Why Do Some Adults Have Wisdom Teeth While Others Don’t?

Woman having a problem with her wisdom teethWisdom teeth, they do not make anyone smarter, they just tend to come when people are older, appear in the very back of the mouth. Two of these molars erupt on the upper jaw and two on the bottom jaw as part of a full set of 32 permanent teeth.

However, many adults do not have all their third molars. Here are reasons many adult mouths do not have some or all wisdom teeth.

Some wisdom teeth are removed

Every year, U.S. dentists extract nearly 10 million third molars. The primary reason for these extractions is impaction. Impacted wisdom teeth lack enough room to erupt and get trapped in the jawbone or gums.
Impacted teeth may cause oral health problems that include pain, swelling, cavities and gum disease.

Many people who experience wisdom teeth pain here in Salt Lake City have their third molars extracted between the ages of 17 and 25.

Some people never get their third set of molars

Some people, now considered a lucky few, miss one or more of their wisdom teeth. There could be an evolutionary explanation as to why third molars are the teeth most commonly missing from adult mouths.

Some researchers think wisdom teeth are no longer essential because of changes in diets.

Our distant ancestors needed all their toughest, widest teeth to grind their caveman food. These teeth are less useful now that we moved to more chew-able cooked food. Our jaws have consequently become too small for “extra” choppers.

People are more likely to have problems with wisdom teeth than with any other choppers. In fact, millions of people have suffered from impacted and infected wisdom teeth necessitating the removal of these molars. However, other individuals never get one, two, three, or all four third molars.

While there are no explicit reasons why some people miss one or more wisdom teeth, some scientists think evolution could be responsible.