If you are considering having your wisdom teeth removed but are concerned that doing so may have a negative impact on your mouth’s ability to do its job, rest assured that the wisdom teeth have no function for the modern-day human.
It is likely that early human ancestors actually needed their wisdom teeth so that they could effectively chew a diet that was much coarser than today’s sources of nutrition. Likewise, it is believed that those coarse foods prompted growth of the jawbone so that it would have enough room to accommodate the wisdom teeth after eruption. However, as the human diet began to move further away from an herbivore diet (plant eating) to an omnivore diet (meat and plant eating) incorporating foods that are chewed more easily, the wisdom teeth became superfluous. Eventually, the human jaw evolved in such a way that there is usually no longer room for the wisdom teeth, which now must be extracted by an oral surgeon.
Although the wisdom teeth have no function, they present a variety of risks if they are not removed. Wisdom teeth can become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to infection and inflammation. If there’s not enough room for them to erupt, they can also crowd the other teeth and knock the smile out of alignment.
Even wisdom teeth that are not currently causing symptoms can present problems in later years, so you should have them removed before problems arise that can affect your neighboring good functioning teeth. Fortunately, the procedure is a common one that can be completed on an outpatient basis with the comforts of sedation dentistry. If you live or work in the Chicago Loop and still have your wisdom teeth, schedule a consultation with Dr. Steven Koos D.D.S., M.D., an experienced, dual -degree oral surgeon.