Will Wisdom Teeth Someday Become Obsolete?
Most people are familiar with third molars, more commonly known as “wisdom teeth”. It is usually suggested that a young adult entering the “age of wisdom” have any existing wisdom teeth removed prior to developing any problems. Because most people’s mouth do not have room for these third sets of molars, the remaining wisdom teeth often fail to erupt and can cause pain, infection or inflammation.
However, you might not realize that about 35 percent of the population doesn’t experience any third molar development. This percentage is slowly growing, begging the question of whether we are on an evolutionary track of losing them completely.
Scientists still aren’t sure of the role that DNA plays in third molar development. One large difference in third molars is that they are the only teeth to develop entirely after birth, which makes it harder for nature to select against them. There may also be environmental factors at work. Studies show that certain cultures have fewer incidences of third molars, but scientific evidence of influencing factors is still to be determined.
As science progresses, many believe bioengineering could be used to prevent the development of third molars altogether. For wisdom teeth to form, a special tissue that promotes the bone growth has to migrate back into the mouth to interact with jaw tissue. Some scientists have begun work on administering a laser or chemical agent that would prevent this process.
It is hard to say what the future might hold for wisdom teeth. For now, we continue to recommend removing your wisdom teeth to avoid the pain and periodontal disease that results from impaction of wisdom teeth. Moreover, this surgery should take place during the young adult years prior to the teeth attaching to the jaw and becoming more difficult to extract.