Why are wisdom teeth more likely to get impacted?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, sometimes do not have room to fit into the mouth properly. This is believed to be due to the evolution of the human jaw, which has become smaller because of modern refinements in food and cooking. Primitive peoples needed the "extra" wisdom tooth as other back teeth, molars, broke down with their coarse diet. Wisdom teeth usually make their appearance from the ages of 17-21. If there is not enough room, they will often cause earaches, headaches, swelling of the gums, and potentially cause crowding of the other teeth. A large panoramic x-ray of the jaw, called a panograph, may show a tumor or cyst that can painlessly grow around the wisdom tooth, or destruction of the adjacent molar tooth roots. These are all valid reasons to have the wisdom teeth

Some anthropologists believe that earlier humans ate a rougher diet that allowed shifting of teeth and space for wisdom teeth. Modern man eats a much softer diet that prevents this shifting, so wisdom teeth often are not able to push through the gum.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.