Wisdom teeth are those extra molars that tend to grow in around the time a person is between 17 and 22 years old. They get their name because people at this age are said to have acquired some degree of wisdom. Here are seven strange facts about wisdom teeth that might surprise you.
Wisdom Teeth Used to Fit
Anthropologists believe that early humans' mouths were places where wisdom teeth would actually fit. These humans from long ago had teeth that deteriorated because of a less healthy diet than we are accustomed to today. This wear on teeth caused them to drift, creating more room for these third molars. They also believe that the dental work we have access to today keeps our teeth in place and doesn't allow for the extra room necessary for wisdom teeth to grow.
Some People Don't Get Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth removal is often seen as a necessary procedure that everyone must endure, but the truth is that some people don't have to have wisdom teeth removed because they never get them in the first place. Steadyhealth.com reports that 35% of people don't get any wisdom teeth at all. There are some studies that suggest different cultures actually use their jaws differently, and that might account for certain populations having fewer wisdom teeth than others.
Future generations may not have to worry about wisdom teeth at all. Some researchers are looking into ways to stop wisdom teeth from growing in babies while they are still in the womb.
You Can Save Them For Stem Cells
Wisdom teeth can be harvested for stem cells, so saving them after they are extracted actually makes sense. Some people choose to save their wisdom teeth just in case stem cells are needed for a future medical crisis. It may also be possible in the future to use wisdom teeth as a replacement for another lost molar.
You Can Use Them as Jewelry
Some artistic people actually save their wisdom teeth and drill holes in them to create pendants for necklaces or other jewelry. Jewelry made from wisdom teeth is an especially personal gift.
Wisdom Teeth Can Grow In Sideways
The reason most people have to have their wisdom teeth removed is that the teeth do not have enough room and become impacted. Most wisdom teeth become impacted vertically or leaning forward in the mouth, but other configurations are possible as well. Wisdom teeth can also become impacted growing toward the inside of the mouth and in some rare cases, they actually grow in horizontally.
Ignoring Wisdom Teeth Can Kill You
Impacted wisdom teeth can be painful, and sometimes wisdom teeth that grow only part way through the gum can be difficult to clean. These are only minor problem caused by wisdom teeth. These impacted or partially visible teeth can easily develop bacterial infections that can spread to other parts of the body. When infection in the teeth spreads to the brain, it can actually result in death.
You Can Have More Than Four Wisdom Teeth
Most people have four wisdom teeth, two on the top and two on the bottom. However, a few special people have extra wisdom teeth. These are called supernumerary teeth and always need to be extracted. Some patients have been known to have as many as two extra wisdom teeth in the same area of the mouth.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that, oddly enough, supernumerary teeth occur twice as often in males as they do in females.
Having wisdom teeth sounds like a great thing, but wisdom teeth often cause a lot of trouble. These seven facts will help you appreciate those extra teeth in the back of your mouth, even when you have to have them taken out.