What’s the Point of Wisdom Teeth?

Not everyone grows a third set of permanent molars – or wisdom teeth – but when they do, the molars’ development isn’t always as smooth as that of other teeth. Given their frequent problems, and the fact that you can extract wisdom teeth without having to replace them, you may wonder: what’s the point of wisdom teeth in the first place?

If you’ve already developed your wisdom teeth and they’ve become impacted, making your teeth ache by pushing against them, then it may be time to consider extracting them. If your wisdom teeth are still growing in, but have not yet disturbed your other teeth, you might still consider extracting them preemptively to avoid potential problems in the future.

Why We Have Them

The truth is that most of us do not need the additional chewing power that four extra molars provide. Experts believe our ancestors required the boost to their bite so they could consume a rougher diet of raw plants and roots. But, as humans and our diet evolved, our jaws grew smaller, and now, there is often little room left on an adult dental ridge to accommodate wisdom teeth.

Why We Have to Extract Them

For the most part, wisdom teeth are the only types of teeth that can generally be extracted without being replaced. For other teeth, the loss caused by extracting them can leave your bite imbalanced, and replacing them (preferably with one or more dental implants) is the only way to preserve your smile.

By contrast, the presence of impacted wisdom teeth can be a danger to the rest of your oral health. Since you do not need the extra chewing power, and since the molars develop at the ends of your dental ridges, wisdom teeth are not essential to the integrity of your bite or smile.


Combining experience in oral and maxillofacial surgery with a genuine care for their patients’ health and comfort, the team at Santa Rosa Oral Surgery is ready to improve the health and beauty of smiles in the Sonoma County and North Bay area. To schedule a consultation, contact our office by calling 707-545-4625 (Santa Rosa).