for 28 teeth. With wisdom teeth, you may have 32 teeth fighting for space in your mouth at one time. So, why on earth do we have these extra teeth?

It all comes down to survival. Our ancestors ate diets consisting of harder-to-eat foods, like roots and raw meat. Because of this need to grind down their food, their teeth fell out and wore down over time. The wisdom teeth were there as replacements for the teeth that broke down. 

Today, we don’t have a purpose for them because we eat easier-to-eat foods. Wisdom teeth are just kind of there until they cause a problem, such as impaction or infection. This means you can keep your wisdom teeth (and not have to miss work or school to recover).

Why Do They Come In So Late?

It’s simple. We have longer lives and shorter faces than our ancestors (and the other species that have wisdom teeth).

Our wisdom teeth come in so late because, as humans, we are still developing into our adult years. Until we are fully developed, our jaws are unable to accommodate the intrusion. If our wisdom teeth were to come in any earlier, it could cause serious damage to the jaw because there is just not enough room for them.

How Do You Know They Are Coming In?

You will know when your wisdom teeth are coming in due to the location of the irritation. The symptoms take place in the back of your mouth where the joint of your jaw is. You might experience:

  • Pain behind your molars
  • Red, tender gums
  • Swelling in the gums
  • Teeth starting to push through

If the teeth are impacted, you may notice severe pain and infection (bad breathe, awful taste when chewing) taking place in the back of your mouth. This is when a wisdom tooth removal is necessary because they are growing towards the molars or the jawbone rather than up through the gums. 

Need a Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Having wisdom teeth erupt isn’t an automatic sign to go have them removed from your mouth. If they aren’t causing any issues, you can keep them! It’s when they start to cause an issue that you should talk to your dentist about getting them removed. 

Contact Synergy OMS today for more information on the surgery process for wisdom teeth removal. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about why you might need to have them removed.

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